Sacrificial lamb

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A sacrificial lamb is a metaphorical reference to a person or animal sacrificed (killed or discounted in some way) for the common good. The term is derived from the traditions of Abrahamic religion where a lamb is a highly valued possession.[1]

In politics[edit]

Main article: Paper candidate

In politics, a sacrificial lamb candidate is a candidate chosen to contest an election despite the fact that he or she has little chance of victory. The political party thus appoints the person as a sort of "sacrifice" to the stronger opponent.

In some cases, fielding a sacrificial lamb candidate can serve as an opportunity for the party to be more creative in choosing a candidate than would normally be considered acceptable in a closely contested race. For instance, Alan Keyes or Geraldine A. Ferraro. In 2004, Howard Mills was considered a sacrificial lamb candidate for the U.S. Senate from New York against Chuck Schumer.

In the arts[edit]

In cinema and literature, the term sacrificial lamb refers to a supporting character whose sole dramatic purpose is to die, thus galvanizing the protagonist to action and simultaneously demonstrating how evil the villain is. Very often, the sacrificial lamb is a family member, partner, or "old buddy" of the protagonist, with whom he or she has an assumed intimacy, thus requiring no real character development. The term is almost always used critically, with the implication that the character was used transparently as a plot device.

An example of this in early literature is Macaria in Heracleidae by Euripides. A more modern example is Anthony Edwards' character, "Goose", in Top Gun.

In husbandry[edit]

When escorting cattle across a river suspected of having piranhas, farmers will sometimes sacrifice a sick or injured cow downstream before letting the herd enter the water.[2]

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References[edit]