2157: Diploma Legal Notes

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Jump to: navigation, search
Diploma Legal Notes
If you're planning to challenge the royal family, you should probably wait 6-8 weeks, since a number of the younger ones have diplomas and Kate was actually on the varsity lightsaber team at St Andrews.
Title text: If you're planning to challenge the royal family, you should probably wait 6-8 weeks, since a number of the younger ones have diplomas and Kate was actually on the varsity lightsaber team at St Andrews.


A class of 2019 graduate, presumably for some college or university, is given some rather unusual privileges for graduating.

A common line in degree granting ceremonies is "the degree of X is conferred with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto." This dates from the Roman Empire and continued through the rise of the university as an institution in medieval times. In the Roman era, the rights and privileges accorded to physicians and scholars included exemption from certain civic duties and military services, immunity from certain levies and from being summoned to court unduly, and even granting a state salary. In the medieval era, rights generally mirrored those of ecclesiastical figures and included immunity from civil law (instead scholars were subject to canon, or church law), as well as safe conduct on their travels between jurisdictions.

While true that some degrees do grant professional privileges today, generally additional accreditation beyond the degree is required (passing the bar, medical certification, etc.) to gain anything most people would consider a privilege or right or incur any obligation. (The obligation to pay your student loans back exists regardless of completing your degree).

You may now legally perform marriages and arrest people.
Depending on the jurisdiction, these may or may not be privileges that one already has by virtue of being in a particular jurisdiction or being part of a particular culture.
In some cultures, a couple might be recognized as married if they meet certain conditions (as opposed to being legally recognized by a religious or civil authority), such as being recognized by the community or after the birth of their first child. Because states often provide benefits (tax reductions, social services, etc) for being married, they often require that, in order to receive the benefits, that a marriage have a registered person recognize the marriage, which is likely the privilege that this graduating class' diploma is supposedly granting.
In common law jurisdictions, citizen's arrest is legal without a warrant in some situations, although in many cases, it is better to let a police officer arrest criminals due to potential legal and safety issues that might arise. The privilege granted by graduating might grant or extend this privilege, depending on where the graduating class is located.
If you have your diploma with you, you can use grocery store express lanes with any number of items.
It has become common for a small number of checkout lanes of a larger store to be explicitly reserved as "express" lanes for the use of those with, for example, fewer than 10 items. This lets someone with a few items (handheld, in a basket, or possibly in a low-capacity cart) who will pass through quickly avoid being held up by people purchasing larger numbers of items who will take longer.
In some cases, shoppers may try to argue the true meaning of "fewer than N items" in their favor, for example by arguing that "3 for the price of 2" promotions should only count as two items. The prevailing interpretation of "express" may be driven by the opinion of the surrounding shoppers who are also queuing for an express checkout lane and who may express displeasure at the taking of such liberties.
Whether or not it is genuinely more beneficial to have the privilege of using the express lane with any number of items is arguable due to various complex factors, but the new holder of the diploma (who is, ironically, now possibly capable of defining the number of items more rigorously depending upon the academic subject just mastered) need not concern themselves with counting the number of items in their basket or ever needing to wait behind slow shoppers ever again (provided they always carry their diploma with them when they do their shopping).
