Friday, May 1, 2009

Convertibles & Choice

We revisit subject matter in class all through the year, depending on how important it is, or how much it relates to the topic at hand. Abortion is a big deal (no, not the only big deal), so it comes up in different contexts. One such context is the issue of free will (a good thing), which some kids will conflate with 'choice' in the abortion sense. We discuss the incorrect idea that some of them have already imbibed, that to endorse 'choice' is not a de facto condoning of abortion.

For most of my life I've been around convertibles. I grew up in a convertible family, and I currently have an inherited Oldsmobile that's a bit older than the one in the picture.

What do you call a car that has a roof that goes up and down? A convertible.

Yes. I have one. I can choose to have the the roof up or down. Most cars aren't like that. The roof is permanently up. You can't choose to have the roof up or down on most cars. With a convertible you have an alternative.

So...trick question, do I have a convertible so I can have that choice, up or down? Well.....why else would you have it? They sense something is wrong with the question, how it's phrased.

Let me ask it this way: suppose I buy a new convertible. My neighbor comes over, says: pretty car, is it nice with the top down? I say, I don't know. I'm not ever going to put it down. What would he think? Then why did you get a convertible?

Well, maybe I just like the idea of being able to have the top up or down even if I'll never put it down. What's wrong with that? But if you aren't going to ever put it down it doesn't matter if it goes down or not.

So if the reason to have a convertible isn't to be able to put the top up or down, what is the reason for one? To put the top down.

Yes. The whole idea of being able to choose doesn't mean anything if no choice is going to be made. I can choose to punch myself in the I ever going to? Ha! NO!

And if I choose to not punch myself in the nose, am I really choosing anything? No, it only matters if you pick the other thing.

Yes. Not hitting myself is normal, typical, standard, just like the roof on a car. It's not a choice, not an alternative. I don't sit around all day & constantly choose not to hit myself. But I would have to choose if I did punch myself; that would be the alternative.

So does it matter that I can choose to punch myself in the nose? No. Why? Because you won't ever do it.

Right, that'd be what we'd call a theoretical choice, I'd never choose that, it's just a idea with no practical value. Like a convertible top that never goes down.

On the other hand, a long time ago it was against the law to drink alcohol, but adults are free to choose to drink nowadays. I like being able to choose....why? 'Cause you like to have a beer after class! (having a beer after class is a running joke)

That's right, I do! But at the same time I know a lot of lives are ruined by drinking and thousands of people get killed by drunk drivers. But I want a beer sometimes, or wine with dinner, and even though much pain is caused by other people's's worth it to me. I don't support drunk driving, but I have to accept that by insisting on my right to have a drink, that other innocent people will die because of alcohol. I have to be OK with a small way, I share responsibility for those deaths & ruined lives because I am pro-choice on alcohol, even though personally I have never hurt anyone by drinking alcohol.

Now suppose I say I'm not in favor of the death penalty, but I'm pro-choice on the death penalty. I support the right of judges & juries to choose to have criminals executed, but I don't support the death penalty. Is that ok? No...that doesn't make sense.....

Yes. And if I say I'm pro-choice on abortion but don't support abortion? That doesn't make sense either.

Now, y'all know that people can have abortions in America. People will say they don't support abortion, abortions are terrible, but they want us to have the right to choose an abortion. Now if someone wants the right to choose an abortion, but refuses to ever have one, what's the point?
There isn't a point. Right, so what is the point of choice in this case? To have an abortion.

Yes. Remember the convertible top, remember my un-punched nose, and remember my beer: if you don't want to choose the alternative, then you won't care about the choice. And if you support the choosing, you share in the responsibility for the choice.

Speaking of my nose: do you know why it is such a handsome nose? It's not handsome! you know why it's so handsome? Why?'s hand-picked!
And the 6th grade girls say "EEEeeewww!"