by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Most are familiar with the “William Tell Overture,” be it from the symphony or sporting events, Bugs Bunny or “The Princess Bride,” but less might remember the legend. That’s not shocking, as it’s about 700 years old now; but its relevance endures. …
… [I]n the cruel scenes that begin the legend, we might sense a familiar scene: A petty tyrant addicted to power and enacting arbitrary and capricious rules; common sense dispensed with, replaced with a sometimes self-destructive drive to maintain control through daily shame — even at the cost undercutting the original authority itself.
The bailiff’s ruthless crushing of dissent, which was unmoved by Tell’s completely understandable protectiveness of his child, also sounds familiar amid story after story of local school board fights, silenced microphones, threatened jobs, and struggling businesses closed by local magistrates.
There’s a reason the legend of William Tell has lived in our imaginations for 700 years: Every generation lives this story to one degree or another, and the concepts and ideals it illustrates don’t die with its characters.
Tell’s is a story more steeped in violence than the one we’re living today, thank goodness. The tyrant of his tale is quicker to capital punishment than the our modern leaders, but his methods are the same: He uses the child as a victim and pawn, and he silences the parent. His vindictiveness overwhelms even his own self-interest. He displays a willingness to wield all his authority and resources against even a single subject who questions even his stupidest rule.
Have you tried explaining how your child shouldn’t need to wear a mask in school lately? Or that teachers and other government employees should come back to work like the rest of us did long ago? Good luck. “Put on the mask. Bow to the hat. Or face your punishment.”