Ask Conlan: The Controversial Survey (Part 3)

As you’ll recall Parts 1 and 2 from the past, here is Part 3 of my answers to The Controversial Survey.

11. A twelv​e year old girl has a baby,​​​ shoul​d she keep it?
This is kind of a silly question. I mean, who would give a 12-year-old girl a baby? Talk about a spoiled kid. My 9-year-old cousin, he’s always asking for candy and toys and everything else whenever I’m watching him. Sometimes I’ll get something for him, but most of the time I just have to say “No.” And he always says, “Why?” And I say, “Because we’re not going to get that this time.” The answer doesn’t satisfy him, but that’s how it goes. It’s the only way he’ll learn. If he asked me for a baby, I’d tell him “No.” He’d ask why and I’d say “Because we’re not getting a baby today.” I think that’s the only reasonable response. Gee whiz.

But that’s not the question. The question supposes this spoiled brat already has the baby, and should she keep it. Supposing, as I am (correctly), that this girl is spoiled, she’s probably going to lose interest in it within a couple weeks and will start asking for an iPhone or something. So, I would say no, she shouldn’t keep it. She should donate it to the Salvation Army or something. There are a lot of less fortunate kids out there who really want a baby and would appreciate it a lot more than that little brat.

12. Shoul​d the alcoh​ol age be lower​ed to eight​een?​​​
On the surface, I see where this question is coming from: An 18-year-old is old enough to fight in a war for his country but not to get wasted for his country? It’s like a logical contradiction or something. But only on the surface. You see, medical science and observation has determined 21 to be the suitable age for people to handle drinking alcohol. Of course we all know that many people over 21 drink alcohol and act like idiots, which means there are many people under 21 who could drink it and not act like idiots (actually, it does not necessarily mean this—it’s a logical fallacy—however, for the sake of argument, I think we can agree that there are some people under 21 who can handle their booze). But this is where we find beauty in the arbitrary. We do not have the resources as a society to individually evaluate every single person every year, beginning at age 16, to see if they should be allowed to drink (and we can’t rely on parents to monitor this, either: I saw a recent election commercial—with convincing sound effects!—that said some parents will stick bamboo shoots under their teenage daughter’s fingernails if she gets pregnant… Parents are assholes!). We don’t have the means to evaluate this, nor to enforce it. Therefore, the arbitrary selection of age 21 for alcohol consumption (and it is arbitrary; no one can dispute this) allows a healthy presumption that one will be able to handle it, at least physically. Inevitably there will be exceptions, but practicality demands this method. The arbitrary age might be lowered to 18, but given the prevalence of alcohol abuse and addiction—as well as the greater likelihood of negative physical effects—my question to you is, why? ((Sorry, that was a real answer. I’ll try to joke harder in the next one.))

13. Shoul​d the war in Iraq be calle​d off?
Seems like it would be hard to get ahold of. I’m not even sure if we have the phone number. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say we do. It’s always a disappointment to a lot of people when big events are called off. Usually people have already scheduled things around it and it’s a such a hassle to try to get your money back. So I’d say calling it off would be too drastic. If they need to take something like a rain delay or whatever, that’d probably be OK. I mean, not only is war hard to do in the rain, but it’s less enjoyable too. So I’d be OK with that. But “calling off”? Nah. And, like I said, the line would probably be busy anyway.

14. Assis​ted suici​de is illeg​al do you agree​?​​​
I agree. At least I’m pretty sure it is in most places. Possibly not in Vermont or Euthanasiachussetts. But generally speaking, I agree: it’s illegal.

15. Do you belie​ve in spank​ing your child​ren?​​​
I assume you mean parents spanking their children, since I don’t have any legitimate children, personally.

Let me tell you a story. When I was growing up, I didn’t get spanked. I’d hear about it, on TV and stuff, but my family just didn’t believe in spanking. We didn’t look down on others who did believe in it (although sometimes my aunt would make snide remarks about parents who believed in spanking their older children: “Don’t they read the newspaper?”, etc.). So that was just the way I was brought up.

But then something happened. My parents got divorced, and my dad remarried. And the woman he married had a son around my age. And they did believe in spanking children. I guess my dad was still trying to make a good impression, so he told me I had to pretend to believe in spanking. This annoyed me because I had never believed in it before, and I wasn’t planning on it. And my poor sister—she was probably 6 or 7 at the time—she was so confused. She said she did believe in spanking, and even tried to convince me to believe too. It was a mess. I vowed to never ever believe in spanking children.

Then, late one winter night, a noise woke me. I crept downstairs to see what all the scuffling was about. I realized it was coming from outside, in front of our house. On my hands and knees, I peeled back the curtain, just enough to take a peek. There, out in the bitter cold, I saw it. A huge man in red sweatpants and one of those jackets with the wooly collars and a red beanie. He was holding something. A bag of trash, maybe. But wait, what was this? There was someone else with him. A little boy, not much younger than I was. The man seemed to be having a stern conversation with the boy. Then the little boy gave him some sass. You know: sass. That’s when the big guy, who I guess was the kid’s dad, set down his big trash bag. He tucked an arm under the kid’s belly so his butt was in the air, and gave it two swift smacks. I could see the kid’s foggy breath as he gasped. I tumbled back from the window, the curtain drifted closed, and I whispered, “I do believe…”

From that night on, whenever some ivory tower egghead gets on his soapbox and says, in his egghead accent, “As a compassionate person with a PhD., I simply do not believe in the spanking of children”—well, I just sit quietly and smile to myself. Because I know the truth. I saw it with my own eyes…

OK, that’s all for now. The fourth and final part will be upon you shortly.