Could it get any better? An exit-row seat near the back of the 757 meant 10 feet of legroom to go with a good book, right?
The legroom was awesome. But there would be no stretching out to read on this flight. To my left was a vacationing couple (early 50s), complete with their cruise-line hats and shirts. He was mellow. But she was a nervous flyer. Her husband warned me up front: “She will talk you to death.”
That she did. It didn’t help that I boarded the plane carrying (rather than stowing) Chris Kaczor’s excellent book The Ethics of Abortion. Seizing on the title, she was off to the races. One of her early comments went like this: “So you speak on abortion? Interesting. I'm not for abortion, but I just can't see how anyone could tell a woman who is raped that it’s wrong to have one. That makes absolutely no sense to me.”
Figuring my anticipated read from Kaczor's book was not forthcoming, I engaged using a tactic borrowed from Doug Wilson:
“Tell me, when rape results in pregnancy, how many humans do you think are involved in that pregnancy—two or three?”
“Two…no, three [turning to her husband], three, right? Ya, three.”
“I agree. Let’s talk about each one. Is the rapist guilty and does he deserved to be punished?”
“Agreed. Should we execute him for the rape?”
“No! I’m against the death penalty. He should be in jail for a long time, maybe forever.” (Husband jumps in with a smile: “Honey, stop now. This isn’t going to end well for you.”)
“Is the woman guilty? Should we execute her for the rape?”
“Of course not! That’s terrible! That’s what those Muslim countries do—what do they call those things, honor killings?—where the woman gets raped and her husband or father kills her because she’s defiled the family name. That just plain evil.”
“Agreed. Now what about her unborn offspring, is he guilty?”
“So of the three people involved in the pregnancy resulting from rape, you won’t execute the guilty rapist but you will execute the innocent child?”
[Husband nodding, immediately grasping my point]
"Oh. Let me think about this for a minute..."
We had a fruitful conversation from that point forward. I didn't convince her on the spot, but perhaps I gave her something to think about. As Dennis Prager points out, clarity is preferable to agreement.