Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On U-Shaped Toilet Seats and Appeasement

A couple months ago, my roommates installed cushioned toilet seats in our two bathrooms. They thought it would be a great idea: "it'll be so sweet." I haven't pooped in the house since. I just don't like the idea, as to me it seems impossible that the squishy leather seats repel butt sweat in the same way that do the porcelain classics. And thus, considering that I am convinced that our cushioned seats are at least semi-permeable to butt sweat, I have been spending a lot of time in my college's (pretty nice) bathroom stalls.

It is becoming more clear each day that the U-Shaped toilet seats, common in public bathrooms, were designed with the same motivations that guided the Allies' appeasement policy in World War II. Consider the purpose of the U-Shape.

First, for the purpose of the argument, let's assume that leaving the toilet seat down when peeing standing up is "bad". Faced with these "bad" men, what do the public restrooms do? They might say, "Ok, we know that you are an unavoidably bad person and that you are not going to lift the seat. So, we will meet you halfway, and we will leave you some breathing room, right down the middle of the seat, so that your dribbles don't get on the best parts of our seats." In other words, the public restrooms make concessions: they implement the U-Shape toilet seat, sacrificing one part of the seat for the overall benefit.

Now, how do the villains interpret this message. You, (we), they, confronted with the U seat policy, now have much less motivation to be "good" and lift the seat. If the toilet seat had remained a donut, there would have been no plausible exit strategy to peeing with the seat down. But when the donut is a U, there are options. I imagine that in their heads the villains might confess: "Well I was going to lift the seat, but then I saw that you had left me an escape route, so I just went for it."

When we appease, we do not discourage the intrinsic evil of men, we only give them options. What we must do is commit to making the tough decisions, regardless of the short term costs. It will never be easy, and it might get messy, but we must always force the criminal into criminality, and not offer him space.

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