All graduates are entitled to delete one word of their choice from the Oxford English Dictionary.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press. It is unclear what benefit deleting a word from the OED would provide, and doing so would prevent anyone else from looking up the word which would typically be seen as a disadvantage. As the OED is often used as an authority on which words are valid words in the English language (for example for word games such as Countdown), perhaps the intention is that such "deleted" words are in fact removed from the English language itself. For example, Lake Superior State University has an annual tradition of publishing a list of "banished words" that they consider to be overused.
A different interpretation is the right to delete literally one word from the text of the dictionary. While mostly useless, it could be used to alter some definitions, removing some details or even completely reversing the meaning by deleting "not".
The OED contains around 228000 words. Given that US universities and colleges alone are expected to award around 1.9 million bachelor's degrees each year, this policy could lead to a rapid collapse of the OED.
The university will mail you your working lightsaber within 6-8 weeks.
Doctoral degree recipients wear various forms of dress or other items. For example, in Finland a doctoral sword is traditional. A lightsaber is a fictional weapon from the Star Wars universe which is used in a manner similar to a sword. Any lightsaber created in real life would likely be highly-regulated due to its extreme power (in Star Wars, lightsabers are capable of cutting or burning through most materials and is only stopped by few things such as another lightsaber). Building a lightsaber is an important part of becoming a Jedi Knight, but Apprentices must find and assemble the parts themselves as part of their training and education; the only lightsabers they are given by the Temple are low-powered training lightsabers. Hacksmith Industries has created a lightsaber in real life.
"6-8 weeks" is a meme made popular on Stack Overflow meaning that the person making the estimate has no idea how long something is actually going to take or whether it's even going to happen at all.
You can send mail without stamps.
The franking privilege allows sending mail without stamps and is often granted to legislators conducting "official business." A group of legislators elected at the same time may sometimes be referred to as the "class of year" (such as "the congressional freshman class of 2019..."), which may be seen as a parallel to a year of graduates from a university.
You have earned the right to challenge the British royal family to trial by combat. If you defeat them all, the throne is yours.
"Trial by combat" or "ritual combat" was a manner to settle disputes where two individuals would engage in a duel, with the winner being declared right. This type of ritual combat was depicted in the film Black Panther, with the winner of the combat declared the king of Wakanda. T'Challa, the Black Panther, was victorious in a fight against M'Baku, but was defeated by Erik Killmonger.
The British royal family consists of the descendants and relatives of the current King, Charles III. However, the line of succession to the throne consists of potentially over 4,000 individuals; it is possible that a challenger would have to duel all of them, starting at the bottom of the line. The British royal family was also referenced in 2003: Presidential Succession.
You may now ignore "Do Not Pet" warnings on airport security dogs.
Security dogs are typically used in airports for the purpose of identifying explosives, drugs, or other prohibited items by smell. Although these dogs often work in private areas of the airport, they may sometimes be seen in public areas.
Since dogs, in most western societies, are primarily kept as pets, it's a common reaction to want to interact playfully with the animals. This is prohibited for security dogs for multiple reasons. Petting the dog can distract it and otherwise prevent it from carrying out its job. In some cases the dogs may be aggressive to unsolicited contact. Criminals might deliberately attempt to distract or even poison security dogs to prevent detection. As such, the dogs typically carry a warning to not pet them and someone who ignores the warning will likely be detained for questioning. However, according to this comic, the holder of the diploma is supposedly permitted to pet such dogs with no consequences, despite the warnings.

