>Back in my high school career, I took AP American History. I highly enjoyed my class, although I refused to do the weekly mundane chapter outlines our teacher assigned. He claimed it would help us study for our exams and ultimately the AP test, but I found that I actually absorbed less of the material when I was constantly interrupting my reading to write crap down. It was babysitting, pure and simple. Despite all of my excellent test scores, I nearly got a C or D in the class since I had no points for doing my homework. In the end, I caved and did about 20 outlines at once, which sucked, and of course I never used them to study for my AP exam because I had other notes that were actually useful.

At any rate, one of the questions on the AP test asked about three ways that the Puritans still influence our country today (today being 1994). I wrote about the Puritan work ethic and capitalism and manifest destiny and all that “God smiles on hard (white) workers, so if you are rich, you must be good” shit. Then I hesitated. I really wanted to say that because the Puritans instituted a conservative religious fundamentalism in this nation, today we suffer from high rates of teen pregnancy, STD transmissions, and other ailments because quality sex education is not available in the majority of schools. It would be risky to take that path. I went ahead and blamed lack of sex ed on the Puritans. At the end of the exam, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Fortunately, I received a 5 out of 5.

As I was sitting in a conference session about poverty yesterday, one of the presenters mentioned that this country would rather piss away gazillions of dollars to lock people up than to spend pennies on the dollar to prevent certain social ills in the first place or to help people avoid repeating mistakes. Immediately I remembered my AP essay. Yes, another bad influence of the Puritans: poor (non-white) people are born evil, so it is only appropriate to punish them, regardless of the multitude of costs. Fucking Puritans.

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