If you’re a fan of Monty Python or British humour you are likely familiar with two of the most famous sketches from the television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus: the dead parrot and the cheese shop, both featuring the same character, Mr. Praline.

In the dead parrot sketch, a man enters a pet store, after purchasing a parrot, with one complaint— it’s dead. The man who sold him the bird then argues with him that the “Norwegian blue” is merely “resting.”  The angered buyer then argues that the bird is undoubtedly dead, and it appeared alive at the time of purchase because it was “nailed” to the perch. After this, the owner continues to make silly arguments, in favor of the parrot being alive, and then sends the man away— supposedly to visit his brother’s shop.

The second named sketch the same man enters a cheese shop. He, obviously eloquent and intellectual, requests various kinds of cheese. His requests are repeatedly met with the owner’s claims that they don’t have any.

The matter at hand is what I think is a common occurrence with lovers of liberty (whether conservative, libertarian, or those going under some other moniker) in their discussions and interactions with liberals and moderates. However, it is not these debates and discussions that are the main focus.

A question I imagine many of us ask is “Do they simply ‘not get it,’ or do not wish to ‘get it.’” The Monty Python sketches serve to illustrate this problem. Mr. Praline, is clearly knowledgeable and on the side of logic. In opposition we have the owners of the cheese shop and pet shop. It cannot be determined if they truly do believe what they say, or if this is their only argument.

For those who only “do not get it” there may be several possible reasons. One factor may be education. Consider the fact that the vast majority of American youth are “educated” in government schools. As a result of this, erroneous ideas and lies, among other things, have been spread through several generations of Americans. Adding into this is the matter of the media and large sections of public intellectuals that profess and spew liberal doctrines, often under the camoflauge of unbiased “news” and “reporting.” None of this includes the covert liberal indoctrination at many universities and colleges. Thus, with these factors being the cause, many argue that the parrot really is alive.

Secondly, there may be those who simply do not wish to hear “the truth.” Again, no political philosophy is perfect, but time and again the doctrines of liberty and the free market have been shown to work.

Examples of Mr. Praline’s problem abound. This is especially true in election season, when the misled are even more galvanized. Take the claim that Barack Obama has spent less money that his predecessors. A graph showing this was widely circulated on Facebook. The origin of this story came from Rick Ungar, a writer for Forbes. The Heritage Foundation affirms, though,  the truth, in regards to Obama’s spending. Several other similar examples are the idea that Barack Obama’s foreign policy has made our nation less involved in the world (even though the War on Terror persists, there was a military intervention in Libya, and troops have been sent to Africa) or that the economic policies of the Obama administration have “improved” the economy. On economic matters, the idea that the President’s policies have helped the economy is utterly false. In contrast, the policies of the Federal Reserve (by tampering with interest rates) setting up the nation for an economic collapse.

Why are there so many people that are, figuratively, the pet or cheese shop owner? Philosophically, I cannot determine the reasoning behind much of this human action. In exploring this initial inquiry, one finds oneself at the beginning of the entire question— is this deliberate or no?

But, as I see it, one may trace this back to the initial thinkers and originators of these doctrines and ideas. Did Marx believe that he was right, or was it all a smokescreen to increase his own power? Again, this is a matter that one may speculate greatly on. My own answer, tinged with healthy doubt, is that Marx did believe in his own theories and ideas. Take someone in a position of power— Hitler, for example. Did he believe in his own doctrines of racism and despotism, or was it entirely a front to increase his own power? This may be speculated on to a much greater degree than Marx, owing to that Hitler likely had mental problems Marx did not possess (though Marx was by no means a person to emulate).

One cannot know, with certainty, the intentions behind all forms of despotism, but I speculate that it came from one or both of these points: good intentions and a wish to “improve” the world, or an intentional desire to usurp power (for whatever reasons). The policies opposite of liberty and the free market always lead into slavery, destruction, collapse, and death.

As we referenced Monty Python in the beginning, perhaps it is fitting that we reference them now. The character Mr. Praline appeared in a number of Python sketches, but there is another notable, and suitable, one— the fish license sketch. In it, Mr. Praline tries to procure a fish license for his “pet fish, Eric.” After much arguing and presenting of facts, it looks as though he will not receive his license. In the end, though, an official enters, and ceremoniously gives him the license. Strip away the absurdism and humor, and one finds that Mr. Praline triumphs. We must remember that this too is the ultimate end for our cause. In the end, freedom is always victorious. Some times, this happens through the eventual collapse of tyrrany and despotism.


Christian Lopac
| Wabash College | @CLopac