Chapter 9 Part 1
Paivi’s leg bounced anxiously through all of her classes, finally calming down when she arrived to Current Events. Only two more periods until basketball tryouts, not that she was worried. She was confident she’d easily make the freshman team.
She could hear the students whispering as she plopped down in her seat. Most of them hadn’t watched the debate, which was bound to disappoint Dr. Hasenpfeffer, who seemed more frazzled than usual. She knocked an entire stack of tests off her desk, sending them flying in a flutter to the floor. A girl who sat near Dr. Hasenpfeffer’s desk jumped up to help her pick up the mess.
When everything was in its place, Dr. Hasenpfeffer settled herself into her leather chair. Paivi noticed a large coffee stain down the front of her ruffled cream blouse and her hair was haphazardly pinned down by a large gold barrette on the top of her head.
“Good afternoon, class,” she began, finally getting herself together. “Let’s get right to it. How many of you honestly watched the debate, or at least saw some news coverage about it?”
Paivi looked around the room. Aside from her hand and those of the few students who had come to her Debate Party, very few others had done their homework.
“Now children, I could understand why you might not finish a worksheet, but seriously, this is an assignment that might just be helpful to you in real life.” Dr. Hasenpfeffer sounded exasperated at their apathetic response.
Stefan Jarvis, a student who normally spent the class drooling into his sleeve, had his hand raised.
Dr. Hasenpfeffer looked to be in a bit of shock, pressing her hands to her heart. “To what do we owe your glorious contribution, Mr. Jarvis?”
“Well, I just wanted to, you know Doc, put in my two cents,” he responded.
“By all means,” she offered.
“Well, I just don’t get what the big deal is. I mean, who cares about these old, rich politicians. It’s always the same crap, isn’t it? All they do is lie, cheat and steal. I can’t vote now anyways, and even if I could, it doesn’t seem like our votes count for anything.”
“Well, Mr. Jarvis, I am sure you plan on attaining the wonderful adult age of eighteen?” queried Dr. Hasenpfeffer.
“Yeah, next year,” he said with a smile.
“In that case, you should know what you’re in for. You have to take driving lessons before they give you a driver’s license. Perhaps you should take the time to learn more about politics before you can vote. Otherwise you have people voting for some idiot because he or she has cool hair!” She sucked in a breath, having expended all of her air on her rant.
“Okay, okay!” conceded Stefan. “You win!”
The class laughed.
“Those of you who deemed it uncool should be sad that you missed such a monumental debate. If anything, the most important part was not the debate at all!” She looked around the classroom. “Those of you who saw it, can you please tell the class about it?”
“The part about the list of ‘Enemies of the State,’ or the part where Moira Kelly tried to punch Stevens in the face?” asked Jason.
“Let’s focus on this list. For those of you who missed it, Senator Stevens informed the nation that he has access to a list of people who he is referring to as ‘Enemies of the State.’ These people, according to the Senator, could have stopped terrorist attacks. Some of them are, in fact, terrorists. They formed a committee and will identify the people, who will be brought in for questioning. What do you all think about this?” she asked, glancing around the room.
A few hands went up.
“Ah, Mr. Jarvis!” Dr. Hasenpfeffer gestured for him to speak.
“I think if it’s true that these people on the list helped terrorists, then they should be punished,” Stefan said.
Paivi raised her hand.
“But Dr. Hasenpfeffer, is it constitutional to just round people up because of some list? I mean, how do we know this thing is legit?” she asked.
“Legally, you can be charged with a crime of omission if you know the details of a crime that is at some point committed. Usually it’s a misdemeanor charge, something pretty minor in terms of the law. But the punishment can be more severe if someone dies. They would have to prove that the person knew about the crime, and I am not quite sure we know how they plan on determining that,” Dr. Hasenpfeffer explained. “But you are right, they won’t release any information on where the list came from. I think they are all hoping we will put our trust in them.”
“Hey, Dr. H., you’re old, so you would be a better judge. Should we trust them?” asked Jason.
Dr. Hasenpfeffer pretended to be offended. “Old! Old! I am not that old!” she protested.
“I’m sorry, you know what I’m saying. You have more life experience!” laughed Jason.
“Ah, yes, I see. Well, my answer to you would be to always ask questions. It’s your life they’re making decisions about. Being informed is the best thing to do. But I have to admit, I am nervous about this list. No good has come from singling people out. If you think back to some historical examples, there was the McCarthy Era in the 1950s when Communists were rounded up and harassed. We could even make comparisons to the Holocaust and the roundups of the Jews during World War II. But I would hope our government remembers the lessons learned during those times,” Dr. Hasenpfeffer said.
Join me Wednesday for the next installment of INTO THE SHADOWS!