And the debate rages
As I sit down to write in Wilson Library at Western Washington University, there is a dramatic scene which continues to unfold--even as I take a break from participation--in the square outside. There was plenty which led up to it, and it happened at the initiation of the College Republicans.
It started innocently enough. Some of the CR club took the time to chalk it up in the area assigned for that purpose in the square. Their messages were naturally all pro Bush--they made it BIG and it covered a lot of space! I took the time to check it out in the morning (having known it would take place) in between some of my classes and I was impressed.
Little did the students know who walked over those chalk words and images, that this was simply a prelude to the day's main attraction; no, I'm not referring to the presidential debate tonight. It was about 11:00 am when the Veterans Against John Kerry arrived and set up shop in the square! Yes, I also knew this was going to happen and planned on being there at least part of the time. We had been told that they were expecting to draw a lot of controversy so the CRs wanted to have some supporters on hand. I stopped by at the beginning when nobody had really noticed them yet. Naturally, there wasn't much going on. Christy, the club president was there, just standing by. I said hi ad headed off to class.
I really didn't know how long they would be there so I didn't know if I could make it back again. I needn't have worried...
On my way out of one of the buildings along the edge of the square, I noticed out the window that there was a crowd now. I hurried over. I was a little worried when I first approached because all I could see was a very large student standing in front of the display (almost physically blocking a portion) with an audience of his own. As I would later determine, this was not an audience but a group of people who were busy "debating" on this and that. I couldn't really tell what he was talking about because he was so loud and dominating it really distracted from anything he may have been trying to say.
I came closer in and noticed several other "debate circles" formed up in various spots around the display and the Vets. I looked around for Christy and finally located her. By this time the large student was over in front of her and it was then I also realized she was the primary person countering the whole gathering storm. Now to fully appreciate this, one has to understand that Christy is by no means a person of size except perhaps a noticeably small size! Here she was, standing her ground as this "large" (for lack of a more colorful word) student towered above her and simply wouldn't stop "talking." I mean, you got the impression he was afraid to stop in case some might follow through on the vague--yet inflammatory--rhetoric he spewed. After various claims that Christy was a contradiction (because she supports Bush), in the same way that a Jew supporting Hitler would be a contradiction, he finally started including some details.
It was the abortion issue he was referring to. This was also where I finally joined. Christy's attempts to find out why abortions were so needed over adoptions were thoroughly ignored--so I asked him when he thought life began. He said he didn't know and what he believed didn't matter--just as long as he didn't impose his belief on the choices others make. So I pressed on and told him that it wasn't a matter of belief because science has virtually proved that life does begin at conception and no one publicly denies it anymore. He backpedaled some, tried to change the subject some, but I wasn't done and I was starting to get my sea legs under me!
I asked him when he considered it murder to kill a child. He continued to try to change the subject. I pointed out to him that if he didn't draw a line SOMEWHERE, he would ultimately deny that murder has any definition--after all, maybe life begins at twenty; we just don't know so what gives!
He ultimately didn't answer me even after I asked him why he didn't just kill someone like me because I might not be living yet. And yes, I mentioned the fact that John Kerry believes life begins at conception and yet supports abortion--oops, I mean a right to choose murder.
One more funny before I sign off... There was a rather boisterous guy who was more difficult to debate because he was even less courteous than anyone else I'd "talked" with up to this point. He actually stuck to the military service issue for a while. In between his bouts of shouting over my head into the crowd, I responded to whatever I could. At one point we started talking about Yale and I called him on his rather hurried claim that Bush somehow was a bad student. I mentioned that Bush had a higher GPA than Kerry and he started laughing at that till I asked him what he meant by saying Bush skipped out on classes. How did that translated into a higher GPA? That's when he really put his foot in it!
He said that Bush had special privileges at Yale (sounds like the argument about the military records). I asked him who gave him special privileges and how. He said "well duh, the skull and bones of course." I almost lost it in a fit of laughter. Ok not quite, but almost anyone who knows anything about skull and bones (not too many) knows that both Bush AND Kerry were BOTH members! Sure didn't seem to help Kerry's grade! I won't get into the whole "bonesman" issue because I can't claim to know what skull and bones is (there's too many different stories for me to know).
I kept talking to various people till I finally figured I'd better get some study done. That is, after all, what I think I came here for in the first place.