It’s Thanksgiving Week! November is flying by; Halloween Week (and Halloween!) seem like yesterday. Yesterday was a crisp, autumnal day, a brief respite of warmth before cold weather returned to South Carolina this morning.
As a teacher, one of my favorite “weeks” of the school year is this one. I put “weeks” in quotation marks because, from a teaching perspective, this isn’t truly a “week,” or even a “short week” (four days, such as the Labor Day holiday early in the academic year). Instead, it’s two days of either cramming in tests and material, or of laconically drifting into the glorious Thanksgiving Break.
When I was a kid, we still had school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but I remember when the school district caved to reality and began giving us Wednesday off, too. There was much adolescent celebration that day.
Inevitably, a third day of break wasn’t enough. Kids, like adult progressives, are never satisfied. I myself have called for a week off at Thanksgiving, but I prudently offer up a couple of lesser holidays and/or teacher workdays to make up the difference.
Regardless, family vacations that used to hit the road on Wednesday—thus pulling junior out of school a day early—are now leaving on Tuesday, with the same result. The three-day week became a two-day one; the two-day week is now, essentially, a single day in which some modicum of learning might occur. Or it’s just a film festival.
I fully anticipate mass absenteeism, a la the French army during the First World War, tomorrow. The shirkers and opportunistic vacationers are already out the door, though our attendance numbers are better today than I predicted.
I often speculate—will schools and districts eventually cave and give up the whole week? The problem of the logic that states, “everyone is going to be gone anyway, so let’s take this day off, too” is that it never ends. Logically there’s no limit to it, but practically we all recognize that reductio ad absurdum is, indeed, absurd. No one but the most furtive school skipper would advocate taking off the whole year.
There is, perhaps, a lesson—albeit a discursive one—here for slippery slopers and “limiting principles” types: sometimes “logically valid” doesn’t mean it’s logically sound (I’m sure the logic nerds will emerge from their Internet hidey holes to pillory me). Sometimes the limiting principle is Reality itself. Only radicals, libertarians, and high-functioning autists don’t understand this concept.
That said, my sympathies lie, naturally, with the slippery slopers. Sometimes the slippery slope is real, and quite slick, especially when progressives are the ones pouring the grease. Every social conservative knew that same-sex marriage would lead to the undermining of the institution itself, and that the progressive Left would just search for some new “civil rights” frontier to conquer. Now we have trannies and cross-dressers reading books and exposing themselves to four-year olds, the normalization of pederasty, and all the rest. Soon “marriage” will apply to so many arrangements it will cease to have any meaning at all.
But conservatives have slid down some slopes gleefully while fearing the wrong slippery slopes. Some matters of public policy are up for debate, and the goal posts or numbers involved change over time. Maybe increased immigration made sense in 1965; it surely doesn’t now. A ten-year moratorium on all immigration, legal and illegal, seems prudent today as a way for us to catch our breaths and take stock of the situation (not to mention to assimilate newcomers). That’s not to say it will forever be a good idea.
All grist for the angry, impassioned mill of Thanksgiving conversation with your family and friends. When you’re spergily shouting “slippery slope” at your blue-haired box wine auntie, you can grease the skids with some old-fashioned gravy.