Once upon a time there was a King who loved to dress in the finest clothes. One day, two strangers came to his court. They explained that they were tailors, who made clothes so fine, that only the wise can see them. They proceeded to open their bags, reach inside and pull their hands out and flourish them over their arms. “Have you ever seen such fine materials?” they asked. The king was shocked that he could not see anything, but he quickly recovered. He did not want to appear foolish, so he exclaimed “Truly these are the finest clothes I have ever seen!”
In no time at all, the tailors measured the King, and settled into the apartments he provided for them so they could make him a number of fine sets of clothes. They regularly appeared before the King to ask his opinion of spools of thread and bolts of cloth,. As the King could not see any of them, he found it hard to decide. However, not wanting to be a King who did not know his own mind, he would consider for a few minutes, making vague comments about the merits of each option, and then make a firm choice completely at random. The King’s attendants, who did not want to seem foolish, all assured him that he had excellent taste, though secretly none of them could see the materials either.
After several weeks, the King’s new clothes were ready. By this time, word had spread throughout the kingdom, that the King had procured the most wondrous clothes anyone had ever seen; clothes so fine that only the wise could see them. People lined the streets in expectation of seeing the King appear publicly in his new clothes. The tailors assisted the King to dress. The King felt very nervous. Not only could he not see his new clothes, he couldn’t feel them either. But the tailors, and the attendants all exclaimed how majestic he looked.
Finally the King’s procession left the castle and made it’s way through the streets. People cheered and clapped. After all, no-one wanted to be thought foolish. The King stood on a podium and called for the tailors to be brought so they could be thanked. But the tailors, and all the gold the King had paid them, could not be found anywhere.
Just then, a stranger arrived from outside the kingdom. When it was explained to him what was going on, he very graciously and gently explained to the King and the people that they had been deceived.
But the King became angry. He declared that the stranger was simply too foolish to see his fantastic clothes. His attendants stripped the man of his possessions to compensate the King for the distress the stranger had caused. The King ordered he be detained for re-education. But still the stranger refused to acknowledge that the King was clothed. Under public pressure, the King imprisoned the stranger to protect children from his dangerous influence.