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News The Founding Fathers, unzipped

  1. Jun 30, 2011 #1


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    I thought this was a good reminder of the people involved in the formation of our government and the fallibility of the constitution.


  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2011 #2
    What is the fallibility of the Constitution exactly? And what does the un PC lives of the "fathers" have to do with it?

    Interesting discussion, BTW.
  4. Jun 30, 2011 #3


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    The article is mostly about politicians (and the general populace) holding completely wrong information about our country.

    Our founding fathers didn't agree on the constitution, and when it's ammended, it's also not entirely agreed upon, and then it's changed, and changed again. It's not the ten commandments like some people seem to believe, IMO.

    I mostly thought it might be an eye opener with the current politicians tossing nonsense around like it was irrefutable truth.
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011
  5. Jun 30, 2011 #4
    The Fallibility of the Constitution was that it was made by imperfect men, and is therefore not an entirely perfect document. At least, that would be my assumption. The un-PC lives of the "fathers" shows that they were imperfect, which makes it pretty much impossible for them to come up with something perfect.

    Good yes, Great even, but not perfect - as shown by the many amendments, and the arguments over what they meant when they said "this" or "that".
  6. Jun 30, 2011 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    It isn't so much about the Constitution as the men who framed it. But the notion that the Constitution is written in stone is fallacious. The Constitution can be amended, which has happened many times, or even rewritten. But that is a different argument than suggesting that it shouldn't be followed to the letter of the law. At any time it represents the best efforts of a free people to govern themselves. If it needs to be changed, then that must happen according to a procedure that protects everyone's interests and rights. The entire point of having a Constitution is to protect us from the fallibility and potential corruption of those given power. It is the failings and sins of our leaders, nevermind the ever-present threat of mob rule, that create the need for a Constitution in the first place.
  7. Jun 30, 2011 #6
    That doesn't answer my question. And I never said it wasn't perfect. I simply asked for a specific example. The fact that amendments were made is not an argument to it's fallibily, but a testament to how well it was designed.
  8. Jun 30, 2011 #7
    well i had no idea jefferson was a closet muslim. things have changed very little indeed.
  9. Jun 30, 2011 #8


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    Separation of church and state, for example. Both sides try to find some type of high principle for the way that amendment was worded and should be interpreted, but the real motivation was just plain old pragmatism. Various states had different religions as their state religion (and a few even required separation of church and state). If you actually had to pick one religion to be the national religion, you wouldn't have had a United States, at all. The states never would have agreed on which religion to pick. The pragmatic solution was to avoid the issue completely; decide religious issues were one thing the federal government just wouldn't deal with.

    It is true Thomas Jefferson was ardent about separation of church and state for other reasons - the statements about his religious beliefs were true, but he still had to belong to the Anglican church or be ineligible to hold office in the state of Virginia.

    But there were other 'founding fathers' that were equally adamant that the government should reflect religious values and that laws requiring a person to be a certain religion in order to hold office were perfectly valid.

    The individual leanings, ideals, etc were just irrelevant, since there was no possible way the federal government could deal with religion without breaking up the states.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2011
  10. Jul 1, 2011 #9
    I totally disagree with the author that the transgressions he noted are unreconsilable. He focuses so much on the Constitutional Framer's religious beliefs, but then forgets to come back to the point: they were still Christian, even if they don't believe the fundamentalist-type beliefs verbatium.

    The author does have a point near the end of his article - education is key. Too bad the discussions about the Constitutional Framer's are being pushed aside in favor of 'diversity' et al, so students just get the Cliff's Notes version.

    I really had a hard time reading the article. The author comes off very spiteful and inflamatory. He writing reminds me of an individual that stays quiet when a question is asked, but then is the first person to interupt and correct when the person to first respond answers. He's not willing to stick his neck out, except to push someone else down.
  11. Jul 1, 2011 #10
    What wrong information are you referring to? You have a link? Who's saying the constitution is like the ten commandments, that it was entirely agreed upon, that it hasn't been changed, that our founders were infallible?

    I've never heard anyone make such claims. Do you have a source for someone holding the views you refer to?
  12. Jul 1, 2011 #11


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    The comparison between some people's comments about the Bible and some people's comments about the Constitution are unavoidable, even if those comments almost never say the Constitution is a sacred text.

    This article, Tea Party Rooted in Religious Fervor for Constitution mentions the Tea Party, specifically, but it also shows how this isn't a new phenomena. Right from the very beginning, some of the founding fathers were treating the Constitution as a sacred text:

    Even atheists using the Constitution to justify separation of church and state tend to resemble the religious quoting from the Bible in style, if not content.
  13. Jul 1, 2011 #12
    i don't see any problem with treating the constitution in a quasi-religious fashion. if you don't, it will be amended willy-nilly, and the next thing you know you've lost the ability to speak freely or gain that freedom back without a bloody revolution.
  14. Jul 1, 2011 #13
    The Constitution is a revered document. Not unlike religious documents to it's followers. The followers of the Constitution just happen to be an entire nation. I'm not getting why that is an issue. ??
  15. Jul 1, 2011 #14
    I agree - changes should never be an emotional response or made without exhaustive debate and majority agreement.
  16. Jul 1, 2011 #15


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    This discussion puts a lot of the answers into a nutshell, just the first few minutes covers your questions, IMO.

  17. Jul 1, 2011 #16


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    This the more relevant point. Is there a problem with the way people treat the Constitution?

    And if the Contstitution should be a revered document that should never be drastically changed, is there a problem extending that reverence to the guys that wrote it?

    For every Jefferson quote that can seemingly irrefutably prove the correctness of some point, you could probably find a Hamilton quote that irrefutably proved the opposite (seeing as those two often had differing viewpoints about government). You run into problems when you start treating the guys that wrote it as a god, since you're going to have a hard time worshiping one god without offending the other.

    And, on the topic of constitutions, in general - not just the US Constitution, but state constitutions as well - isn't getting a constitutional amendment passed just a way for the dead to maintain rule over the living?

    Interesting take by William Saletan. I'm not sure I agree with him - I think he chooses his words to oversensationalize the issue - but an interesting view of constitutional amendments, none the less.

  18. Jul 1, 2011 #17


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  19. Jul 1, 2011 #18
    Very good point, especially when said amendment prohibits the people rather than the government. Can you imagine of prohibition was still enacted?
  20. Jul 1, 2011 #19
    apparently, from evo's link, people treat the constitution in a lot of different ways, and this is very much like it has always been.

    yeah, so? they disagreed, but compromised and hammered out their differences into something they could all live with. the result has been pretty successful.

    and even if you want to get into idolatry here, our constitution was wise enough not to be a respecter of any particular god.

    same ol', same ol', as far as i'm concerned.

    personally, i'm not really sure what this thread is supposed to be about unless it's some intellectual hubris and looking down our noses at those rubes over there? well, things still change, just as they always have: slowly.
  21. Jul 1, 2011 #20


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    The OP was about the lack of knowledge being tossed about as fact by potential presidential hopefuls. It was about setting history straight.
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