Here’s a bit of fresh fiction, possibly part of a future paper or book some day. Of course, there is purpose behind the madness. (See 2.2.2 here.) It is dedicated to philosopher Bill Hasker. Enjoy.
It was a quiet day at the Salt Lake City Central Police Station. Bill looked at the clock and fiddled with his pen. Two hours till quitting time, and he’d only booked two new arrests. Little did he know, it would still turn out to be an interesting day.
“Bill, wake up.” It was officer Smith, escorting a bearded man in handcuffs. “Book this fellow, would you?”
It was a polygamy case. Bill had seen these from time to time. Although the state of Utah had always outlawed polygamy, and the Mormon church had stopped the practice in 1890, ever since, there had been holdouts, people the media called “Mormon Fundamentalists” who insisted on practicing the old Brigham Young lifestyle, usually out in the boondocks.
“But I’m innocent,” insisted the accused, whose name was Mr. Dienay.
“That’s what they all say,” mumbled Bill, filling out a form.
“Seriously, I have but one wife. But they say I have two.”
“Well, Mr. Dienay, you’ll have you chance to prove that in court. Now, who lives with you?”
“There are my children Alma, Nephi, Ether, and Moroni.” Bill recorded their names, dates of the birth, sexes.
“And there’s my wife Polly. And there’s my wife Molly.”
“I thought you said you only had one wife.”
“Oh, they’re the same wife!”
Bill adopted an uncomprehending stare. “The same wife,” he flatly echoed.
“Mr. Dienay,” continued Bill, “please describe them.”
“Well, Molly is a brunette, about as tall as me, and fair-skinned. Polly is a redhead, very short, and has freckles.”
“And they’re the same wife.”
“If they were the same wife, wouldn’t they be exactly… the same?”
“Oh no, sir. But they’re one wife, all right. I’m a monogamist.”
“That means that you have only one wife, I mean, at a time.”
“I know what “monogamist” means! A monogamist is a man who is married to some woman, and any wife he has is the same wife as her.”
“So, a monogamist can have more than one wife?”
“You’re not listening. Polly and Molly are one wife.”
“Um… what do you mean, what you say that they are one wife.”
“They’re to be counted as one.”
“Yes, I get that… but why?”
“Because, they have exactly the same DNA. Polly and Molly are identical twins. And when the DNA is the same, the wife is the same. They differ, yes, and are two women, but when you understand how to count them, you’ll get the right count, my friend: one. One wife.”
“Good luck with that defense,” laughed Bill. With that, he sent Mr. Deinay to his cell.
As Bill pondered this interesting way of counting wives, officer Smith returned with another arrestee to book. His too was charged with being married simultaneously to two women, and like Mr. Deinay, he denied the charge. His name was Mr. Joyner.
“Mr. Joyner, I need your wives’ names, please.”
“I only have just one wife, sir.”
Bill paused and squinted. “Mr. Joyner, if your one wife puts on a hat, how many hats does she put on?”
“Mr. Joyner, how many full names does your one wife have?”
“Two – Mrs. Jill Joyner and Mrs. Jane Joyner.”
Bill was on to him. “Mr. Joyner, are your wives… I mean, are Jill and Jane identical twins?”
“No, sir. But they are twins.”
“When your one wife puts on a pair of pants, how many pairs does she put on?”
“One – but it’s a special one, with three legs! My wife Jill and Jane are conjoined twins. They share a leg.”
“That’s interesting. I’ve heard of conjoined ladies marrying, but usually it is two two different gentlemen. Anyway, Mr. Joyner, you have two wives. I assume you’re going to plead guilty.”
“No – I’m innocent! How can a monogamist like me confess to bigamy?”
“Mr. Joyner, what do you think a monogamist is?”
“A monogamist, sir, is a man who is married to a woman, and any woman that is his wife has a body not wholly distinct from that woman’s body.”
“So you think that Jill and Jane are one wife.”
“Yes, can you not count?”
“They’re different, so they’re two!”
“Well, two ladies, sure. But you count wives by discrete bodies. If some ladies share a body, or a part of a body, they are exactly one wife. Different wives have non-overlapping bodies.”
Bill had heard enough. “That’s ridiculous. Don’t you know what a wife is?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” shot back Mr. Joyner.
“A wife just is a certain woman, a person, a being with feelings, knowledge, free will.”
“Your point being…?”
“You’ve got two of those. It’s just that they can’t be separated, and they share a body part or two.”
“You’re begging the question,” protested Mr. Joyner.
Both Mr. Joyner and Mr. Deinay lost their cases, and both spent time in Utah low-security penitentiaries.
To be continued…