While my colleagues point to the Nobel Prize winners, my e-mails suggest why the Nobels in the future might not be American. Scotus sent the department the following passage from “Samantha Shrugs,” a short piece in the September 2006 Touchstone, not surprisingly concerned with reactions at a Catholic school by an honors student.
The perspective on abortion might be the one you’d expect in such a setting, but the author admits “Now, itís not my intention, in this forum, to argue one way or the other about abortion rights, and, in fairness, Iím sure opponents of abortion have spoken similar nonsense. My point, however, is to illustrate the ďmindset,Ē I believe, of a lot of our students.” The mindset is not likey to garner Nobel Prizes.
“Samantha: Yes, but what science says doesnít matter.
Me: (silent, unsure of an appropriate response to such an assertion)
Samantha: Just because something is true doesnít mean you have to believe it.
Me: Okay. (I write her last sentence on the board so itís plain as day.) Are you sure thatís the argument you want to make to defend a right to abortion?
Samantha: Sure. I can go through my life denying what science says is true. I have that right.
Me: Yes, I guess you can. I can refuse to believe, for example, that the world is round. I can insist itís flat.
Me: But can that kind of thinking ever become the foundation of our laws, even if some unreasonable folks want to base their personal decisions on it? If we do, laws just become a matter of who has the power, not whatís right and true. Laws would simply be what the lawmaker wants them to be, for his own convenience. If the ones making the law want to say wife-beating is okay, then thatís the law; it doesnít matter if itís ďtrueĒ that women are people and have rights. Or Hitler can have his concentration camps. Or America can have black slaves. And thereís nothing anyone can do about it, because (the lawmaker says) just because something is true doesnít mean I have to believe it.