The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Posted by Tim Ireland at July 20, 2005

Category: The War on Stupid

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, July 20th, 2005
10:09 am and is filed
under The War on Stupid.

Let me try to explain this in a way that is so simple that even Stephen Pollard has a hope of understanding it…

There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, “Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!”

The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

“Don’t cry ‘wolf’, shepherd boy,” said the villagers, “when there’s no wolf!”

From here the story looked liked it would end quite badly for the shepherd boy, and he certainly would have come to a sticky end were it not for a sudden stroke of genius.

He looked to his sheep, and then to the flock of villagers, who had come running so readily to his aid. He considered the crook in his hand, and the power he wielded with it. He then held that crook aloft and pointed his finger at the nearest villager.

“Are you seriously questioning the existence of wolves?” he cried.

“But there are no wolves h…” began the villager.

“You see? You see? He said it himself! This man would have you think that wolves simply do not exist! Surely you all recall that wolves once attacked a nearby village!”

Indeed they did. There was a sudden murmuring in the crowd.

“Innocent blood was spilled that day. Such horrendous attacks by these… these *animals* must not happen again.”

The crowd murmured once more as they looked fearfully toward dark forest nearby. The shepherd boy took this as his cue.

“In that forest, they plot and plan our demise and they will not be happy until we are all dead,” and here, again, he cast an accusing finger at the nearest villager, and raised his voice to say, “and yet here you are denying that they exist at all! Perhaps you are in league with the wolves?”

The crowd suddenly turned on the villager, who ran in fright.

“You see?!” cried the shepherd boy, “The enemy walks among us!”

And from that moment on, the shepherd boy found himself in charge of a much larger flock. He found that he could cry ‘wolf’ as often as he liked, and the villagers would always come running. He also discovered that – when he lost the occasional sheep through his own negligence – he could cry ‘wolf’ again to divert attention away from the loss or even blame the loss on the wolves.

Before too long, he had convinced the villagers that an even greater danger lay beyond the dark woods.

Another village on the far side was run by a chief who ruled with an iron hand. He loved to terrorise his own people, and he wore the cloak of a wolf to instil fear in the hearts of his enemies.

The shepherd boy spoke eloquently of the sheer evil required to do such a thing.

Eventually he convinced his willing flock to attack that village. There was great bloodshed, but everyone agreed that it was a price worth paying to rid the world of the growing wolf threat, and the shepherd boy was awarded a great bounty.

Now, it is common knowledge that wolves can sense weakness in their prey, and they soon set upon the second village and feasted upon the dead and dying.

In time, they grew in number, and grew bolder in their approach.

By the following summer, the wolves had come beyond the fields for the first time in living memory and attacked the shepherd boy’s village. There was much crying and weeping and gnashing of teeth.

But nobody blamed the shepherd boy. They all considered the attack on the village on the far side of the dark woods to be a grand and necessary venture. They were convinced that the attack had to proceed in order to defeat the wolves – and to withdraw their soldiers now would surely make the wolves even bolder.

Sadly, they were all too correct on that second point.

The shepherd boy had created an even greater danger, and he knew it.

He also knew that the only way he could escape the wrath of the villagers would be to continue as before. He cast his eyes on the horizon and wondered how long he should wait before crying ‘wolf’ yet again… and, indeed, if he would even have to bother crying ‘wolf’ at all.


  1. Scaryduck says

    Tim – this is excellent and deserves a far wider readership.

  2. Backword Dave says

    Brilliant. But really, if saying “You fat fucker” doesn’t get through, what chance has a fable?

  3. Garry says

    At the risk of merely adding another superlative, this is outstanding stuff.

  4. Indigo Jo Blogs says

    Explainers, not popes

    The British right-wing press’s campaign of vilification against Islam continues today, with no less than three hostile articles by three of the usual suspects: Anne McElroy, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Amir Taheri. The last gets a two-page spread …

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