Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Robin Hood Revisited

Today marks the second anniversary of my first post on L3, The Curse of Coercive Recycling. In it I alluded that Robin Hood shouldn't be considered a standard of morality and today seems like an appropriate time to elaborate on that.

Robin Hood is on the surface a quality hero. His main nemesis is the Sheriff of Nottingham who taxes the people into poverty. Paired with his battles with Prince John, Robin Hood appears to be an archetype hero of liberty.

And on the whole I agree but I'm concerned when people sum up his actions as "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor," often confused with what he actually does: rob from the government and give to the poor. The mistaken mantra easily translates into an argument for progressive taxes and the equalization of wealth. Robin Hood becomes a sort of "medieval Che Guevara," as Wikipedia phrases it, not a defender of liberty.

Perhaps it is not Robin Hood that is the problem but the modern interpretation of him. But he is an icon and his character changes as culture molds it. I still think of this green-costumed bandit as a defender of liberty but sadly I doubt the general public feels the same way.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

"Rob from the government and give to the poor"? That's the way my father put it when I was little. Another way to look at it: Robin Hood as an agent for a rival government. The sheriff was an agent for the selfish Prince John, and Robin Hood was an agent for the irresponsible King Richard I. Doesn't seem so righteous now, does he?