Some of the most memorable thought-provoking discussions were with a favorite professor back in college. This particular professor taught business law and loved to make you second guess your every core belief - And believe me, he was good at it. This particular day we were discussing the death penalty. Who believed in it, who didn't. The ones who whole-heartedly believed in it would be asked questions like, "What if your father was on death row and you knew he was wrongfully accused? Do you still think the death penalty is a great idea?" (See... the guy was a bit of a intellectual sadist, but man he was fun).
At the time I was greatly outspoken against the death penalty. I was such a hippie little chick with my convictions back in those days, an unabashed advocate for human rights... anyway, I digress... So he says, "T., How do you feel about the death penalty?" Of course I say I am against it, so then he asks me a barrage of questions including, "What if someone killed your whole family, wouldn't you want them to die?"
Well, you see, I loved to mess with my professor as much as he loved to make his students question themselves. So I say, "Of course. I wouldn't want the state to kill them though, being against the death penalty and all... I'd do it myself. And torture them if possible. For days. Unspeakable things."
"What if the killer is already in jail?" He asked.
"I'd shoot him when he went to court." I answered.
"What if you can't get a clean shot from outside and there are metal detectors?" He retorted.
"I'd make sure I had a plastic shank and jump him in the courthouse."
This went on for some time, and finally I explain to him that revenge is something totally different from justice. That I believed our laws shouldn't be based on emotions and gut feelings, but what is fair and just.
I never did find out which way he felt on any of the topics he brought up in class, some much more controversial than this one, but I got the distinct impression he disagreed with most of my young, naive convictions. Not sure that I totally blame him now that I'm a bit older and wiser, but regardless I got an A. My mama always said I could argue with a wall. Too bad I didn't have more classes like that, my GPA would have been wayyyy better.