Common Reading


University Theme: On the Fringes

Reefer Madness by Eric Schlosser

Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market by Eric Schlosser ties into the "On the Fringes" theme by discussing three industries that have been relegated to the fringe of American society known as the black market. Nevertheless, marijuana, pornography, and migrant labor are much more commonplace in American life than one might realize. For example, one in three Americans have used marijuana, approximately one-half of Americans partake of pornography each year, and most Americans eat produce grown by migrant workers.

While the title may shock parents, the book does not specifically advocate the consumption of pornography, the use of marijuana, or the hiring of illegal aliens.

Instead, selecting this book is representative of the liberal arts thinking about our society. The book is interdisciplinary in nature, and connections can be made to courses in such disciplines as political science, sociology, economics, biology, Spanish, philosophy, religion, history and environmental science.

Reefer Madness is an exercise in the critical thinking that we ask our students – and ourselves – to perform, as the author spotlights the shocking repercussions of society's evasion of fringe issues. For example, there are some states in which the penalty for drug-dealing is much more severe than for committing murder. Ignoring well-researched and carefully analyzed facts about these industries is an avoidance of thinking critically about our society.

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