Imagine a political leader who has taken his party through a radical transformation in the way in which Gerry Adams drew Sinn Fein into the Good Friday Agreement. And then imagine him standing before the massed ranks of his party and the IRA and contradicting the fundamentals of that agreement and no one calling him out on it.
Over a period of nearly two decades, from 1990 to 2007, Adams re-educated the republican base on the best route to a united Ireland. One of his key allies in that process was Bobby Storey. We can fairly suppose some republicans had great difficulty with the changes that they were encouraged to make. Indeed, Storey was as much an enforcer of the party line as an explainer.
But in the very tribute to Storey in which Adams praised him as a peacemaker, he also said flatly that he and Storey believed in principles that are contrary to the agreement.
In December 1993 Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and the Prime Minister John Major made a joint declaration, anticipating that the IRA would respond with a ceasefire.
The core of that statement from the British side was that Britain "had no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland". In other words Britain was not interested in governing Northern Ireland for any advantage it derived from doing so.
The ceasefire was not formally announced until the following August, but the IRA responded immediately by ending a bombing campaign that had been disrupting life in Belfast. The city was at that time surrounded by checkpoints to deter the bombers.
At the republican plot in Milltown Cemetery on the day of Storey's funeral, Adams said that: "England rules us only in English interests and that the time is coming when we will end English rule and replace it with governance by the people of this island for the people of this island."
So, 27 years after Britain's declaration that it did not have an interest in retaining Northern Ireland within the Union, Adams has said he doesn't believe that. He says that despite the fact that the peace process was advanced by the statement and despite the IRA having ended the bombing of commercial targets as a signal of its intention to work towards a ceasefire.
But there was another important assertion in the joint declaration. This was that Britain would only continue to govern Northern Ireland by the consent of the majority of the people here.
When that consent was withdrawn and a majority made clear that it wanted a united Ireland, then Britain would facilitate a transition towards that. That undertaking is written into the Good Friday Agreement.
At the eulogy to Storey Adams said: "They cannot rule over us." He dismissed Boris Johnson and British ministers as "amadans and nonentities". An amadan is a fool. It's what the Christian Brothers would call you when they were lifting you out of your seat by the ear.
Adams said: "They have not our consent to rule us." That, he said, is what Bobby Storey believed.
And no one has emerged from the republican movement to say: "But Gerry, that's not what you said before."
The position that Adams took at the funeral, and which he attributed to Storey, is the purist republicanism of the past. It is the dissident position. And it contradicts the understandings in the Good Friday Agreement, which the other parties to the agreement have understood for the last 22 years to be the position of Sinn Fein.
If Sinn Fein does not accept the consent principle, then it does not accept the Good Friday Agreement.
Imagine if a unionist leader, who had committed a party to the Good Friday Agreement, made the same comment.
Imagine if Peter Robinson - now, like Adams, retired as leader - was to say that he did not accept the consent principle and that regardless of how many people in Northern Ireland wanted to leave the Union, he would not recognise their right to do so.
I think that would be equivalent to what Adams has just done.
A unionist making such a statement would cause uproar. Adams ditching the consent principle wasn't even noticed and perhaps will have no impact.
His refusal of consent to being governed by Britain and his discounting of the consent of unionists as irrelevant have no practical translation into action - so far.
So long as republicans aren't going to let this imagined lack of consent prompt them towards violence again, then this little throwback to chauvinistic thinking counts for very little.
And Adams made plain that the field of battle now is electoral politics and that the core goal is the growth of Sinn Fein. And Sinn Fein learnt the hard way that it cannot thrive alongside an IRA campaign.
But what are republicans to make of his statement? Are they not confused by it?
It's all reminiscent of Orwell's 1984. Yesterday, we were at war with Eastasia and we were always at war with Eastasia. Today, Eastasia is our ally against Eurasia and has always been our ally against Eurasia.
Yesterday, we agreed to a consent principle. Today, the position is that there never has been consent.
What does Big Brother - sorry, Gerry Adams - actually believe? And what did Bobby Storey believe?
As a supposed champion of the peace process he jeopardised it several times if the big operations credited to him were, in fact, his.
The Thiepval Barracks bombs of 1996 might easily have ended the loyalist ceasefires and complicated any later effort to stop the violence.
The Northern Bank robbery seemed to signal that the IRA reserved the right to carry on as a criminal gang and came close to disillusioning the Irish Government, as well as the unionists.
Storey in his actions and Adams in his speeches routinely stretched the credibility of their own peace process to the limit, as if they were constantly daring other parties to walk away from it.
And who can say that similar mischief wasn't at work in the organisation of Storey's funeral. Was it intentional provocation? A wind-up?
But what are we to make of the electoral base of a party that stays loyal regardless of how much the statements of core philosophy change?
Big Brother - sorry, Gerry Adams - could stand up tomorrow and say: "It was never about the border; it was always and only about 'taty bread and wee sweetie mice." And they would cheer him.
What politician wouldn't love to have followers like that?