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a caustic,pontificating polemic on the Wizard’s politics and character. She noticed that many of the listeners grew increasingly aloof with each passing minute. Some just stood there with bemused expressions, others with vacuous stares.

She tried to pay attention, but the verbose speech was so obfuscating that she couldn’t. Absorbing only bits and pieces, she heard him say:

“Most of you don’t remember, long ago, when our eponymous leader first came to us, but I do—a mercurial presence with an intractable point of view. Is there any among us who can vouch for this man’s rectitude? Why should we trust anyone with a sobriquet as ridiculously unlikely as Oz? At every turn he eschews publicity and spurns all who try to befriend him. From his exalted position, and under the guise of charity, he garners filthy lucre by exploiting the masses—with impunity! He kowtows to the gentry while sanctimoniously extolling an egalitarian ethos. There must be a parity between what this mercenary monarch gives and what he takes. The reason alms for the indigent are minuscule is the same as why government subsidies and endowments have been abrogated—it’s his propensity for greed and proneness to parsimony.

He purports to be a man of lofty ideals, a paradigm of effective leadership, but in truth he’s a pharisee. The beauty of this glittering City actually masks deep systemic problems that are largely unknown to the public. Do you think that government devoid of graft and collusion is a quixotic notion? I say it is not; I say corruption can be extirpated.

“You may be asking yourself, Why is this droning dissident haranguing us with this loquacious, vituperative invective?, and I tell you it’s because we’re all in danger—the man is evil incarnate. Now, you might think that opposing an omnipotent Wizard is fruitless—but remember, history has shown that when great numbers unite in their demand for change, they are a juggernaut. Join me now and you’ll stand in the vanguard of—and I’m not being hyperbolic—the greatest reform movement this land has ever known. Then, because increasing our numbers is paramount, we must go out and pertinaciously importune our friends and neighbors to join the insurrection.”

At this point a bearded, bespectacled college student in the crowd, worried that this subversive radical might foment serious trouble, interrupted the incendiary screed to shout, “Because Oz has never imposed an embargo on criticism, you’re really free to rail against his policies all you like; you have every right to your blasphemy. You can decry the state of the City with your scurrilous attacks and demagogic appeals. You can condemn the man with your grandiose fulminations and iconoclastic ravings. But I really think the public consensus of general opinion is that Oz’s virtue is unimpeachable and that nearly everyone would vehemently defend him. So since everything’s really pretty copacetic, why not give up this crazy, maverick campaign? It really isn’t fair of you to besmirch the name of our illustrious leader with your disparaging remarks and intemperate insults. Your inculpatory

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