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Before or after you head out to the beach
July 4, 2006 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Look, just take some time and read the Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights at the very least. Got sometime? Try the Articles of Confederation. Or the Constitution. Still with us? Then go hog wild.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (80 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Aren't those those archaeological documents they found buried under Cheney's secret bunker?
posted by rmmcclay at 7:33 AM on July 4, 2006


Actually, I think these documents can be found in the White House garbage can.

Great links for Independence Day.
posted by bim at 7:37 AM on July 4, 2006


Download the Constitution to your iPod.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:38 AM on July 4, 2006


The Stylistic Artistry of the Declaration of Independence.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:38 AM on July 4, 2006


Can we save the snark for another thread and just concentrate on sticking with theme or adding more to the original post?

For instance, are there any other significant writings that migh pertain to the 4th?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on July 4, 2006


The full text of Common Sense by Thomas Paine.
posted by mathowie at 7:42 AM on July 4, 2006


For instance, are there any other significant writings that migh pertain to the 4th?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM PST


Yes.

The Federalist Papers
posted by rough ashlar at 7:42 AM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Declaration of Independence was based on the the Virginia Declaration of Rights (June 12, 1776) drafted by George Mason

Article I: That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.
posted by three blind mice at 8:03 AM on July 4, 2006


The Iroquois Constitution. Some background on it.
posted by NoMich at 8:15 AM on July 4, 2006


I rather liked 23skidoo's take on the Declaration of Independence.
posted by mragreeable at 8:26 AM on July 4, 2006



the Declaration in American English...

WHEN THINGS get so balled up that the people of a country got to cut loose from some other country, and go it on their own hook, without asking no permission from nobody, excepting maybe God Almighty, then they ought to let everybody know why they done it, so that everybody can see they are not trying to put nothing over on nobody.

All we got to say on this proposition is this: first, me and you is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better; second, nobody ain't got no right to take away none of our rights; third, every man has got a right to live, to come and go as he pleases, and to have a good time whichever way he likes, so long as he don't interfere with nobody else. That any government that don't give a man them rights ain't worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of government they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any government don't do this, then the people have got a right to give it the bum's rush and put in one that will take care of their interests.
posted by lathrop at 8:33 AM on July 4, 2006 [2 favorites]


Aren't those all just goddamn pieces of paper?
posted by Thorzdad at 8:41 AM on July 4, 2006


All we ask, America, is that you live up to what you said on paper.
posted by stet at 8:43 AM on July 4, 2006


the Declaration in American English...

I like that. In my head, it's in Nathan Fillion's voice.
posted by EarBucket at 8:44 AM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Some interesting bits from the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it...

The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

...there's more...

***

The Bill of Rights is a more concise document. Just read through them again. Yep. All violated. Daily.
posted by rmmcclay at 8:45 AM on July 4, 2006


John Locke's Two Treatises of Governnment, most especially Book Two?
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:55 AM on July 4, 2006


Goddess forbid that any American should feel any pride today, or be at all thankful for living in the US. All true Americans should spend today hanging their heads in shame for the sins committed in their name and for all the ways in which America fails to achieve perfection.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:15 AM on July 4, 2006


Well, maybe for 5 minutes in between flippin' paddies wouldn't hurt.
posted by rmmcclay at 9:28 AM on July 4, 2006


Your stinging rhetoric will get you nowhere, Den Beste. Now feel guilty!
posted by cortex at 9:30 AM on July 4, 2006


SCDB, I think the common sentiment here is that the United States was founded in recognition of commendable principles and that it is important to continue to recognize them by holding America's government accountable to the actions it takes in pursuit of those selfsame principles it swears to uphold.
posted by kittyprecious at 9:33 AM on July 4, 2006


Fuck that nonsense, Den Beste. Go on back to your own blog and share it with your toadies and sycophants. You do us all a disservice to tar people with that brush.

I feel a great deal of pride in America because I recognize that the ideals in those documents were truly revolutionary. That they were and are the goals which any nation should strive for. I still celebrate this holiday because I continue to believe that it is possible for us to be an example to the world of how to set out to accomplish those things.

Nevertheless, I agree completely with the view that more often than not the people who have been entrusted with the governing of this country have failed to live up to those ideals, and that the people who are presently ensconced in power have not only been derelict in this duty but have deliberately sought to work against nearly every single one of those principles. If there is a reason to hang one's head in shame today, and I believe that there is, it is not because we are Americans but because we have allowed people like Bush and Cheney to run roughshod over our sacred trust.
posted by briank at 9:35 AM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


...patties... =)

Other bits for the 4th of July...

