Dissenters Welcome

Mugsy Malon wrote: "if you don't want dissenting opinions, then don't ask
for it to be discussed in an open forum."
One strange lesson I learned after teaching dancing, coaching tennis, or
working in a classroom; the dissenters, those who bother to question my
suggestions, always turn out to be the very ones who are alive and
interested in that subject, and eventually they turn out to be, if you will,
the best advocates of the program whatever it may be.
I have always been the one in class to throw so many questions at my
teachers that some of them, instead of countering my questions with
convincing explanations became visibly annoyed and tried to discourage my
dissenting, questioning remarks.
When in my Master's Program at UCLA in 1963, I had a dogmatic history
professor. Our first class consisted of a visit to his office. Incredibly
the floor was strewn with documents of the Civil War and there was only a
narrow edge of twelve inches for the 14 students to encircle those piles of
onion skin manifestos or Lincoln's 'We the People' proclamation or the
'Gettysburg Address'. About our second round table meeting one evening the
group was assigned a comparative report on two Civil War text books; one was
written in 1879 and the second in 1954 by the professor's friend, which he
made certain to instruct the class when he gave out the assignment. I happen
to be seated at the professor's right hand and as the opinions were
reported, one student at a time starting to his left, I became increasingly
shocked when I heard the professor's friends book published in 1954 being
lauded over the superior first hand source text of 1879.
When I at last gave my comparative report I cited several paragraphs from
both books categorically indicating that plagiarism was the essence of the
professor's friend's book. The class was dismissed summarily.
Walking down the hall several students came alongside informing me that
they agreed with my conclusions but that I would certainly get an 'F' in
that course which would bring my fragile 'B' average below the accepted
Masters level and automatically get dropped from the Masters program. The
next day I went to the school office, quietly withdrew from the class to
avoid getting that 'F', but continued to attend every class in the Civil
War round table discussions and was the worse dissenter ever. And the
professor never knew That his 'F' would never get on my record. I even
remember the class was held on a Tuesday, the same night as the
'Untouchables' on TV. And I even suggested to the professor during class to
end the 2 hour round table discussion twenty minutes earlier so I could
catch the Untouchables on TV. Incredibly...he refused!
My point? Just a little story for Mugsy Malon why dissenters make the
best converts, and unlike my Civil War professor, I welcome opposition.
Black Sheep

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