Friday, June 01, 2007

A parable

A few months ago, my son came over and told me he was running for Grand Wizard.

“If I become Grand Wizard,” he said, “I will be able to veto most of the lynchings that come up for a vote. Then I’ll really have the power to reduce the number of people getting killed or beaten up.”

“But son!” I exclaimed in horror. “People – other than you, let’s say – only join the Klan so they can lynch people. If all they want to do is lynch people, why on earth would they vote you in? And if you somehow got in, the moment you stopped them from lynching, they’d just toss you out! If you stop the Klan from lynching, it’s not the Klan anymore!”

“No,” he said earnestly, “it’s still the Klan – it’s just a smaller Klan that lynches less!”

“Twenty years ago,” I said softly, “you said that in a perfect world, there would be no lynching at all…”

“Sure,” he said, coloring slightly. “But I can’t talk about that. About there being no lynching at all. I mean, that would be mad – I’d never get elected Grand Wizard!”

“Right, so you’re on a ‘pro-lynching’ platform, you just want less lynching.”

“Yes,” he said, nodding vigorously, immune to irony.

“So it’s wrong to lynch a lot, but it’s right to lynch a little.”

“Well, ideally, there should be no lynching at all…”

“But that’s not what you’re telling people. You’re telling people that the right thing to do is lynch less.”

“Sure – because less lynching is better than more lynching.”

“But no lynching is better, right?”

“Yes, in an ideal world…”

“So why don’t you tell people that? That you want to take over the Klan in order to abolish it!”

He laughed. “Oh, I don’t think that’s the right idea. Right now, we need the lynchings. We need the Klan. It’s just gotten too big.”
How much lynching is just enough for you?