My son, the 8 9 year old philosopher
So yesterday we had an intense discussion about something at his school called 'demerit hall' in which students who have accrued a certain number of 'strikes' for various infractions must spend a Saturday morning at the school engaged in some sort of boring labor like landscaping, cleaning up litter, etc. This punishment is by no means common, and is held out as a sort of 'last resort' in the chain which would end in expulsion (I know of only 2 children who have ever actually had to do demerit hall)...
So Davey was asking about actually going to demerit hall, and made assertions like, "How could they force you to go? You could just *not* go on the Saturday you're supposed to go, right? I mean, it's not like they have control over your BODY, right Daddy? It's not like they can move your arms and legs and make you go to demerit hall, right?"
I replied, "Yes you're absolutely right, you own your own body and you choose for yourself to a very large degree where you go and what you do."
"So how can they make you go to demerit hall?"
"Well, they can escalate the threats of punishment I suppose, they could tell the bus driver not to come to our house anymore until you come in for demerit hall, they could forbid you from going on field trips or going out at recess or being a part of the chess club... they could say you can't check any more books out from the library until you go... if all that didn't work I suppose they might expell you and say you're not welcome at the school any more...
"Right, but I still wouldn't have gone to demerit hall!"
"That's absolutely true, but Davey what I haven't talked about here is the contractual obligation we have towards the school. We agreed when we enrolled you that certain methods of discipline like detention (stay 45 minutes after school and do extra school work) and demerit hall were acceptable. We signed a contract agreeing to tha--"
And before I could finish, with the absolute most quietly dismissive/triumphant sound to his voice, he politely interrupted with, "I didn't sign anything!"
"Use the flame of knowledge to light candles, not peoples' hair"-- S. Molyneux