The Mice once called a meeting to decide on a plan to free themselves of their enemy, the Cat. At least they wished to find some way of knowing when she was coming, so they might have time to run away. Indeed, something had to be done, for they lived in such constant fear of her claws that they hardly dared stir from their dens by night or day. Many plans were discussed, but none of them was thought good enough. At last a very young Mouse got up and said:”I have a plan that seems very simple, but I know it will be successful. All we have to do is to hang a bell about the Cat’s neck. When we hear the bell ringing we will know immediately that our enemy is coming.” All the Mice were much surprised that they had not thought of such a plan before. But in the midst of the rejoicing over their good fortune, an old Mouse arose and said:
“I will say that the plan of the young Mouse is very good. But let me ask one question: Who will bell the Cat?” It is one thing to say that something should be done, but quite a different matter to do it. –Aesop
Updating that old fable to the early part of the 21st Century:
And old journalist mouse sat in the back of the local mouse tavern, searching for the answer he knew was at the bottom of that glass. His editor-mouse wandered up to him. “What happened today?” squeaked out editor-mouse.
“Our Mouse-President held a press conference today, detailing his latest set of measures involving belling the cat. For 800 years, the learned councils of mice have met to find the answer to the problem of who will bell the cat. Though it sounds like a good idea, nobody has been willing to step forward and deal with the cat on a personal level, much less the cat lobby.”
“So what is the proposed solution this time?” squeaked editor mouse.
“It involves keeping a registry of cats, and preventing them from being around mice if they’ve ever had a thought about hurting one” said journalist-mouse. “They have to submit to all sorts of things, like background checks. A cat could simply be ACCUSED of having bad thoughts about mice, and would be prohibited from being around them.”
Around this time, yonder cat wandered into the mouse bar. “You can’t be in here, Cat!” squeaked both mice. “Don’t you know that king mouse has prohibited cats from being in direct contact with mice, unless they can prove they’ve never ever hurt a mouse?”
“But… I am a cat,” exclaimed Cat. “I am a free cat, with teeth AND fangs, and sharp claws. I need those things to defend myself from mice who vote to make themselves my master. I am my own master, aside from the fat man who opens the cans of food at my command.”
Editor-mouse would not hear of this outrage. “You just sit right there, Mr. Cat, and I’ll go and get our TOP-Mouse. He’ll come right by here and tell you just what’s what!!”
A few minutes later, editor mouse returned. “Where is journalist-mouse? He has to write down what Top-Mouse says”
Burping, Cat explained that journalist mouse failed to see how an argument to ban cats from being around mice might have an effect in the future if Top-Mouse decided journalist-mouse was writing something Top-Mouse didn’t like.
“I ate him,” burped Cat.