Shooting the Swiss Messenger
A small prank snowballs into a massive catastrophe, prankster blamed.


(permanent link) added: 2012-01-06 11:09:18 sponsor: RaustBD (last reply: 2012-01-13 12:14:53)

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The local petty troublemaker in town shoots a spitball into a bar, hitting a man on the back of the head. The man suspects the man next to him, and starts a fight with him, spilling a particularly flammable drink, dropping his cigarette, and setting the bar on fire. The fire spreads to the rest of the town with no hope of containment, and the terrified townsfolk are forced to flee their home, and watch from a neighboring hillside as it goes up in smoke, killing the residents of a local orphanage in the process. When the townsfolk get over their shock, they will inevitably glare at the troublemaker, who will then be severely punished, disowned, socially ostracized, or otherwise dealt comeuppance.

Nobody, oftentimes not even the troublemaker, will realize, much less point out, how outlandishly insane and unfair this reaction is.

If anybody could have predicted the consequences of that small prank, it would have been by luck, and yet since what he did was the tiniest pixel to the "evil" side of the sliding scale, everyone will treat the troublemaker like an arsonist, all because of circumstances entirely outside of his control. The troublemaker will never point this out, and if he did, he'd look like a prick, and that's assuming he even realizes this at all. Most of the time what he "did" will haunt him for the rest of his life.

When this happens, we have an instance of Shooting the Swiss Messenger; a tiny misdemeanor causes the offender to be held accountable for the absolutely ridiculous consequences that somehow arose from it.
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