Four Years of Weed?
Ben Stein is opposed to making college free because “college is just a chance to get high.” (A small part of the reporting article is quoted with a link below the essay. jp) This is a kind of journalism, but only a kind. It was on a news program and it’s designed not to inform, not to enlighten but to shock and, in this case, denigrate millions of American who go, have gone or will go to college. I assume this will be good for ratings but it doesn’t add much to the discussion of what should be done about rising tuition and student loan burdens.
I teach college classes. Most of my students work and many have families. Regular attendance in both my classes and at their jobs tend to suggest that they are not spending an inordinate amount of time using drugs. Among certain circles there is an amazing delight in denigrating young people today calling them entitled, talking about helicopter parenting, talking about how lazy they are, etc. etc. and on. There are differences between today’s students and those in the previous generations. I did some teaching in the distance past and those students (1993) were more questing and intellectually curious about the world than my current students but that’s pretty easy to chalk up to the current addiction to standardized testing. This generation is quite good at sucking up facts and giving them back to you. Their high school education pushed them in that direction. I can’t blame them for that kind of radical re-programming.
I have some familiarity with Ben Stein and I think he sincerely believes what he is saying. And what’s more, I think he enjoys saying it. He sees himself as a provocateur telling difficult truths to a “politically correct” society. But while what he says is shocking, that doesn’t mean that it has any validity and since taking verbal potshots at the current generation seems to be massive public sport in this country, I don’t see political correctness acting as a defense in any way.
It would have been nice and ethical business for there to have been an intelligent discussion of the serious issue of free college or even an intelligent discussion of college drug use. Be we didn’t get either one here.
In a society professing democratic values, the presentation of ideas in conflict is important. But here we have a news program catering to a particular demographic by denigrating and slandering an entire generation of Americans. This is not ethical.
Stein ended his rant by saying that although discipline and education seem to be the only things (according to him) that stand in the way of poor people securing middle-class status, he doesn’t like the idea of education being free because college is mostly just “four years of smoking the neon-green chronic.”
Noting that the interview was taking a turn for the worst, Cavuto jumped in and said, “Look at the time here. Look at the time!” Stein completely missed the verbal cue, and added that for many kids, “college is just a chance to get high! Why are we going to subsidize it?”