When does one cross the line?

One of the questions that frequently arises in connect with the teaching of certain aspects of computing, is the same question that is asked about teaching driver education and sex education: When does the teaching cross the line between making students responsible citizens and giving them enough information that they can now be destructive? The following story, even if not true, is an excellent example of this dilemma.

This is an exact replication of National Public Radio (NPR) interview between a female broadcaster, and US Army General Reinwald, who was about to sponsor a Boy Scout Troop visiting his military installation.

INTERVIEWER: "So, General Reinwald, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?"

GENERAL REINWALD: 'We're going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting."

INTERVIEWER: "Shooting! That's a bit irresponsible, isn't it?"

GENERAL REINWALD: "I don't see why, they'll be properly supervised on the rifle range."

INTERVIEWER: "Don't you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?"

GENERAL REINWALD: "I don't see how, we will be teaching them proper rifle range discipline before they even touch a firearm."

INTERVIEWER: "But you're equipping them to become violent killers."

GENERAL REINWALD: "Well, you're equipped to be a prostitute, but you're not one, are you?"

The program stopped abruptly.

Last updated 99/08/30

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