Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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10,000 Gold Ducats: A Parable



There was once a kingdom in which certain people decided that amputation was immoral.

The gods made us to have two arms and two legs, ten fingers and ten toes, they said. Amputations should be made illegal!

No one wants to have an amputation, said others, but sometimes they become medically necessary.

When amputation is made criminal, only criminals will have amputations! cried the anti-amputation crowd.

But accidents happen; some people will die if they don't have amputations, the others pointed out.

Criminalize amputation! The gods will it! replied the Whole-Bodiers.

But surely, when an amputation is needed, each individual should have the right to decide for herself whether or not she wants one, said the Pro-Deciders.

Your bodies are not your own! replied the others. We have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do with your own body! The gods have given us this right!

No they didn't, said some. Your gods are not our gods, said others; but no one was listening.

Backed by powerful political and business interests, the Whole-Body movement—a small minority in the kingdom—nonetheless passed stringent laws against amputation, imprisoning amputees and doctors who performed amputations.

They even encouraged neighbors to spy on one another, and to report secret amputees; and to each such informer, they promised to pay 10,000 gold ducats.

But unto all those unfortunate enough to require an amputation: woe, woe, and woe.




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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


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