Grade My Analogy

May 23, 2005 at 2:53pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Recently, somebody presented to me a deeply flawed analogy defending the smoking ban in Lincoln. I pointed out that the analogy was flawed and came up with my own. I kind of like this analogy, but I’m sure it isn’t perfect. I’m a pretty mediocre analogy-maker. What I’m asking is for you, faithful readers, to critique this analogy and help me make it better. Here it is:

You invite all your neighbors over to a party in your basement. Your neighbors know you throw great parties, so they all want to come. The problem is, you’ll be showing a Husker game on your 55” plasma HDTV, but most of your neighbors are Notre Dame fans. A few of your Notre Dame fan neighbors respect your rights as the party-thrower to show the Husker game rather than the concurrent Notre Dame game; some will go to your party anyway, and some will just decide to stay home or go elsewhere. But the rest of your neighbors are jerks. They think that since you offered them an invitation to your party, they get to control what happens at the party. They call you up before the party and say: “We took a vote. Two-thirds of us want to watch the Notre Dame game, so we’re going to watch the Notre Dame game.”

You are furious, and rightfully so. What gives them the right to say what YOU show on YOUR television at YOUR party? If they don’t like it, they don’t have to come! There are plenty of parties out there; why don’t they go to a different one that happens to be showing a Notre Dame game? Why don’t they have their own Notre Dame party? Why didn’t they at least /ask/ you to show the Notre Dame game instead of the Husker game? At least then you would have known that their feelings were strong, and that if you wanted them to come, you would probably have to show a different game. But at least you would get to have a say in the matter.

You don’t have many options.

You could cancel the party, but you already spent so much money on food and party favors. You could put up a fight, but you don’t really have the energy, and you don’t want to alienate your neighbors. Plus, you don’t want to get in trouble with the neighborhood association, the Board and President of which are mostly Notre Dame fans. Or you could quietly give in and watch your private property rights slowly erode. But at least you still get to have a party.

Your Fighting Irish neighbors had a heckuva good time at your party, eating your food, watching your TV. Meanwhile, you and your closest friends—the ones you really were holding the party for in the first place, were forced to sit outside in the rain, watching the game on a fuzzy 12” black & white TV.

But at least the majority got its way, right?

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The Comments

Mr. T May 24, 2005 at 2:25am

Nice rhetoric and flow. However, the 2 big loopholes your adversary would/will pick up on is:

1) Huskers = evil health threat whereas Irish bans the evil health threat;

and more importantly -

2) You are equating your basement (personal home where you have many liberties) with a place of business (which is not subject to the same deference a personal home has when it comes to regulating public health and labor laws).

As a place of business, the business owner has to abide with the health and labor laws as mandated by law (ie what “the people” believe the law or policy should be). A business owner can’t just decide to, for example, sell alcohol to minors even though he wants to (and because he can make more $ that way), or because a portion of his customers want to.

Mr. Wilson May 24, 2005 at 3:56pm

1) Bah. Coming from a Hawkeye, that sounds suspiciously like sour grapes.

2) That’s a problem I’m aware of, but I can’t think of a good way to fix it without 1) destroying the analogy or 2) making the analogy unnecessarily complicated. Any suggestions?

Mr. T May 25, 2005 at 5:06am

Well - the house aspect is the key to the rhetorical value of your analogy. If you drop the house concept, it sort of cuts you off at the knees.

Mr. Wilson May 25, 2005 at 2:22pm

...it sort of cuts you off at the knees.

It’s just a flesh wound!

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