[Editor’s note:  there is a photo essay on the SuperBowl in the works, meaning I have to find the doo-hickey to get the pictures from the camera to the computer.  In the meantime please enjoy this little snapshot into why my life  is annoying me these days.]

I am in a seminar at school.  Seminars are usually quite the good deal- same number of units as a regular class, but only meets once a week for a few hours, less reading, open discussions, no Socratic method- good all around.

Every once in a while, though, a seminar sucks so bad it makes you want to cry.  Or scream.  Or, in this case, both.  Remember the avatar sex thing?  (welcome, googlers in search of avatar sex!  Please look elsewhere!)  The same professor is at it again.

For today, I’ve been asked to write a response paper detailing the scientific process behind so-called “partial birth abortion.”  Like describe it in medical terms.  Explain how it’s different from other kinds of abortions.  Maybe talk a little about the ban that the Supreme Court heard arguments on a couple months ago.  But mostly stick to the greusome parts: the fetal tissue the aspiration, the word “forceps.”

Here’s the thing:  I know that intact dilation and extraction (or “IDX,” the medical term for “partial birth abortion,”) is unpleasant.  I know that it’s controversial.  I knew how it worked before I wrote this damned paper.  What I really freaking resent is that the professor (whose politics are different from mine, as you might have guessed,) is asking us to write it at all.  It’s not clear to me what writing a nice book report on how IDX works is going to add to our legal debate of the issue of abortion regulation in class tomorrow.  The only thing I can figure is that he’d like us to all have to confront that it’s not pretty, so we can see it like he does- as infanticide.

Which is pretty freaking inappropriate for a class, if you ask me.

I get it- it’s easy to be cavalier about issues when you’re not confronting the reality of what it looks like, and maybe that’s the point he wants to make.  But to be honest, I get a little queasy when I read about bypass surgery or dialysis or chemotherapy, and I’m pretty sure that my discomfort with some medical procedures isn’t a solid reason to ban them.   I’m pretty sure we don’t make people who are considering an appendectomy watch one on video first just to “make sure” they’re comfortable having that done to their bodies.  And most importantly, no matter where you come down on this issue, using your position as a professor to try to bring students around to your way of thinking using a technique that has nothing to do with what you’re discussing?  That seems pretty lame.

Can someone please find a more charitible explanation for why we might be asked to do this?   Because right now I’m ready to go into class with the gloves off, ready to fight, and that might not be the best idea.