As some of you know, there was an incident today wherein one of our colleagues put his foot in it with discriminatory comments toward a certain ethnic group. The details are not relevant here, so I won’t link to that discussion.

What is relevant here is that bigotry is far more likely to stem from ignorance than from malice. Indeed, the nature of the beast is such that bigots ALWAYS believe that their bigotry is justified, for whatever reason. The existence of any exception is logically impossible. That’s why calling someone a bigot adds nothing of value to the discussion. Indeed, people who do so run the risk of appearing bigoted themselves, because the definition of bigotry includes intolerance of other opinions. (And, once again, believing it to be justified changes nothing.)

Regrettably, this isn’t going to change anytime soon, because far too many people have been taught what to think instead of how to think. Indeed, left-wing bigotry appears to be no less common than its right-wing counterpart, and differs only in who gets to choose the victims.

So, where am I going with all this?

The nature of prejudice is, coincidentally, a topic I discuss at some length in my TDI reimagining, The Legend of Total Drama Island (LTDI). This discussion is important to the story because it addresses the reason why Ezekiel is not voted off for the sexist remarks he makes during the first challenge. (It also helps that Zeke doesn’t dig himself quite as deep in my version. Most notably, he doesn’t claim that boys are smarter than girls, but does claim that boy smarts and girls smarts are suited to different things.)

I had not originally planned to preview this particular scene, but its ripped-from-the-headlines topicality induced me to not only preview it, but to break with my regular previewing schedule and preview it today. Don’t worry, though, LTDI fans—you’ll still get the regularly scheduled Valentine’s Day previews: two “hot ‘n’ steamy” scenes, including my take on the infamous NoCo scene.

Tonight’s scene also illustrates how I will be using most of the poetry that I am incorporating into the story. I will be using several famous poems in other parts of the story—one will even have a challenge built around it—but the verses in this excerpt are not so widely known. For the poetry-averse among you, fear not: most of the story’s verse extracts won’t be as long as this one, and most aren’t critical to the story, so you can safely skip them. I include the poems to more closely emulate the story that I am using as my structural model.

Earlier Previews

For anyone who missed them, I have posted three previous previews:

Tonight’s Preview: ”Second Impressions” from The Tale of the Awake-a-Thon

Surveying the campfire site, Ezekiel noticed that Courtney had begun walking in place. Actually, he thought, that didn’t do it justice. She was virtually jogging in place.

The prairie boy rose from the log he had been sitting on and walked over to the former CIT. He knew that he was in hot water with the Muskie girls, and he realized that he would have to redeem himself somehow if he expected to get deep into the game. Courtney seemed as good a place as any to start.

“Hey, Courtney?”

“What is it?” she answered, a bit more shortly than she had intended. Although Courtney believed that Ezekiel was guilty of mere ignorance, not malice—indeed, it was she who had argued that Ezekiel’s sexist remarks weren’t reason enough to vote him off after the first challenge—that didn’t mean she particularly wanted to socialize with him.

“You’re going to wear yourself out if you keep that up, eh?”

“Why? Because I’m a ‘weak, helpless girl’?”

“I didn’t say that,” the Bible boy protested.

“It so happens,” Courtney sniffed before Ezekiel could say anything more, “that I think the best way to stay awake is to keep moving.”

“Sounds good, eh?” her teammate agreed, “But you’re spending a lot more energy than you need to. Like I said, you’re going to wear yourself out.”

Courtney didn’t know what response she had expected from the farm boy, but that wasn’t it. Disarmed, she left off her semi-jogging and asked, “So, what would you suggest?”

“Well,” Ezekiel offered, “we could just stroll around and talk, if the other girls haven’t convinced you that I’m the devil incarnate.”

Courtney considered his offer for a few moments, and then accepted.

“Maybe we misjudged Ezekiel,” Courtney would later say in the confessional. “Sure, some of his attitudes are kind of medieval, but he seems to mean well and he does seem to be thinking of the team. With a little re-education—okay, a lot of re-education—he just might make a worthwhile teammate.”

As the other campers tried to stay awake in whatever ways seemed best to them, Courtney and Ezekiel strolled sedately around the Muskie side of the campfire site, talking mainly about things that related in some way to the homeschooled lad’s perception of gender roles. It didn’t take Courtney overlong to discover that Zeke (as she had asked, and been granted, leave to call him)—had a sharp mind, although that virtue was well camouflaged beneath his unrefined speech and mannerisms.