The title text builds on the items about lightsabers and the British royal family and advises that, because several of the younger royals also have diplomas, they have received their lightsaber already. Thus you should wait at least the 6-8 weeks until your lightsaber arrives to have a fair chance, given that the lightsaber is a very lethal weapon. Also some of them may even be proficient with the weapon. Special mention goes to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, who was supposedly on the varsity lightsaber team at St Andrews.


[An official document with a title at the top between two images of graduation hats on either side:]
Congratulations, Class of 2019!
Your diploma grants you many new powers and privileges. These include:
  • You may now legally perform marriages and arrest people.
  • If you have your diploma with you, you can use grocery store express lanes with any number of items.
  • All graduates are entitled to delete one word of their choice from the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • The university will mail you your working lightsaber within 6-8 weeks.
  • You can send mail without stamps.
  • You have earned the right to challenge the British royal family to trial by combat. If you defeat them all, the throne is yours.
  • You may now ignore "Do Not Pet" warnings on airport security dogs.

comment.png add a comment! ⋅ comment.png add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ Icons-mini-action refresh blue.gif refresh comments!


Can I please live on this universe? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Why would waiting 6-8 weeks help with challenging the British royal family for the throne? Surely that just gives them more time to prepare... Hawthorn (talk) 12:41, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

But it takes 6-8 weeks for you to receive your lightsaber. --Lupo (talk) 12:51, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
Thanks, I had not made the connection. But I still don't understand the "since a number of the younger ones have diplomas"? 15:16, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
The younger ones already have a lightsaber, so if you challenge them, you will probably want to first possess a lightsaber as well.
Oh duh, it says right in the comic. I'm an idiot. :) Hawthorn (talk) 15:28, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

I'd rather they sent me my lightsab(re|er) in a powered-down state. Much less fuss, damage to postal sorting/conveying/containing equipment, injury to the various employees involved, etc. Probably also saves on postage costs for the package. (And, as just pointed out, we might just get by the sorting office spies from the palace if the packaging isn't humming and glowing.) 12:45, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

Er, I think "working" means ready to use, not turned on! However, I think shipping regulations would require the unit to be shipped without the nuclear power pack installed, and the user would just need to insert the power unit in the handle before use. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 13:01, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
You read it your way, I'll read it my way. ;) 13:12, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

To me "working lightsaber" means it's not a toy or model. YMMV RIIW - Ponder it (talk) 17:53, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

I did not believe Kate Middleton did anything as genteel as light sabre, I thought she was a hockey player. While she and William graduated from St Andrews, I would have thought they got certificates not diplomas. Charles and Eddie have certificates from Cambridge. Northwestern may have issued a diploma to Meghan. Anyway they are more likely to use real Sabres or polo mallets. -- Arachrah (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

... Enjoy! :P 15:11, 31 May 2019 (UTC)
I looked up William and Kate's info - it appears they both graduated from University of St Andrews with a Scottish Master of Arts degree, which is equivalent to a Bachelor of Arts degree in the United States. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 14:43, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

I think I'd delete the word "gullible", if only to put a bizarre spin on the classic "Did you know 'gullible' isn't in the dictionary?" joke. --Youforgotthisthing (talk) 14:56, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

"The university will mail you your working lightsaber within 6-8 weeks." – Isn't it that PhD's are awarded with a sword in Finland? --Phcc (talk) 16:34, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

"6-8 weeks" could be a reference to StackOverflow/StackExchange: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/19514/353011 Fabian42 (talk) 18:03, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

Ok, this link took me on a weird circular journey, where that page included a link to another page that actually contained a link back to xkcd #1381: Margin. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 00:02, 1 June 2019 (UTC)
"6 to 8 weeks" was super common at least back to the eighties and possibly long prior. Whenever there'd be a TV commercial trying to get you to mail order something or a cereal box offering a prize or even a magazine offering something if you sent them a SASE (a Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope) they would invariably quote the delivery times as 6 to 8 weeks. Mootstrap (talk) 07:31, 2 June 2019 (UTC)
Probably "as old as dirt", as TV Tropes would phrase it. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 00:43, 3 June 2019 (UTC)
6 - 8 weeks is also a meme in Captain Underpants books. Like Mootstrap says above, the main characters mailed in to a catalogue to buy a device for use in a prank. I don't think stack overflow should take the primary credit for this meme. 14:26, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

The following bibliographical text from the end of the first paragraph seemed unnecessary for the explanation, but I'm pasting it here in case anyone might be interested in further reading:

(See Scholarly Privileges, Their Roman Origins and Medieval Expression, Pearl Kibre, in the American Historical Review, Vol 59 No. 3 (April, 1954) at https://www.jstor.org/stable/1844716.
Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 05:31, 1 June 2019 (UTC)

Personally I think this comic is making reference to how some people with degrees tend to act in a self-entitled manner either in the workplace or generally in public places. For example interrupting other people's conversations because "I'm qualified and you're not". 12:10, 1 June 2019 (UTC)

What does deleting delete do?

It disallows others deleting any word. 17:38, 1 June 2019 (UTC)

I would delete the word "it" 06:06, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

Maximum havoc would be wreaked by deleting the word "dictionary" from the...um, what's it called? Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 13:17, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

ALL graduates could delete ONE word, so just one word goes away. EACH graduate deletes one word, now that could be a real problem.

delete the word, what was it called from the what was it called?