Monday, 11 July 2016

Pizza and Voice

Just a short thing to record an analogy I've been thinking about, to explain the concept of non-literal political voice, in the simplest way possible. I was aiming for something I could explain to my youngest students, if necessary.

Say we're ordering pizza as a group. In a dictatorship, you (yes, you) get no say in the toppings. The dictator decides that. Maybe you can persuade the dictator to give you what you want on the pizza, but most dictators will want something in return, and even if you're nice to them, there's still no rule that says they ever owe you anything. If they want cabbage on their pizza, and not your olives, there will be cabbage and no olives.

So we have democracy instead. In a democracy, everyone gets a say in the pizza toppings, so that's definitely more fair. But sometimes democracies don't run perfectly. Sometimes there's a loud guy, just yelling "BROCCOLI!" over and over, and the person on the other end at the pizza place can't possibly hear you saying "olives..." in a quiet voice. The pizza you get then will most likely have broccoli and no olives.

So what's the solution? To shout as loud as broccoli guy? That could certainly help temporarily. The problem with that is that you then become a problem too, your louder voice starts blocking out someone else's. And that means they have to start shouting too, and soon everyone's shouting all at the same time, and pizza place can't hear any of it. And even if they can make out the loudest voices, that means those who can't shout loud still can't get heard. You still end up with people not getting a chance to order the toppings they want.

And sometimes it's more important to hear some voices than others, like the one saying they're fatally allergic to olives.

The best long-term solution, something that'll work every time you make a group order, is to make the ones who start out loudest learn to control their voices and shut up long enough to give everyone else a chance.