The Two Sorts of Boys

There are two sorts of boys: those who cry wolf, and those who cry that the Emperor is naked.

The former raise all manner of false alarums for the sake of the attention they will garner. Their signals are empty, and vain; the virtue they signal a sham. They ruin the social function they were deputed to perform. And they end despised by all the people, ignored, and at last themselves eaten, devoured in the bewilderment visited upon them by the people in recompense of their falsity.

The latter speak the simple truths that no one had wanted to hear. They open people’s eyes to reality – not because they want anything for themselves, but because for whatever reason they are not afraid of what everyone else fears, or of the consequences to themselves of noticing it publicly. They are *very* impolite. They end beloved of all the people.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader, to sort our public figures into these two types.

8 thoughts on “The Two Sorts of Boys

  1. The value of being polite is a social convention. 🙂 I agree with it *most of the time*, but there are times when it must be ignored.

  2. Pingback: The Two Sorts of Boys | @the_arv

  3. The impoliteness of the second type is down largely to inexperience.That little boy had not yet learned what he could and could not say. The more likely result, in a world dominated by wolf-see-ers (or wolf seers) is that he would be thrown beyond the pale and consumed by wolves himself. In scoundrel times, vindication may have to wait for a better world.

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  5. I suspect in our age it is all too often backwards. The boys who cry wolf are invited as guest speakers on MSM because nothing is so valued today as stimulation, and fear is a plentiful source of just that. Those who publically point out the Emperor’s nakedness are torn to shreds.

    Another thing: I’ve always had this distinction in my mind between courtesy and politeness. Courtesy (as I define it) is done out of goodwill, good breeding, and an understanding that it really is effective at promoting good social relations. It is preferred because it works. It requires tact, intelligence, experience, and skill. Politeness is reactive and fearful. If you’re afraid of your neighbor you will always hold a secret grudge against him for causing you that fear, hence politeness is always attended by ill will. There is too much politeness in America, and too little courtesy.

  6. This is an interesting contrast, but the boy who cried wolf was not so loathsome as the Prog who called Russian. Harm and deception were incidental to the boy’s crying of wolf, but they were essential to the Prog’s crying of Russian. The boy was simply bored with watching his sheep, and thought to relieve his boredom with a little “drama.” Natural enough. A great deal of human life is “drama” manufactured to relieve boredom. The intent behind the invention of “drama” is not noble, but a ruse that aims to “liven things up” is, in a sense, benevolent. When those men in the village heard that cry of wolf, I suppose they set down their tools with a surge of joy in their hearts, because they had been to that moment just as bored as the boy. Volunteer firemen hate false alarms, but they do not hate fires.

    Adults like to imagine themselves as the boy who says the emperor has no clothes, but that role is not open to an adult. The boy observes that the emperor is naked because he does not claim to be tasteful, and so he is invulnerable to the tailors’ ruse. In fact, the boy doesn’t see clothes on the emperor because he doesn’t understand the tailors’ threat of social shame to those who cannot see the emperor’s new clothes. An adult who says the emperor has no clothes does so because he understands the tailor’s threat. He in a sense “sees” the “clothes” because he understands the how the tailors have brought the emperor and the city under their power. So being the boy who says the emperor has no clothes is not at all the same as being the man who tells the story of the boy who said the emperor has no clothes. The boy is innocent, the man who tells the story is cynical.

    • Brilliant, JM. The adult who cries wolf is peculiarly evil. The adult who cries the nakedness of the Emperor is peculiarly, extraordinarily, virtuous and courageous. The man who tells the story of the boy who cried the nakedness of the Emperor – such a man, i.e., as we at the Orthosphere – is cynical.


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