【明報專訊】This is a twenty first century version of a familiar fable. An old man and his son got a Tesla and no longer needed their donkey, so they decided to bring it to a nearby farm. The donkey, who was looking forward to early retirement, took a selfie and posted it on social media with the caption, 'last goodbye!' The three then set off for the donkey's future home in high spirits.
An animal rights activist spotted the donkey's photo online and immediately interpreted it as a call for help. She immediately alerted all likeminded activists in the area with the message, 'doomed donkey driven to despair, desperately needs rescue!'
Within minutes, this was picked up by journalists, police, firemen, religious groups, political parties of all colours, and interested individuals who remain unidentified. Meanwhile, the trio were ambling along, enjoying the fine weather, unaware that they were about to become the focus of a media frenzy (炒作). As this swarm drew near, the people started pointing, shouting and shooting photos. This astonished the old man, his son and the donkey; however, they thought it best just to ignore these unruly (難駕馭的) strangers and walk on. Unfortunately, this was not an option.
"Why are you sending this poor beast to certain doom?" demanded the reporters, thrusting mikes in the old man's face. He replied, "I've no idea what you're talking about!"
"Don't try to deny it!" screamed some youngsters wearing T-shirts with the slogan, FREE THE ANIMALS. "We know what you're up to and we're here to stop you!" and they began throwing eggs and tomatoes. SPLAT! The old man, his son, even the donkey got hit. They wanted to ask what was going on but were too busy dodging (躲避) missiles.
At this point, the police arrived and began calling for calm, resulting in everyone yelling even more loudly. As usual, arguments and scuffles broke out. Hopelessly outnumbered and bombarded with wild accusations (指控), the old man, his son and the donkey tried to make a dash for freedom. "Once we're over that small wooden bridge, we'll be at the gates of the farm and safe from this mob," they thought.
They ran and ran and the angry crowd ran after them. All the people were jostling and pushing as they were crossing the bridge. CRACK! The old bridge gave way beneath the weight and everyone fell into the river.
■Some useful vocabulary
I __________ it's true.
Insert the following words into the blank. How does the meaning change?
think, know, believe, am sure, am satisfied, say, feel, assume, presume, suspect, conclude