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Freedom of Speech: The Trolley Problem Edition

Joined: 7/31/2015
Posts: 4
Government class: the teacher brings up utilitarianism and introduces the trolley problem, a thought experiment that asks whether you would sacrifice one fat man to save five workers.

I was one of the few willing to agree to sentencing the fat man to death.

“Let’s face it; he probably didn’t have a high standard of living anyway,” I argued into the dead silence. “While those workers, probably underpaid, are in this for the families they want to help support.”

That the fat man might be unhappy was something I knew intimately: several sizes larger than my sister and possessing a lower abdominal bulge, I struggled with eating disorders and self-confidence. At one point, I toyed with the idea of suicide.

But the classroom erupted into chatter because I was bringing up the taboo topics of modern age: obesity, assisted suicide, labor contracts. Never mind that I would have been willing to explain; the teacher hurried the conversation along to the next person.

Sometimes it seems as though freedom of speech only applies to Donald Trump and the Westboro Baptist Church community, that one can’t have a calm, thought-out conversation about controversial issues. In the modern “sensitive” public, anything that may offend anyone, ever, is hushed up or overexaggerated, two different extremes of thought—and that is a trend that has overtaken everything from religion to Sex Ed, or perhaps from religion to Hobby Lobby demands.

In my school, we don’t even have Sex Ed. It’s called Health, and the teachers aren’t allowed to demonstrate the use of contraceptives. Sure, the students can ask for a demonstration in private—but what are the chances that a student would? What are the chances that a student wouldn’t decide to forsake protection entirely?

In eighth grade, my history teacher said that Columbus and his men used native females as sex slaves. We squirmed in our seats then, and nervously giggled at the word “sex.” Somehow, the idea that Columbus had hands and ears chopped off was easier to bear than the idea of sexual slavery. We were used to talk of violence, and definitely not to talk of sex.

This is what I call in my mind “the trolley problem of sex.” We’re used to thinking of all life as sacred, and all sex as uncomfortable, and that just doesn’t make sense. Logically, five lives trump one, and one moment of discomfort is far better than a lifetime’s worth.

One moment of discomfort: matsturbation is healthy and natural, but good luck figuring it out when you don’t have a dick; ugly people have sex; being heavier doesn’t equate to unhappiness; therapy is not just for the week; friends can be haters too.

Maybe one day the trolley will stop, but till then, we’re simply walking slowly, headed towards an uncertain future where parents might still be shoving their children off to the school to receive the sex talk and no one can explain why or why not one equals five. Bon voyage.
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your Freedom of Speech essay being chosen as one of our finalists in the running for 1st place for our September 2015 teen writing competition. Be proud of your accomplishment!

We are in the process of selecting our top three winners, and naming the 1st place winner from the narrowed field.

We will post all winning essay results by October 31st. You can check this page for the results after October 31st:

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Monday, October 12, 2015 2:57:40 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your September Freedom of Speech Essay being selected as our first place teen essay!

We will be contacting you via your registration email for your prize details.

You can check this page after October 31st 2015 for all the writing contest results::

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Thursday, October 15, 2015 6:45:25 PM
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