Saturday, May 25, 2013

And I'm Proud to be an American Where the Hypocrites Bitch and Moan

I recently saw one of those increasingly formulaic like this if you agree with this sentiment from floating around on Facebook. It asks Facebook viewers to like this if you you are committed to America's first principles. I find things like this somewhat humourous if also annoying and depressing because I know that those who put things like this up really aren't committed to the principles of the founding fathers, which is what I assume they mean by first principles.

As usual from such sources the rhetoric in this sentiment poster is mostly demagogic. It is demagogeury of the worst sort because if you are going to take the second amendment, the amendment that guarantees that guns will be available to the militia literally it, circular reasoning this, guarantees guns to militia members. The Supreme Court, some of whose claim to be devoted to first principles, of course recently legislated this literal and contextual interpretation of the amendment away and interpreted the amendment as allowing every American to own a gun. But even if the amendment allows every American to own a gun it only, read literally, guarantees Americans a gun of the eighteenth century variety.

I mention this because--and I apologise for sometimes being too subtle I keep forgetting that subtlety is impossible in the world of Michelle Rhee and her even worse born again Christian counterparts--if you are going to allow "gun" to be interpreted very liberally incorporating changes that have occurred in guns and gun technology since the 1790s into your interpretation of gun, you, logically, cannot prohibit updating the Constitution to take into account other changes that have occurred in the US and the world since the late 1700s and taking these changes into account when interpreting constitutional law.

The problem here is that this is exactly what many of those constitutional original intentists and literalists do. They claim that the Constitution should only be read literally and in relationship to the original intent (which by logical necessity must also include the original context) of the founding fathers. And this is why they are not only bad scribes but are even worse hypocrites. They say original intent out of one side of the mouths while advocating interpretive updating of the Constitution out of the other side of their mouths.

I should also point out that many of those who proclaim their faith in the inviolability of the Constitution are selective in their devotion to it. Many of them seem to regard the second amendment as divine and inviolable seem to spend a lot of time whinging about the first regarding religious establishment and separation and doing everything they can to try to undermine it.

Speaking of the Constitution, its history, and how it has been adapted to changing times, I have really been enjoying watching Peter Sagel's Constitution USA on PBS the last several weeks. Check it out.

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