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Precedent - The Lead Goat of Mankind
Wednesday, June 4, 2008 • Posted June 4, 2008


I have been telling you for quite sometime that I had a goat story on the way, well here it is:


During the summer months of 1928 and 29 I visited with my sister on her husband’s ranch and learned to stay in the saddle all day while rounding up sheep and driving them into the stock pens in Cristoval where they were loaded into freight cars for shipment to market.

In working with sheep prior to these drives I learned the difficulty of trying to get a group of sheep through a gate and into a pen or corral. The sheep would get to the gate opening and then stand there and look in but they would not enter. No amount of yelling or cussing could get them to enter that gate and it was then, at the age of 17, that I came to the conclusion that sheep must be the most ignorant of all God's creatures.

I became further convinced of this fact as my efforts to coax those stupid bastards through that gate failed. Finally, one of them would be nudged by those behind until he would find himself just beyond the gate opening and was actually inside the pen. Then it was that this timid soul would feel so proud of himself he a would let out a big baa-aa, jump high into the air and run bravely into the center of the pen, thereby establishing himself as the leader of the flock.

Then what do you think happened? The universal law of precedent came into being and all of the sheep, acting just like people, eagerly followed their leader into the pen. It was in the loading of sheep into a railroad car that I first learned the use of a lead animal, which in many cases is a goat, sometimes called the “Judas goat.” Where it would have been next to impossible to drive those sheep into the cattle car this job was made easy by the use of a trained goat that would lead them up that narrow ramp and into the car.

Long after those early sheep herding days and after watching the actions of people for a decade or more I changed my earlier convictions and decided that perhaps we humans were, in many ways, more stupid than sheep. It was in those days that I came upon a poem about a crooked trail made by a calf as it wandered homeward through a forest and how men “prone to go it blind along the calf-paths of the mind,” for over three hundred years followed in the footsteps of that calf.

I found that people were just as reluctant as sheep to enter into something new until they too had a leader, a Judas goat, who encouraged them to follow and once they have found one they are inclined to follow him into hell or kingdom come.

Also during those passing years I learned that the most prevalent or universal of the “Judas goats” that people follow is PRECEDENT which is, in fact, an act serving as an example, reason, or justification for sheep or mankind to follow after......who? - what? - A lead goat?

Now there are “lead goats” in practically every line of enterprise or endeavor. The most prominent, I suspect, are those in the field of fashion where the architects (the lead goats of style) are the designers who establish or set the tone primarily for women’s clothing.

    **(In an earlier article I referred to these designers as “The Gods of Style” and established the fact that they could have women wearing sacks for dresses povided their lead goat (The God of Fashion) said they were fashionable and continued to wear them.) These designers also set the trend for men’s clothing, shoes and even men’s hats. Men’s hats!! Now this is where I have been trying to get to ever since I started this lead goat business. We have now reached my pet peeve - hats - and here I have reference to those cowboy type hats that men are so predisposed to wear while eating - and in other places where conventional behavior dictates that the hat be removed!

Hells fire, they even wear them when they are dancing. I have often asked this question “How or when did all of this rudeness, this lack of manners happen?” and I think perhaps I have found the answer.

It took a “lead goat” to get it started and I am supposing that it all began when one of our RICH and VERY popular western singers thought he looked better with his hat on so he began wearing it at all types of occasions, even to social affairs.

Now look what happens - he establishes a PRECEDENT and all of those sheep type men, in their haste to follow in the footsteps of that famous “lead goat”, forget about the social behavior they were taught in their youth and just like mankind in general they are hell bent on playing that universal game of “follow the leader”.And, just as that old poem says:

“They follow in the beaten track,

now out, now in, now forth, now back,

And still their devious course pursue,

to trod the paths that others do.”

That old poem taught me that mankind follows precedent just as a bunch of sheep will follow a lead goat, and from this teaching came the title of this article; “Precedent - the lead goat of mankind”

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