Posted by jlubans on January 18, 2013

“The pomegranate and the apple tree were debating about their beauty. They had both gone on at great length arguing back and forth when a bramble bush in a nearby hedge heard them and said, 'Dear friends, let us put a stop to our quarrel.' 
The fable shows that when there is a dispute among sophisticated people, then riff-raff also try to act important.”
Caption: Bramble bush blossoms.
Maybe the point (as expressed in the appended moral) is less about the ignoble bramble bush’s wanting to horn in, and more about the ramifications of stupid disputes among the “smart and beautiful people.” Aesop’s bramble bush – deemed un-beautiful because of its asymmetry – sees the ludicrousness of the discussion and joins in since the discussion puts the pomegranate and apple on the same plane as the unglamorous bramble bush.

Caption: Pomegranate fruit.
Similarly, if our “betters” engage in un-informed and heated political debate, might not those of us in the peanut gallery feel free to get uncivil and hurl a few rotten apples and spoiled pomegranates? As a regular reader of the Chronicle of Higher Education I occasionally scan the reader comments. At times I am tempted to add a dismissive response, especially to the most virulent (always anonymous) and flatly one-sided. What stops me from verbal assault? If I can’t sign my name, I won’t push the send button. That’s not a remedy for stupid debates but it keeps me, beneficially, from joining in.

*Source: Aesop's Fables. A new translation by Laura Gibbs. Oxford University Press (World's Classics): Oxford, 2002.

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