Home > Musings > Sheep are “bleating idiots”

Sheep are “bleating idiots”

An incident in The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris caught my fancy.  In 1883, Roosevelt had a minor land use dispute with another rancher, who had stocked the land with 12,000 sheep.

Like most Americans, Roosevelt had a profound contempt for sheep.  Not only did the “bleating idiots” nibble the grass so short that they starved out cattle, they were, intellectually speaking, about the lowest level of brute creation.  “No man can associate with sheep,” he snorted, “and retain his self-respect.” (pp. 276-7)

Although the incident was ultimately resolved sadly — the flock died over the harsh winter — the turn of phrase was witty.

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