I’ve always considered myself to be fairly moderate in my political beliefs. Yes, I am for universal healthcare (though I would be willing to settle for significant regulation if someone would bother to come up with something that makes sense) and I am also for gay rights (particularly marriage, which I could go into here, but won’t). But I don’t go so far as to think that we should tax the living hell out of the rich (although I think we should punish the rich accordingly whenever they screw up and not give them passes just because they have money). I could go on and on about my beliefs, but I think ultimately it will either paint the picture that I’m fairly liberal or at least somewhat moderate.
But all that changed when I moved to Gainesville. I was moderate in Santa Cruz, but here I am a crazy liberal. I don’t know what to make of that, except that I know I have to be very aware of my personal beliefs when it comes to teaching my classes. Contrary to popular opinion, not all liberals are out to brainwash your children and turn them into tree-hugging hippies. In fact, I don’t want to brainwash any kids (not really, anyway, though I may joke otherwise). I do, however, want to expose them to different beliefs and ideas, because if they’re going to be useful, productive members of society, they have to be capable of actually thinking about things, even if it goes against what they believe in. Living in a vacuum does these kids no good whatsoever (and if the conservative or liberal fascists who think otherwise, that’s their problem, not mine; I can’t be bothered to deal with people who think it acceptable behavior to intentionally provide their children with an exceedingly limited and biased viewpoint of the world, and then get upset when they grow up and actually want to know what the world is really like).
This is all part of the south, though, right? After all, the University of Florida was the first time I saw public praying on a university campus, and also the first time I have been accosted by born again Christians looking to save my immortal soul at school. Even my students have completely opposite views from me and I suspect that they think me remarkably crazy leftist as a result. Maybe, but I don’t know if I’m that deep in the south in the middle of a university. Such places tend to be a little more liberal than the rest of the world. So maybe I should be afraid of what actual red-ville looks like.
I suppose what this all amounts to is this: it’s a strange experience to find out you’re actually more insane than you thought you were.