You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Ohio sues to recoup $604K it spent on tainted Enon water cleanup

Compromise can be rational, but not logical


We walked into the coffee place, I grabbed a hand-wrapped peanut butter cookie to split and the question arose.

Would it be a medium or a large coffee?

I went large.

Maybe because I was buying, my friend Denny went medium, saving me a little cash.

Given that it’s a sit-down place with all the coffee urns right there on the counter where you serve yourself, I couldn’t help but ask the nice young man working the register a question: What’s a large coffee get me that a medium doesn’t?

That answer, it turns out, is a little better conscience.

He told me there is officially a no-refill policy.

The people who buy the first cup and stay are allowed a 10-cent break or something like that on the second. Of course, that assumes they ask and just don’t pump the handle and get a refill on their own.

“So, are you going to tackle him if he comes back for a second?” I asked.

The young man said no in a tone indicating his correct conclusion that I am the hopeless person I appear to be.

And, as he did, I realized I had ventured into yet another awkward region governed by a longstanding human principle: “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

The last thing a coffee shop with a laid back atmosphere wants is a Ben Stein character bellowing “Bueller” or a Principal Jones tracking down caffeine violators as he tried to track down the Matthew Broderick character in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

On the other hand, the shop can’t really afford to give away coffee all day to the customers-turned-loiterers who’d want to sleep on the couches overnight unless their mothers or a store employee said they can’t.

Thus, reasonable folks don’t ask about the policy when they go for a refill, and the folks behind the register don’t tell. So, aside from the staff, only bona fide idiots know about the policy, because, for the most part, asking and telling isn’t worth the bother.

The episode made me think of what people 30 years from now are going to make of “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military version.

Probably that it lacks logic and rationality.

And they’ll be half right.

To me it seems like the three-fifths compromise that, for representational purpose in Congress, allowed slave holding states to count each slave as three-fifths of a citizen for determining how many congressmen each state was allowed.

No, it wasn’t logical to count anyone as three-fifths of a person for any purpose. And, no, it wasn’t logically consistent, in a way, to count slaves at all, if they weren’t considered citizens — particularly since they’d have no representation in the government.

But that wasn’t what the discussion of the time was about. It was, instead, about the balance of power between the Northern states that did not have slaves and the Southern states, whose populations held slaves in large proportions.

At the Constitutional Convention, the two sides crunched the numbers and came up with a fraction that made the leaders of the Southern states less worried about being bullied by the North in the legislative body of a future Union. All of that seems stupid unless one considered the risk of there not being a Union.

To those at the time, the solution wasn’t so much logical as it was practical and rational. It was a way to solve the problem that could have kept the country from being founded.

That’s the thing about us humans — we aren’t logical, but we can, sometimes, be rational.

Given that, it would be illogical to expect our history to be a steady march across a logical grid of progress. It’s a particularly ridiculous expectation when we consider that we build our logical arguments from different starting points on the grid — starting points set by our assumptions.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the three-fifths compromise, are the kinds of things that are more true to our way of doing things.

So often when we look at history, scratch our heads and say “go figure,” that’s probably what the people of the time were trying to do.

But because their starting points were different from ours, we can’t make sense of it.

Can I get you a refill?


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Dayton Air Show: Visitors turn out despite Thunderbirds cancellation 
Dayton Air Show: Visitors turn out despite Thunderbirds cancellation 

As the Vectren Dayton Air Show kicks off Saturday some visitors came to the show, unaware of Friday’s Thunderbird crash and cancellation of their performance Saturday. Michael Werchowski, 44, brought his 11-year-old son, Miles, hoping to see the Thunderbirds, but didn’t know they weren’t performing until he arrived at Dayton International...
LIVE COVERAGE: Saturday at the Vectren Dayton Air Show
LIVE COVERAGE: Saturday at the Vectren Dayton Air Show

The gates have opened and flights for the 2017 Dayton Vectren Air Show are scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. and will conclude around 4:15 p.m. Gates for Saturday’s show will close at 6 p.m. Saturday’s line-up will include flights from the following acts and others (times are approximate) Suzuki Extra 300 12:05 p.m. B-25 Doolittle Raid...
Clark Co. community turns into ‘Wellville’ for a day
Clark Co. community turns into ‘Wellville’ for a day

New Carlisle community members are welcomed to spend 'A Day in Wellville' Saturday morning at a one day health and wellness fair.  The fair will be held on Main and Washington Street from 10 a.m. to noon.  Clark County Combined Health District, and Family and Youth Initiatives got together with the New Carlisle Farmer's Market to provide...
Stafford happy to be grounded
Stafford happy to be grounded

I didn’t know it Thursday as I was driving south on Fountain Avenue, crossing the tracks at the Heritage Center and making a left into the parking lot next to the Hollenbeck-Bayley Conference Center. But for the first time in years, I was about to be grounded. MORE: Stafford: Distractions can turn thoughts in new directions The grounding was...
Dayton Air Show today: Here’s what we know
Dayton Air Show today: Here’s what we know

The Vectren Dayton Air Show is set to take off today with one a full line-up minus the headline act of the Air Force Thunderbirds. A two-seat F-16D Thunderbird fighter jet went off the runway Friday at Dayton International Airport and flipped onto a grassy area, trapping a pilot and a crew member inside until first responders could remove the two from...
More Stories