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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why you can't always trust what "they" say about dwarfs and trolls*

People were streaming past the Watch House. [Corporal] Carrot [of the Night Watch] stopped a couple by the simple expedient of sticking out his hand.
'Mr Poppley, isn't it?" he said. "How's the grocery business? Hello, Mrs Poppley."
"Ain't you heard?" said the flustered man. "The trolls have set fire to the Palace!"
He followed Carrot's gaze up Broad Way, to where the Palace stood squat and dark in the early evening light. Ungovernable flames failed to billow from every window.
"My word," said Carrot.
"And there's dwarfs breaking windows and everything!" said the grocer.... "I'm off! I'm not stopping to see Mrs Poppley ravished by the little devils! You know what they say about dwarfs!'
The Watch watched the couple head off into the crowd again.
"Well, I don't," said [Night Watchdwarf Watchman Lance-Constable] Cuddy, to no-one in particular. "What is it they say about dwarfs?"
Carrot fielded a man pushing a barrow.
'Would you mind telling me what's going on, sir?' he said.
"And do you know what it is they say about dwarfs?' said a voice behind him....
'They say...' Dibbler [a roaming merchant of questionable foodstuffs, like sausages] began....
'Who says?' said Carrot.
'They say,' said Dibbler. 'You know. They. Everyone. They say the trolls have killed someone up at Dolly Sisters and the dwarfs have smashed up Chalky the troll's all-night pottery and they've broken down the Brass Bridge and--"
Carrot looked up the road.
"You just came over the Brass Bridge," he said.
"Yeah, well... that's what they say," said Dibbler.
"Oh, I see." Carrot straightened up.
"Did they happen to say... sort of, in passing... anything else about dwarfs?" said Cuddy.
-Terry Pratchett, Men At Arms

As much as I would like to get certain previously mentioned dictionaries to change their inaccurate (and illogical) definitions of "fundamentalism", the realistic part of me realizes the likely futility of such a campaign.  In wrapping up this series, I intend to reveal another, more important purpose.  However clich├ęd the following question is danger of becoming, it still accurately reflects my sentiments: "So you think that you know me?"- simply by my self-identification as a fundamentalist.  Usually it's the more controversial segments of fundamentalism that garner the most media attention because that's what sells papers.  Thus, while it's somewhat understandable that some err in believing that fundamentalism is as monolithic as the coverage makes it appear, it's still a mistake.  The reality is that they no more necessarily speak for me than Madalyn Murray O'Hair necessarily speaks for all atheists.  True, in both cases there's often a great deal of overlap concerning basic beliefs, but beyond those basics, there are those for whom the differences outweigh the similarities.  In other words, there are a wide variety of subjects on which my views differ from theirs.  One would do well to ask me whether I agree with them on a particular subject beyond the fundamentals .that I've previously listed instead of assuming that that all fundamentalists accept their self- (and, to a certain extent, media-) proclaimed status as spokespeople for them.

* (and fundamentalists, as well)

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