Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A Blame Duck

One of our occasional lodgers - Alfmund - stayed with us over the weekend. He's a seasoned traveller who often regales us with stories he's heard in the course of his wanderings. This time he told us that a female politician in Ultima Thule was seriously injured - and several other people were killed - by a deranged young man with a crossbow a few days ago. Understandably, this terrible event has caused a great deal of unhappiness and soul-searching in Ultima Thule, and as ever, the soothsayers are having a field day; they scarcely witter about anything else. The young man responsible for this atrocity was siezed by the local costumed thugs, and is now languishing in jail, awaiting the next session of their Moot.

What's also significant about this development is the fact that the political faction to which the injured young politician belongs is laying the blame for this unhappy incident at the feet of a rival faction. This comes in the context of fierce political rivalries, which regularly find expression in hastily chosen words and angry exchanges in (and outside of) their Witangemot. It's all part of the showbiz of Witangemot politics. The roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd.

According to Alfmund's account, the young man responsible for this violence was a strange and disturbed soul, who on a previous occasion had asked the lady politician some rather bizarre questions. Perhaps he'd been chewing the magic mushrooms and drinking mead at the same time - but we're not sure about the cause of his insanity - or whether it's temporary or not.

Nevertheless, the politicians in the faction accused of provoking this incident are understandably angry at this unjust accusation - especially since the young fruitcake had no political or ideological affiliation with their particular cause. The accusing party have evidently run out of intellectual road. They deserve a lot of pity. There should be special care homes for them, poor dears. I'll have a word with Caedmon about this and see what he thinks.

It seems to be an unfailing trait of human nature to look for someone to blame. When Caedmon told me about the biblical account of the Fall in the Book of Genesis, he told me that when Adam was discovered by God to have disobeyed the one commandment given, Adam promptly blamed his wife Eve. She'd passed the forbidden fruit to him. It was therefore her fault. Eve in turn blamed the serpent who'd given her the idea in the first place. It was his fault. Neither of them actually put up their hands and said "It's a fair cop. My fault." Nuff said.

So. Somebody or something is to blame for this outrage. Let's look for someone, shall we? Where shall we start? Let's blame the crossbow manufacturer. If crossbows didn't exist, people wouldn't be injured or killed by them. We should ban them. Let's pass a law. The crossbow lobby would be up in arms about that.

But hang on a minute: crossbows are made of wood. If wood didn't exist, crossbows and bolts couldn't be made. It's the trees' fault. We must ban trees. Let's pass a law. The mucous-sleeved urban tree huggers would be up in arms about that.

This is getting silly. Let's blame global climate change, the Holy Roman Empire (which is neither holy, Roman nor an empire) and the parents. Oh - and the Witangemot.

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