"Today is opposite day," said the Bully, "yes means no and no means yes. Now, do you want me to hit you?"
"That statement is inherently contradictory,"
"It’s an interesting point you make,
"Again, there’s an error in your logic,
"I think I said it the other way around, but go on."
"Well, that statement then becomes the contradiction. You say that ‘yes means no,’ but, since it is opposite day by the time you make that statement, what you are actually saying is that ‘yes means yes,’ which, given the fact that it is opposite day and yes in actuality means no, is---"
"I see where you’re going with this, but I’m afraid you’re in error. You see, the statement ‘yes means no and no means yes,’ is simply a clarification of the previous statement. It is, in fact, an adjunct to the statement ‘today is opposite day.’ Therefore, since ‘yes means no and no means yes’ is a part of the declaration of opposite day, it is subject to the same exemption from ‘oppositing,’ if you will, as the original statement."
"Yes," said the Bully.
"By that reasoning, then, the question ‘do you want me to hit you?’ does fall in the time period you have described as opposite day."
"Yes," said the Bully, "but, being a question, I’m not sure that it is subject to the same process of ‘oppositing’ that an empirical statement is."
The Bully shook his head. "But can you really say that the question ‘do you want me NOT to hit you?’ is the opposite of the question ‘do you want me to hit you?’ It’s true that one query in the negative and the other is in the positive, but it seems to me that they ultimately ask the same question. In fact, I could combine the two to form the resulting uber-question ‘do you want me to hit you or not?’ which removes the issue altogether. In fact, that restatement of the question eliminates your ability to provide a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, since neither would adequately address the question as stated. No, instead your answer would have to be more specific. In fact, it would be in your best interests for it to be so, because that specificity would eliminate the ambiguity of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response and circumvent the problem you just brought up."
The Bully smiled.
"Not at all," the Bully said. "It is simply this; do you want me to hit you?"