Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our Barbarous Ancestors


The right loves to quote Thomas Jefferson above all other Founding Fathers. I wonder what they'd make of his assessment of the Constitution and his own role as a founder:
I am not an advocate for frequent changes in law and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.
In other words, don't amend the Constitution willy-nilly but always consider it within the context of the current day. Oh, and originalism is stupid. That's as opposed to, amend the Constitution willy-nilly to require a balanced budget, ban abortion, make English the official language, bar the native-born children of undocumented workers from citizenship, allow school prayer, and repeal the 17th Amendment while otherwise keeping the law of the land rooted firmly in 1789 and in however we and only we interpret the collective mind of the Founding Fathers...

Absolute must read: D2D reveals the pet-owner relationship between Boob Bob Jindal and two powerful members of Louisiana's oil oligarchy...

9 comments:

Steven said...

Odd. I've always been fascinated by the mind of Thomas Jefferson and consider him to be one of the greatest of thinkers. Yes, he has some glaring faults, but don't we all? Anyway, what I am getting at here is that I've always considered him to be a 'spokesman' for the Left. And yes, I am one. Apparently he is a man for all seasons...and reasons.

Roy said...

The "original intent" fanatics always amuse me. How do they know? As Baron Munchhausen used to say on the old radio show: "Was you dere, Cholly?"

I'm also amused by how selectively conservatives quote Jefferson. You notice they don't quote his thoughts on separation of church and state much, especially the quotes on that subject from his Notes On Virginia. In fact, I notice that the don't quote from Notes... at all; that particualr flower of Jefferson's thought is far too radical for them!

tnlib said...

All these folks who go around saying the Founding Fathers meant this when they said that should learn their names first.

Bobby is writing his past already.

K. said...

Steven: Jefferson was a radical who owned slaves, a Deist who often referred to God, an idealist who was not above political gamesmanship. A slippery guy who often didn't walk the talk, but an incredibly powerful intellect. John Kennedy once said to a White Dinner honoring Nobel Prize winners that they represented the greatest intelligence gathered in the room since Thomas Jefferson dined there alone.

Roy: Plus, think about it: If we knew what the Founders, why bother to have a Supreme Court. The Constitution has been subject to interpretation since Marbury v. Madison.

tnlib: LOL!

Foxessa said...

It's the 13th Amendment they'd really like to repeal, those strict Constitutionalists.

I have little defense to make for Jefferson, who lived off the interstate slave trade and slave labor his whole life long. "It was his times," won't wash, because he knew better, as his writings tell us. But he prefered his personal economic comfort at the price of other people's. When he died, leaving nothing but a mountain of debt, his slaves were sold away from their homes and families.

Love, c.

TaraDharma said...

great Jefferson quote. I will use if early and often, when some neo con jerk-face starts spouting off. (Sorry dad)

I'm posting the link to the oligarchy article on my blog. Very important information - not a surprising, but necessary read.

K. said...

Foxessa: They wouldn't mind repealing the 14th, too, just to make sure.

TD: There's no debate about the significance of this quote to Jefferson: It's etched into the Jefferson Memorial.

paula said...

Well said. Fortunately, we evolve and so does every endeavor created or practiced by humans. Do we insist on leeches as medical treatment, the cure-du-jour in 1776for just about any infection? If so, count me out. We read literature in today's light---and some even do so with the Bible, heretical as that might be to others---so wouldn't we adapt a 200-plus year old document to the realities of today's world?

K. said...

Paula, you are un-American and un-Christian, which come to the same thing.