Written by: Owen Baker

Picture of Ben about to bring up a terrible point.

With just a few words, shockwaves were sent through the walls of BH103, when College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, Ben Bradley, announced that he was going to offer “a devil’s advocate” in a discussion over the merits of current U.S economic policy in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I felt that we were doing a great job as a discussion section at arguing for policies that would benefit working Americans and the unemployed, but at the same time I couldn’t help but think, hey, what about the opinions of people who don’t think giving Americans money for silly things like food and heating is a good use of money, shouldn’t we at least consider their viewpoints”, Bradley said.

The Friday morning discussion section in which Bradley took this radical and unheard of rhetorical position was part of a required A&H course on the history of policies that followed major economic downturns and recessions. It focuses on both current and past policies, according to Lena Jameson, the associate instructor and Political Sciences Graduate Student leading the discussion section.

“Ben has spent most of the semester on his phone staying quiet during our discussions. But I suppose he was spending all that time researching because the second someone mentioned stimulus checks he lifted his head up from his desk with a lot to say. Most of what he had to say concerned me until he ended his 10-minute monologue by saying ‘Just playing Devil’s advocate.’’ Professor Jameson said.  

On whether the arguments he made in the discussion reflect his actual views, Bradley remained ambiguous. During an interview conducted over Zoom video chat, Bradley repeatedly said he thinks his fellow students were making good points.

“While my classmates brought up interesting ideas about stimulus checks and “the necessity of housing” I felt like that conversation was a bit one-sided. I didn’t hear them mention the term “trickle-down economics once!”

Even though it was not brought up during the conversation and the Flipside has found no mention of Bradley’s actions outside of the Canvas grading comments for the discussion, Bradley mentioned that he was rejecting the notion that his actions were ‘heroic’:

 “I’m not a hero. I’m just a normal guy who puts on his Fratagonia one sleeve at a time”