Excerpted from: The Thirty-Six Strategies of Ancient China, Stefan Verstappen,
Qin Dynasty China, 221 to 206 BC
The notorious eunuch Zhao Gao is credited with helping to bring down the house of Qin, ending China’s first and shortest imperial dynasty.
After the first emperor died, Zhao Gao conspired with the chief minister Li Si to dispose of the legitimate heir to the throne and install a weak and corrupt puppet emperor, Huhei.
Having established his influence over the young emperor, Zhao Gao was nervous about possible opposition from the other ministers of state. So he devised a test to see which ones would be faithful to him. One day he brought a stag into the court and presented it to the emperor explaining that it was a horse.
“You’re mistaken, Prime Minister,” said the emperor.” You’ve called a stag a horse.”
Zhao Gao turned to the other ministers present and asked them whether it was a horse or a stag. Some kept silent. Others, in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with the true power behind the throne, agreed it was a horse. And still others said it was a stag. The emperor was under Zhao Gao’s control to such a degree that he believed he was going insane and that the stag really was a horse.
Meanwhile, one of Zhao Gao’s spies was recording the answers given by each of the ministers. Afterwards, Zhao Gao secretly framed charges against all those who had said it was a stag and had them executed.
Notes: This historical anecdote epitomizes political correctness in the modern age. One must pretend to believe unreality in order to appease the psychopaths in power. Those that don’t go along are persecuted and eventually executed. The spy reporting who answered ‘correctly’ is the internet. Your likes, and posts, and bad attitude have been noted.