Millions no doubt have read or heard the Hans Christian Andersen tale of how some alleged weavers of long ago convinced their emperor that the new clothes they were selling him were made of such fine and rare material that only the stupid and incompetent could fail to see the exquisite threads. The emperor, not wishing to be exposed as either stupid or incompetent, bought the story and the invisible “clothes.” He wore nothing else as he went though the streets in a grand parade, hearing nothing but praise from his subjects on the excellence of his royal attire. Until one simple, unschooled child broke the spell by crying out the simple, unadorned truth: The emperor was wearing no clothes at all.
We are left to imagine what might have followed. Was the politically incorrect brat beheaded for that unseemly outbreak of candor? Placed in a dungeon? Enrolled in one of the emperor’s schools to be reeducated, with a mind more attuned to the political “realities”? And what of the conniving “weavers”? Were they suitably punished for deceiving the emperor and his subjects with false “intelligence” on the nature of the fabric that went into the making of the magnificent new clothes? Or did they receive the emperor’s Medal of Freedom and go off to write books and appear as experts at symposiums on royal apparel?
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