The year was 2007. That was the year I lost all faith in the educational system of our country.
I still remember it so clearly. Will and I were camping near a lake in rural Texas. It was fall, and the weather was just beautiful. There weren’t many other campers in the area; in fact there was only one other group, a few tent-sites away. The group consisted of four college-aged kids, two boys and two girls (I’m sorry, but after what happened, I cannot refer to them as men and women, no matter their chronological age). They were loud and cheerful, and probably having a wonderful time.
Let me set the stage a bit politically, for those too young to have been paying attention: Presidential campaigns were gearing up, and the Democratic primaries were on everyone’s minds. That was the year that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton began competing for the nomination. Part of the topic running through the media was the ‘First _____ President theme.’ Would we have our first Black president? Or would Clinton crack that gender barrier? It was a topic for discussion everywhere, including, sadly, at this remote campsite.
Will and I were lying in our tent, trying to sleep, but could not due to the loud conversation. Sound carries well at night, especially where there is no ambient noise to block it out. The college-aged kids were getting political, and one of them mentioned the primary campaign. And then this happened:
Loud Boy: You know Hillary Clinton could never be elected, right? You understand we can never ever have a woman president.
Loud Girl: Why not? I think she’s pretty popular.
Loud Boy: But it doesn’t work. There can never be a woman president, ever.
Loud Girl #2: Why not?
Loud Boy: Because she’s a woman. She’ll get elected, and then she’ll get pregnant and die in childbirth and we’ll have to have a whole new election.
And every other damn kid agreed with him! I am not kidding. This is not a joke. They all expressed non-sarcastic amazement at his insight, agreed that the danger is too great (that whole dying in childbed thing) and wondered why there aren’t laws to prevent women from even running for office, since we don’t want to risk being president-less while having another election (ummm…isn’t that why we have a vice-president?).
That was the point I called the ranger station to complain about the loud campers, though I did not complain about how ignorance was spreading like a virus and I feared that if they did not shut up they would infect me as well.