I also heard the story of an RA who was unfairly monitoring one of his friends and accusing him of dorm violations that were innocuous (having candles burning in the room) and ratting on him to the powers-that-be without first approaching his friend to discuss said violations. Angel knew this RA in other circumstances and thought him a stand-up guy but now has lost complete respect for him. Of course the violations are all true and shortly after he told me this story he proceeded to describe how he and his new roommate have designed their room for optimal beer hiding.
I believe it is a developmental phenomenon that during your late teens-early twenties it is almost impossible to see shades of gray. Perhaps it is a sort of temporary color blindness. I'm not sure why it is necessary but it certainly makes sense that this is the age we send people to fight in wars. I find the same tendencies in Pumpkin and I remember being that way myself, so it is not gender-specific. This is not to say that they are incapable of seeing shades and texture, but rather that they are initially drawn to the black and white view. And while some people never outgrow the stage, I believe for most it ends by 25.
As a teacher I've seen it in both undergraduate and masters' level classes. It creates a challenge for introducing subjects such as gender, race, and class and how they intersect with my field. Most students want the easy answer. Most want to believe that it is all a matter of individual choice. Challenging them and pushing them to see situations from other perspectives is challenging for me. Using a socratic approach can help but you have to be really skilled not to let the argument boil down into dichotomies. However there are usually older students in both my graduate and undergraduate classes and this can help pull a more balanced discussion. But am I reaching the others? I don't really know.
As a parent it is even more challenging especially in the case of Angel, where I feel the relationship is already a little fragile. I've taken to injecting a possible alternative scenario once or at the most twice in a conversation and then letting it go. I feel its my duty as his mother to point out the shades of gray but I can't make him see them. If I try I believe I'll force him deeper into his black or white stance. And I remember all to well the anger I felt when told I was "going through a phase," so that approach is definitely out. Maybe one day he will recognize it and laugh about it with me as I have recently done with my mother.