Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sacrificial Lambs

It's come to me this morning that any large institution will have its built-in buffers to thwart the various degrees of reprimand (internal or external) by throwing responsibility (blame) on a sacrificial lamb. The sacrificial lamb is usually someone with no advanced knowledge of the position they've been hired for, a fair amount of intelligence but an even greater amount of trust. The trust is awarded to a supervisor or other person in the ether of a hierarchy who directs the movement of the lamb, either to slaughter or redemption. Slaughter can be a slow death which causes the lamb to remove itself from the unpleasant environment or a quick termination. Redemption is a sacrificial lamb post at an even higher level of responsibility. The Person in Control can have any number of lambs for sacrifice, embedded in the various notches of an institutional structure and available for sacrifice when needed. The sacrifice of the lamb preserves the reputation and the position of the Person in Control.


Lyle Daggett said...

"By day there are academies of silence.
At night we hear the hungry
bleating of carnivorous lambs."

Your post brought the above to mind, a few lines from a poem by Richard Shelton. The lines have stuck with me, though by now I don't remember the title of the poem offhand. I found it in his Selected Poems published by U. of Pittsburgh Press sometime in (I think) the 1980's. Eventually I used the lines as an epigraph at the beginning of one of my own poems.

Ann said...

Hi Lyle - and how are you?
"carnivorous lambs" - that's something I need to think about - maybe I need to look up the entire poem. How did you use it with your poem?

Lyle Daggett said...

Ann, I titled the poem "academies of silence" (a phrase from the Richard Shelton lines I quoted). The poem is too long to give here in its entirety -- it was more or less about the congressional hearings in the late 1980's in which Lt. Col. Oliver North tried to convince America that he was as clean as Beaver Cleaver. A carnivorous lamb if there ever was one.

Ann said...

oh - Ollie North - now that makes it clear. Duplicity of the highest order.