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Weekly Salvo

October 27, 2016



Rockets & Bathrooms

If you Google "common sense" you will find that it is the title of a pamphlet written by Thomas Paine in 1775 to 1776, appealing to Americans living in the 13 colonies to seek independence from Great Britain. It used arguments that Paine assumed would appeal to the majority of men's faculties for logic. Human beings are equipped to put two and two together to make four, to realize that two mutually exclusive claims cannot both be true, and so on. We have common sense, which Wikipedia says is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that is shared by ("common to") nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without need for debate."

It is very difficult, or perhaps merely frustrating, to have to argue for a position that has never before been debated because it has been considered self-evident, known by common sense.

What if, for example, some earnest young man is offended by your use of the word "up" and insists that you spell out exactly what you mean by the word up. Before you roll your eyes, or maybe after, try this thought experiment: write out a definition of the word that takes into consideration the fact that someone pointing up in London would not be pointing in the same direction at all as someone pointing up in Sydney, Australia. If up means over one's head, it won't work for someone hanging upside down either. It could mean towards the sky, but doesn't always-- what does up mean if you are floating inside the international space station or on a rocketship headed towards Mars? Well, whether floating space or scuba diving in Sydney Harbor, people can say "up" without confusion.

But coming up with a written description or defense of such common usage is not readily done—because we haven't needed it. For a similar reason, I think, it seems many have been ambushed or caught flat-footed by the demands of self-identified "transsexuals" to make special accommodations when it comes to public bathrooms.

Common sense reminds us that bathrooms exist for simple biological functions: bodily waste removal and (afterwards) bodily cleansing. Bathrooms have been designed to suit the biology of those engaging in biological acts. Additionally and importantly, human modesty requires a separation of the sexes in public facilities, and that modesty requires not exposing certain parts of our bodies (those unique to each of the two sexes) to members of the opposite sex. Is it the case that we have lost a sense of common modesty?

It should not be so difficult to argue that a men's bathroom is for those with male bodies. A bathroom exists not to  affirm or deny someone's masculinity or femininity, nor to be a salon for pondering philosophy or listening to poetry or classical music. But when people challenge common sense and ask you to prove something never before debated, it can be frustrating, but hardly impossible. We all know what a bathroom is for. Ask any kindergartner. It's not rocket science.

Related articles from the Salvo archives:

Doctors Delusional
Transgender Disorder & Really Bad Psychiatry
by Boris Vatel

Apples, Oranges & Gay Marriage
Or the Name Game & Hidden Assumptions
by Robin Phillips

Vantage Point
How to See Outside the Box
by Cameron Wybrow

Also, be sure to take a look at the new issue of Salvo!



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