A king once ordered a messenger to deliver a sealed envelope to another king. The messenger set off on the dangerous journey and he was never tempted to open the envelope and read the message within. After months of hard travelling, he finally reached the palace of the second king, who opened the envelope in front of him and read the letter with a frown that grew deeper and deeper. Finally he reached for a loaded blunderbuss and pointed it at the messenger’s head.

“Clearly you have received some bad news,” said the messenger, “but I’m not responsible for what has happened, so don’t shoot the messenger! I simply completed my given task.”

Silently, but with a grim expression, the king handed the letter to the messenger, who began sweating as he read it. The message said simply, “Please shoot the messenger who delivers this to you.” The king pulled the trigger of the gun and it went off.

¶ Go on, shoot the messenger!