As they talked, Courtney quickly learned that Ezekiel was not merely parroting doctrine. He had actually given thought to why gender roles in farm country were the way they were, and he had some skill in defending them. Most notably, he had a perfectly good reason—the biological phenomenon of sexual dimorphism—for his earlier, now infamous, statement that boys were “much stronger and better at sports” than girls.

Courtney, for her part, had taken biology, and so understood the concept of sexual dimorphism; but she hadn’t been joking when she told her teammates that she was going to be a lawyer one day. She was a debater on her school’s speech team, honing the rhetorical skills she would need to succeed as a trial lawyer, and she knew how to acknowledge the reasonableness of an opponent’s point without conceding the point.

Courtney acknowledged that boys, in general, were stronger than girls. This was a readily observable fact, and there was nothing to be gained by trying to deny it. In turn, Courtney was able to convince Ezekiel that there would always be exceptional individuals like Eva. Courtney was not willing to concede that boys were inherently better at sports than girls, but that was another battle for another time.

As for Zeke’s assertion that boys’ and girls’ intellects were suited to different pursuits, Courtney acknowledged that girls were not as likely as boys to be attracted to the sciences, for example; but she pointed out that lack of interest was not the same as lack of aptitude, and questioned whether he might be confusing the two. Courtney further questioned whether the well-documented gender gap in such interests was really a matter of predisposition or of cultural expectations. Ezekiel, for his part, offered arguments such as the fact that boys, on the whole, are known to have better spatial perception skills than girls, whereas girls tend to have better language skills. Girls were certainly inclined to talk more than boys, he observed.

From time to time, their debate would grow heated, and their voices would begin to rise. Each time, one of these teammates would notice and warn the other; for although it was one thing for their teammates to overhear and more easily stay awake thereby, it would not do to offer the same benefit to the Eagles on the other side of the campfire.

The two Muskies did more than just debate. They also talked of what life was like in their hometowns, and Courtney used this “compare and contrast” discussion to instruct Ezekiel on how to profitably conduct himself in the presence of girls with more cosmopolitan backgrounds than the farmers’ daughters he was used to dealing with.

Heed my words, Loddfafnir, listen to my counsel;
You’ll be better off if you believe me;
Follow my advice, and you’ll fare well:
If you have faith in a friend of yours,
Go to find him often;
Brushwood and grass will soon grow
On a road no travelers take.

Heed my words, Loddfafnir, listen to my counsel;
You’ll be better off if you believe me;
Follow my advice, and you’ll fare well:
Always be faithful, never be the first
To fail a friendship;
Grief consumes the heart that must take care
To keep itself concealed.

Heed my words, Loddfafnir, listen to my counsel;
You’ll be better off if you believe me;
Follow my advice, and you’ll fare well:
If you are wise, you’ll exchange no words
With fools you find on your way.

If a man’s no good, he will never give you
Your rightful reward;
A worthy man will help you win
Favor and fame.

True bonds are formed where men keep faith
And don’t hide their hearts.
Anything is better than a breach of friendship—
A real friend will say what you’d rather not hear.

Heed my words, Loddfafnir, listen to my counsel;
You’ll be better off if you believe me;
Follow my advice, and you’ll fare well:
If you want to win a woman’s friendship
And be in her good graces,
Make fair promises and fulfill them—
Who tires of treasure if he gets it?

Heed my words, Loddfafnir, listen to my counsel;
You’ll be better off if you believe me;
Follow my advice, and you’ll fare well:
Don’t mock a guest, and never make fun
Of a man you meet on the road!

Those already arrived are often unable
To tell a newcomer’s kin;
You’ll never find a man without a fault
Or one so evil he’s no use at all.

The sayings of the High One heard in her hall
Are helpful to sons of men, harmful to giants.
Hail to the speaker, hail the one she taught!
They’re lucky who have the lore,
Happy if they heed it!


The verses are a partial quotation of “The Lay of Loddfafnir” and the final stanza of its parent poem, “Sayings of the High One” from The Elder Edda, a collection of Viking poetry. In this quotation, the pronouns in the final stanza have been changed from masculine to feminine to make clear that Courtney is the one doing the instructing. (“The High One” of the title actually refers to the Norse god, Odin.)

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