Cloning. Matt is a clone, which makes him less-than-human. In his society, clones have been classified as livestock because they are used for “spare parts” when people need organ transplants. In our society, cloning is very controversial, too. What do you think about it? Is cloning ethical and moral? Should scientists work on cloning a human being?
- 1st: Dalton
- 3rd: Sharon, Gustavo
“Test-Tube” babies. Even though in-vitro fertilization or IVF has become very common in recent years, there is still a lot of controversy about it. People are worried about the health and religious issues that come with conceiving a child in a non-standard way. There are also issues because IVF is very expensive and that can lead to “designer” babies, or babies only for the rich. What do you think? Is IVF ethical and moral? Should there be greater restrictions on the practice, or should it be made more widely available?
- 1st: Abelardo, Martin, Liandro
Arranged Marriage. It sounds old-fashioned, but all around the world parents are still signing their children up for arranged marriage. Sometimes, this can be a great detriment to women’s rights, but surprisingly, arranged marriages are often very happy and successful. Do you think parents should be able to choose or influence their child’s choice in partner? Do you think this is a violation of human rights and should be banned? Or is it something that we cannot regulate because it is important to a culture?
- 1st: Janet, Cheryl, Aaminah
Illegal Immigration. You may have seen on the news that America has some issues with illegal immigration. There are two sides to this issue – one that says people who come here illegally are able to take advantage of America’s medical care and government programs without paying the taxes that fund those things, while at the same time taking American jobs; and the other side that says America is a country founded on immigration and by immigrants. Do you think that people should be allowed to freely immigrate to this country, or are immigrants a “drain” on the system?
- 1st: Jose, Sha’ri
- 3rd: Jessica, Jasmin, Barbara
Border Control. A lot of people come to America every day, some illegally, some legally, and some with very bad intentions. The terrorists that caused 9/11 were in the United States illegally, but at the same time, many people come to America peacefully hoping to start a better life. How do you think America should patrol its borders? Are we doing enough to keep bad people out, or are we doing too much and making it too hard for good people to be here?
- 1st: Marcell, Shawntekia
- 3rd: Border Control
Spanish Language in the United States. Have you ever walked through a store and not seen a single sign in English? If you speak Spanish, you might have had an easy time reading them anyway. But what if you don’t? In America, most people primarily speak English, but Spanish is growing very quickly. Some people have a big problem with this because it could seriously change America’s culture. And some people think it’s a good thing if more and more people speak Spanish. What do you think? Should America make it a law that everything is English-only, or should we embrace Spanish like Canada has embraced French?
- 1st: Destanie, Cristian
- 3rd: Isabel, Kimberly, Tori
Legalization of Drugs. Every day in the United States, hundreds of people are arrested, prosecuted, or incarceration for drug offences. In The House of the Scorpion, drugs have been legalized and become a huge industry that has propelled El Patron to great riches. Here in America, two cities have recently legalized marijuana – not for medical reasons, just to get high. Do you think drugs should be legalized in America and if so, what do you think will happen? Will we end up with drug lords like El Patron, who is undoubtedly evil, or will we end up with a more peaceful society?
- 1st: Jameson, Victor
- 3rd: Tyler, Elias Denis
Nature vs. Nurture. Are we born evil? People have asked this question for centuries. Recently, a scientist claimed he found a part of the brain that is different in “evil” people, or sociopaths. Tam Lin says “When [El Patron] was young, he made a choice, like a tree does when it decides to grow one way or the other. He grew large and green until he shadowed over the whole forest, but most of his branches are twisted” (Farmer 70). What do you think? Are people born evil, or do we become evil based on the choices we make?
Alcoholism and Music. A lot of very good music has been made by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol. But what does that mean for the creators of the music? There is even a phenomenon called the “27 club” which is filled with famous and talented musicians who died at the age of 27. Invariably, the cause of death is drugs or alcohol. Are these drugs giving us great musical accomplishments, like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by The Beatles or “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, or are drugs and alcohol stealing talented artists away from us before their time?
- 3rd: David W., Eric, Angel
Suffering Without Knowledge of Suffering. What does it mean to suffer? Can someone suffer if they do not know they are suffering? This is one of the questions that all religions try to answer: Why do we suffer? In The House of the Scorpion, the eejits do not suffer because the computer chips in their brains allow them to feel nothing but joy. Are they truly slaves if they feel nothing but happiness? What do you think? Is denying someone the ability to suffer the same as denying them another inalienable right such as that of the pursuit of happiness?
- 1st: Kentrell, Mary, Elizabeth
- 3rd: Javon, Kyrill, Treykecia
Communism. There are a lot of countries throughout the world that have tried to have a communist government. This is a system of government where all property is owned by the government and everyone is paid equally and shares the wealth, food, and so on equally. The idea is that it would eliminate poverty and pain that comes from a society where some people have more than others. China, Cuba, and North Korea are all communist countries, with various states of success. Do you think communism is a truly fair system of government, or is an “unfair” system (capitalism, what we have in America) a better way, even though some people will end up better off, and some will really hurt?
- 1st: Lupita, Zuri, Marcos
- 3rd: David H., Nancy, Bill
Rights to Deny Medical Treatment. In The House of the Scorpion, El Viejo dies because he refuses medical treatment for his terminal cancer. Do we as humans have a right to deny treatment that would keep ourselves alive? Do we have a right to terminate our own lives if we have a disease that will only mean a long suffering and eventually death? The issue of doctor-assisted suicide or a patient’s right to refuse treatment is hotly debated. What do you think? Should a person be able to determine when they want their own life to end, or should doctors and family members do everything possible to prolong someone’s life?
- 3rd: Michael
Slavery. The ideology behind slavery is taking away the freedom of a group of people to satisfy the needs of others. In the 1930’s the government of Australia decided that mixed-raced Aborigines were a threat to the purity of Australia and that there should only exist white Australians and pure Aborigines. In an effort to preserve the races “half-caste” Aborigines were “kidnapped” and taken into work camps were they were given jobs, exposed to culture and “civilized” in hopes of either marrying or being adopted by white Australians to prevent the two groups from mixing. Innocent people were taken from their natural habitat where they enjoyed a sense of family, community and culture and “kidnapped” in an effort to preserve the races. If someone else decides they know what is best for you based on their beliefs is this slavery?
- 1st: David, Rony, Luis
- 3rd: Sherrod, Kayla, Shakinah