At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


One of my favourite scenes in the movie 'Monty Python And The Holy Grail' (which you should see instead of 'The Da Vinci Code' - it's a far better movie), is the inductive reasoning scene played out between Sir Bedevere, a rabble of unwashed illiterate suburbani...., errrm, I mean 'peasants', and Arthur, King of the Britons.

The rabble is seen outside Sir Bedevere's hovel, pummeling a woman with a witch hat and a patently false shnozz, while yelling.

Villagers: A witch! A witch! A witch!
We've found a witch! A witch! A witch! We've have a witch! A witch! A witch! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! A witch!

One of the peasantim speaks: We have found a witch. May we burn her?
The crowd yells: Burn her! Burn! Burn her! Burn her!
Sir Bedevere: How do you know she is a witch?

A peasant: She looks like one!
Roars of assent from the crowd: Right! Yeah! Yeah! A witch!
Sir Bedevere: Bring her forward.
Witch: I'm not a witch! I'm not a witch!
Sir Bedevere: But you are dressed as one.

Witch: They dressed me up like this.

Rabble: Naa, we didn't! We didn't!
[Mumblings of denial, shifty looks.]

Witch: And this isn't my nose. It's a false one.

Sir Bedevere: Well?
Villager: Well, we did do the nose.
Sir Bedevere: The nose?
Villager: And the hat....., but she IS a witch!
Other villagers: Yeah! We burn her! Right! Yeaaah! Yeaah! Burn her!
Sir Bedevere: Did you dress her up like this?

Villager: No!
Other villagers: No. No.
More villagers, back and forth: No. No. No.
First villager: Yes.
Other villagers: Yes.
More villagers, back and forth: Yeh. Yeah, a bit. Just a bit, yeh.
First villager: She HAS got a wart.....
Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she is a witch?
Tall villager: She turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Tall villager: I got better.....
Other villager: Burn her anyway!
All the villagers: Burn her! Burn! Burn her!
Sir Bedevere: Quiet, quiet, quiet! Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
First villager: Are there?
[The villagers look baffled.]

First villager: What are they?
All the villagers: Tell us! Tell us!

Other villager: Do they hurt?

Sir Bedevere: Tell me, what do you do with witches?

Villagers: Burn! Burn! Burn! Burn!
Sir Bedevere: And what do you burn apart from witches?

First villager: More witches!
Other villager: Wood!
Sir Bedevere: So why do witches burn?

[Long pause while the crowd thinks.]
Villager: be... cause they're made of... wood?
Sir Bedevere: Good!
Villagers: Oh, yeah. Oh. Right.

Sir Bedevere: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
Villager: Build a bridge out of her!
Sir Bedevere: Ah, but can you not ALSO make bridges out of stone?
Villager: Oh...., yeah.
Villagers: Oh, yeah. Right. Right, yeah. Errrm.

Sir Bedevere: Does wood sink in water?
Villagers: No. No. No, it floats! It floats!

Villager: Throw her into the pond!

Villagers: The pond! Throw her into the pond!
Sir Bedevere: What ALSO floats in water?
Villager: Bread!
Other villager: Apples!
First villager: Bananas!
Another villager: Very small rocks!
An altogether different villager: Grah..., gravy!

First villager: Cherries!
Other villager: Mud!
Another villager: Churches! Churches!
An altogether different villager: Lead! Lead!
King Arthur: A duck!
Villagers, admiringly: Oooh.
Sir Bedevere: Exactly. So, logically...
Villager: If... she... weighs... the same as a duck,... she's made of wood.
Sir Bedevere: And therefore?
Other villager: A witch! A witch!
All villagers: A witch! A witch!
Fourth villager: Here's a duck, use this duck.
[Duck quacks indignantly.]

Sir Bedevere: Very good. We shall use my largest scales.
Villagers: Oooh! Ah! Burn the witch! Burn the witch! Burn the witch! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Oooh!
Sir Bedevere: Right. Remove the supports!
[Thunk. Crack. Creak. The scales show that the weight on both sides is equivalent, and neither pan dips down.]
Villagers: A witch! A witch! A witch!
Witch: It's a fair cop.
Villagers: Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her! Burn her!
Sir Bedevere (to King Arthur): Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?
King Arthur: I am Arthur, King of the Britons.

--------- --------- ---------

No, I am not citing the above as a logical support for the monarchic system OR an argument in favour of mediaeval science, but rather to illuminate a comment I made on a Dovbearian posting ( in wich Dovbear ( countered the remark made in a Cross-Currents posting by Yitzhak Alderstan to the effect that Italians "were not particularly good at antisemitism" by saying "Italians weren't particularly good at anti-semitism? Good lord man. They practically invented it!!"'.

This is what I wrote in the comment-thread, in semi-response to some of the other commentors:

"Well yes, they 'invented it'.

But look at it this way, if there had been no Jews in Europe, Europeans would have had to invent them. There's something pathological about the need of many societies and cultures to target a group and scapegoat 'em.

Of course, that requires a differentiation. In mediaeval Europe there was not enough marked differentiation that they could pick on each other. That didn't really flower until the French and the Germans started whacking each other (and the Lombards invented loan-sharking and extortion).

Until then it was Jews, Gypsies, and wrinkled old women.

"...If she weighs the same as a duck, she's made of wood, and therefore... A Jew! Burn her, burn her!""

Surely you see the logic? Imagine Sir Bedevere instead asking "and WHO ELSE do you burn apart from witches?" The answer is "heretics, Frenchmen, and ..... Jews".

Of course, nowadays we burn flags instead. So, as the character played by John Cleese in the scene above said, we "got better".



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