The subjects were protest and time.
A thoughtful teen told me that protest today just doesn't have the efficiency that protest must have had, say, in the '60s.
I told her she had a misimpression.
The Supreme Court ruled segregated schools unconstitutional in 1954, I told her, yet 30 years later some school districts still resisted it.
Now consider the issue of human rights for human beings who happen to be homosexual or transgendered.
One might say: Behold the modern-day efficacy of the protests that caused Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to walk back his support of a "religious freedom" law clearly meant as a license to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Let's just say that the winners in Indiana, like those presumed to have won in Brown vs. Board of Education, are fools to assume they do not have a long and brutal struggle ahead against an indefatigable foe. It's going to be like a slasher movie with 13 sequels.
Whatever happens with the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage, check back with us in 20 years. Resistance will remain guileful and fierce.
Part of this will be because, as in Jim Crow days, some policy-makers are where they are to reflect prevailing tendencies and prejudices.
Amazing are proponents' attempts to explain away the Indiana measure and the one Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson decided not to sign when his son – and Walmart – asked him not to.
They say all such bills would have done is affirm a 1993 federal law signed by Bill Clinton.
Ah, but back then the iconic consideration was Native Americans having the freedom to smoke peyote in religious rituals.
Today, knowing what likely is coming down the pike with legal gay marriage, everyone knows that the operational icon of the moment is -- horrors – two top-hatted figurines topping a wedding cake.
The problem isn't the wording of such a law this time around. It's the timing and intent -- amid same-sex marriage rulings that social conservatives cannot abide.
On this subject, it is clearer than ever that those who fancy these measures are Christian-right authoritarians, not the libertarians that "conservative" once denoted. And they are running the Republican Party.
Conservatives of the other stripe, foremost Barry Goldwater, were dismayed by those who sought to make government the hand-maiden of religion. Goldwater said that one's sexual orientation is no one's business. It only becomes so, and this applies to people of all sexual persuasions, when others are harmed.
By contrast, Rod Dreher, senior editor of American Conservative, uses telling religious-right terminology in explaining how the civil rights of gays and lesbians cannot be compared to that of the civil rights of people of color: "Sexual expression," he writes, "has moral meaning that race does not."
But of course, the brand of discrimination saluted by the religious right isn't about "sexual expression." It is about sexual orientation.
Dreher's appeal reminds one of the claims of the white Citizens Councils of the South. They didn't wish ill for black people, they said. Their problem was "agitators," and communists – like that preacher, Dr. King -- disrupting their idea of normalcy.
Say what you will, but this new front in the quest for human rights has echoes of King and Gandhi and, dare I say, Jesus Christ.
Right now, a host of states are readying for battle should the Supreme Court say they can't forbid people of the same sex from marrying.
Darned right. And along with the 10 Commandments they would erect in the public square, inscribe this statement: "This state does not consider all men to be created equal under the law."
And, so, as it always has, attaining justice for all -- that Pledge of Allegiance vow -- is going to take time.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.