Call Me A Horse’s Ass; But I Don’t Like Arguing With Donkeys

J. Edward Les, MD
5 min readSep 26, 2021

Are doctors part of the Covid problem?

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

An old fable currently making the rounds on social media tells the tale of a donkey and a tiger arguing heatedly over the colour of the grass. The donkey stubbornly insists that the grass is blue, despite ample evidence — literally under his feet — to the contrary.

The frustrated tiger solicits the Lord of the Jungle — the lion — to settle the dispute; whereupon the lion promptly agrees with the donkey and punishes the tiger.

Stunned, the tiger asks the lion: “Your Majesty, why have you punished me? We both know the grass is green.”

To which the lion replied: “In fact, the grass is green. But this has nothing to do with the colour of the grass. Your punishment is because a brave and intelligent creature like you wasted your time arguing with a donkey.”

It’s a parable well-fitted to the present day as medical professionals labour in vain to convince deniers of the reality of Covid and to persuade anti-vaxxers of the safety and effectiveness of Covid vaccines.

“To argue with a person who has renounced reason,” said Thomas Paine, “is like administering medicine to the dead.” It doesn’t work; and for our efforts we’ve been rewarded — punished, rather — with hospitals and intensive care units stuffed to the gills with sick and dying Covid patients.

It’s time — as I pointed out in an essay on September 10 — that we stop being so foolish; time to stop talking, time to enforce immunity passports, time to stop letting the unvaccinated crowd out the care of the vaccinated. That essay drew broad agreement; although a few readers dubbed me a horse’s ass, among other (more pungent) descriptors.

We’ve learned a lot about this nasty virus in the past 21 months. Some things we know for sure. But much of the Covid “grass” remains out of focus, and we have little certainty as to its colour.

Yet too often we’re guilty of professing certainty when certainty isn’t warranted; of not being…

J. Edward Les, MD

Pediatric emergency physician. Former veterinarian. Father. Writer. Cancer survivor.