Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Columns

March 17, 2013

03/15/2013 — Lee Ward: Meatless forever? This is how rumors start

ASHLAND — A couple of weeks ago, The Associated Press reported a student revolt at Smith College in Northampton, Mass., based on a rumor started by two college professors.

The rumor was the campus was going entirely vegetarian and the school would buy only locally grown food.

The rumor prompted various demonstrations, some from students upset the school was taking such a stance and some from those who were offended other students were against the school’s rumored move.

The AP reported, however, the rumor was started by professors Jay Garfield and Jim Henle as part of their introductory class in logic.

I can relate to how some of the students must have felt.

If I were told I had to swap my cheeseburgers for veggie burgers, I can imagine taking to the streets, shouting and holding signs.

If there would be no more chicken soup, only lentil soup, I might be outraged.

If my future held no more tilapia and shrimp, only tofurkey, I might cry myself to sleep.

If sweets consisted only of Wayne County honey, as tasty as that as, my life would be incomplete.

I’m not sure what to make of students at an elite American college being spurred to action about vegetarianism, though.

At best, I think they must be strong, confident young people if they’re willing to voice their dissent about something as innocuous as their food plan at school; there will be more protests to come as they mature and encounter more injustices in the world.

At worst, I think this was a selfish and petty issue to become enraged over when there are so many other issues students could — and have — protested.

Even though the professors were using their rumor to illustrate a point in their logic class, the rumor also illustrated this: Most people, even students, aren’t driven to real action on an issue until they directly experience the impact on their lives.

LEE WARD can be reached at lward@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2661.

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