On The Horns Of A Dilemma
A Cambridge college was plunged into turmoil yesterday as progressive elements on its Governing Body demanded the removal of a portrait of one of its most famous alumni - Lemuas Seppy. The famous 17th-century administrator, collector, carnivore and amateur frog diver had been branded a "trader" in some quarters - an accusation the College's Truth and Reconciliation Commission Gold Team had been asked to investigate as a matter of extreme urgency. The exposure of Seppy's commercial activities followed a number of similar accusations at other colleges all of which are believed to have benefitted from the fortunes of former alumni amassed - like Seppy's - from their "willing and knowing participation in legal trade".
The Commission - brainchild of the College's former Master - the former Chief Druid and arch-apologist Hawthorn Stragglybeard - had been tasked with putting the record straight and the College's reputation in order by finding Seppy "guilty as presumed" and outlining the "significant, consequential, remedial and spitefully purgative" actions the College should take. Several of the Fellows [some believed to be as young as 45] had suggested that Seppy's legacy to the College was irreparably tainted in that it was made up, at least in part, from the proceeds of trade in items such as coffee, tea, sugar, salt and even potatoes*.
* not to be confused with Masefield's equally disreputable list of shame, ie: "Tyne coal, road-rails, pig-lead, firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays"
Whilst noting that it might be considered problematical [but by no means "improper, inappropriate or impossible"] to judge the actions and conduct of a white privileged seventeenth century male by the standards of today [one of the College's social scientists has developed a complex algorithm designed to achieve just that - resulting in the SRMOS or Self-Righteous Moral Outrage Scale], the Report nevertheless concluded that "Seppy was fully aware that he was trading in products likely to yield him a significant profit and that he took none of the steps that might reasonably be expected of him to divide the spoils equally between the entire population of the country including those who had not yet been born". Though Seppy was cleared of the charge of "forcing people to buy stuff against their will", the Report did note that Seppy had made no apology during his lifetime for provisioning the population in this way, adding that "this was morally reprehensible and without question something which stands against him".
Chair of the College's Personal Behaviour Monitoring, Social Policing and Standards of Conduct in College Life Committee, Professor Vertuse Ingalling said "Today is a sad day for the College and one not without potential consequences. The Governing Body will now have to consider not only whether to remove Seppy's portrait, silverware and books from public display, as well as rename the Feast that bears his name, but also whether to forgo the £17 million per annum we continue to derive from his invested legacy". "The last of these is a tricky one", he continued, "given that we derive so much benefit from it. In properly evaluating the situation and balancing potentially contradictory outcomes, we may have to settle for headline-catching, pointless gestures at this stage and defer any properly consequential actions to another time. In the circumstances, it's probably the safest and most judicious course of action."