And the deity begged the man to die lest people make fun of him

From Paul Radin’s Primitive Man as Philosopher – an anecdote on the horror of ridicule in primitive societies (and Radin, writing in the early decades of the 20th century, very much worked to give ‘primitive’ its share of dignity and complexity so the terminology may now be outdated but the author’s intention is not)

Even the deities are not exempt from this horror of ridicule. Among the Winnebago there exists a delightful story of a man who dared to state that he disbelieved in the powers of the most terrifying and holiest of the Winnebago deities, and who in public expressed his contempt for him. A short time later, the deity in question appeared to the skeptic and pointed his finger at him, an action that was supposed to bring immediate death. The man stood his ground and did not budge and the deity – Disease-Giver was his name – begged the man to die lest people make fun of him!

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