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A Question of Right by Nigel Gordon


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What a wonderful, thought-provoking tale! It's always fun when an author writes a neat little story with a question of whether the ending will be A or B or C. It's even more fun when the actual answer is Three Pancakes! Thank you.

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Spoilers be here! Beware!

I was disappointed that the protagonist didn't win. Sure, he made his point, and in the short run what he wanted was accomplished — even to a degree more than he wanted. But he lost so much more than he gained.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Colinian, I can assure you that the protagonist did win, the story is mostly autobiographical, the events in it did happen. The only changes I made were to merge a couple of characters into one, partially to make the sequence of events easier to follow, partially to avoid embarrassing a third party. As a fifteen year old I had ambitions to become a doctor, but they were unrealistic, even the course of studies I was enrolled in at the College of Commerce could not have got me there. At the time I lost a lot but over the years I probably gained more than I lost. The most important thing though was I came to understand that if you believe in something you have to be prepared to fight for it, no matter what the personal cost might be. Remember Niemöller's words, "First they came for ..." If you do not stand up and fight for what is right one day you will find that they will walk over you.

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I find Nigel's story to be particularly prophetic at this time in our society where religious freedom is such a divisive issue. We are all aware of the Kentucky court clerk who feels her religious beliefs should nullify the rights of others, or perhaps the boy who was not allowed to attend his senior prom because his date was another boy.

Religion has always been about power and the controlling of others. The narrow mindset of one individual who uses religion as the excuse for setting irrational rules can disrupt lives, and has in many real instances. Nigel's main character is to be admired for standing up to the powers that could ruin his academic career, and although he lost the battle he won self respect at quite a price.

This whole religious liberty issue is a two edged sword and I hope I live to see the day when those bigoted minded individuals get cut to pieces on the backswing. It will happen.

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I think the loss of his education was inexcusable, and that's what I would have fought for. But I'm not grousing about the story (I enjoyed it); I'm grousing about the concept that someone didn't (wasn't able to) fight for what was important. Maybe that's a difference between now and back in the 1960's. One thing that's outstanding in the story is the protagonist is one of the first protesters. Not with signs and placards and shouting and blocking traffic, but with his action of closing the Bible and making his statement.

Colin :icon_geek:

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Oh I enjoyed the story but find it sad in this case to discover it is somewhat autobiographical in nature. Nigel would have made a fine doctor if that is the way he chose to go. But I recall a line from some ancient tome of wisdom...there are too many to remember...but it said that doctors may save lives but writers enrich them. Thank you for the wealth, Nigel.

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I disagree that the protagonist lost. I felt he won. He won the most important battle—with himself. He stood up for himself and his conscience in the only way he could, and accepted the punishments he know would come. Knowing there would be retributions, he still stayed true to who he was and what he believed. Knowing there would be reprisals, he still acted as his conscience moved him to. And, unbelievably, he was 15 when he did so.

No, this is definitely not the story of a kid who lost his battle. What he did was define himself as an individual when most of us are still trying to decide who and what we are. This is a tale of morality and courage, one that should be read and understood by teens everywhere.


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I met Nigel a couple of years after the events in this story. At no time in the forty seven years I have known him has he ever regretted what he did. A couple of times he has said he thought he should have called on the students to walk out with him but as he said never ask a question you do not know the answer to. He suspected some might but also thought some might not. In many ways the events in this story made him. He went on to work extensively in the civil and gay rights movement, I don't think he would have done that if he had not been forced to take a stand. That led him into an interest in law and politics and he eventually returned to full time education (some ten years later) to study Law and Accountancy.

​A couple of years after the events set out in this story he got involved in local politics and pushed for an amendment to an order banning dogs from municipal buildings to exempt guide dogs form the regulation. When the amendment was put to the council the councillors they had not thought about guide dogs. This resulted in the council adopting a policy to check if regulations have impacts on disabled assistance dogs of all types. A policy not followed by all councils as good practice.

Nigel became very much an autodidatic in the years that followed and is now an acknowledged expert in a number of fields ranging from the Marital Arts to Gaia. He currently admits to having three degees (there is a forth on which is a doctorate) but he does not claim it as he says it is worthless. He is currently working on two areas of research (Task Oriented Application Development) and (Ethics and Theology of Gaia from a Pagan Perspective). Both are looking as if they will be coming out as books next year and hopefully he may end up as Dr Dr.

Would Nigel have made a good doctor of medicine. I don't think he would - it was he father who wanted him to be a doctor. What he haa becme is a good fighter for rights, even if fighting for those rights puts himself at risk. As I am well aware it did in the recent past.

Ten years after this story Nigel was back at the now merged college doing his A levels. Once again he came up against a bigot who wanted everybody to conform to his views. Once again Nigel took him on and once again Nigel won. He won by using the fact that he was gay as a weapon against the bigots. Maybe one day he will stell that story on this site. I sincerely hope he does.

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