As well as this:
The Fourth of July Celebrations Database.
posted by rmmcclay at 9:36 AM on July 4, 2006


Kenneth Davis, Don't Know Much About History:
Back in the early 1960s, when I was growing up, there was a silly pop song called, "What Did Washington Say When He Crossed the Delaware?" Sung to the tarantella beat of an Italian wedding song, the answer went something like, "Martha, Martha, there'll be no pizza tonight."

Of course, these lyrics were absurd: everyone knew Washington only ate cherry pie.

On that December night in 1776, George might have told himself that this raid on an enemy camp in Trenton, New Jersey, better work. Or else he might be ordering a last meal before the British strung him up. But as the general rallied his ragged, barefoot troops across the icy delaware, one of his actual comments was far more amusing than those actual lyric.s Stepping into his boat, Washington--the plain frontiersman, not the marbleized demigod--nudged 280-pound General Henry "Ox" Know with the tip of his boot and said, "Shift that fat ass, Harry. But slowly, or you'll swamp the damned boat."
And here's an excellent blog post on George Washington and his personal courage during the early Revolutionary War. (Warning to Bush partisans: includes some unflattering comparisons to Bush.)
posted by russilwvong at 9:36 AM on July 4, 2006


There's a major sale on all day for the 4th at Home depot!
Hurry consumers! Don't miss this independant event! Extra 10% if your military.
posted by Unregistered User at 9:52 AM on July 4, 2006


Take some time and explore the Founder's Constitution project, which annotates the Constitution with references to other founding-era documents which provide insight into the meaning and purpose of the provisions. In print it runs to five oversized volumes with more than 3,200 double-column pages, but it's much easier to explore on the web.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:54 AM on July 4, 2006


Some interesting bits from the Declaration of Independence
It's better if you add links.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:02 AM on July 4, 2006


Jefferson Digital Archive at the University of Virginia.

...and thanks saucy for the ipod mp3 of the constitution.
posted by bim at 10:03 AM on July 4, 2006


A great book on the early Revolution--in fact the best history book I have read in years--is David Hackett Fischer's Washington's Crossing. You can read the introduction here. Vastly superior to McCullough's book 1776.
posted by LarryC at 10:06 AM on July 4, 2006


Oh, and here is a good critical review of the Founders Constitution project that Monju links above.
posted by LarryC at 10:09 AM on July 4, 2006


On Liberty by JS Mill.
The Social Contract by Rousseau.
On the Origins of Inequality by Rousseau.
The Complete Works of Thomas Paine.
posted by klangklangston at 10:28 AM on July 4, 2006


I was looking at a rough draft of the Declaration of Independence yesterday and I noticed that Jefferson wrote "nature's god" without the capital G.

Is this most likely due to this being a draft? Or is it that, since he was a Deist, capitalizing the G didn't really matter, and only when it was finally drafted for print, did they capitalize it for fear of offending certain Christians whose support they would need?

I'm betting it's the former, but it would certainly be more interesting if the latter, I think...
posted by symbioid at 10:33 AM on July 4, 2006


Original draft of Jefferson's Declaration (even better, if you have a Norton Anthology of American Lit., volume one, you can read the original and see the italicized text that was removed).

Fascinating stuff. And the original only serves to further complicate Jefferson's view on slavery--he actually blames the British king for fostering the slave trade (like a drug addict blaming Columbia for his problems), and Franklin stepped in to remove some of the most provocative language (we wanted to gain the moral support of our former countrymen, not alienate them entirely).

As far as patriotism is concerned, I love my county and want it back as soon as possible.
posted by bardic at 10:37 AM on July 4, 2006


"I still celebrate this holiday because I continue to believe that it is possible for us to be an example to the world of how to set out to accomplish those things."

I no longer can in good conscience celebrate this holiday because this ain't how we set an example. It's how we create enemies who, due to vengeance or other motivations, will stop at nothing until every last one of us are put in the dirt. The British Empire once circled the globe. Now look at it. We Americans circle it now with embassies, but we're worse at it then previous empires. If you're gonna pour billions of dollars into a money pit like Iraq, the least you can do is make it the 51st state of the union. All we're doing is insuring generations of bitter hatred. Telling the grandchildren of Muhammed that some of our hearts were in the right place ain't gonna mean all that much to his offspring.

What the hell are we getting out of pushing our weight around halfway around the world? The only ones benefitting from any of this are the contracted corporations. It's called Blood Money. I wish to God I could go to every one of those dead soldiers and push their blood back into their bodies with my bare hands and breathe life back into them and beg them not to give their lives for this. Dude. This is not patriotism. This is corporatism! Don't be a wall of flesh for this!

This is not how our founding fathers envisioned America to behave internationally. Pride. Envy. Greed. Lust. Gluttony. Sloth. Vanity. From before the Roman Empire to long after you and I are communing with worms. That's what will thrive. That's what will survive. You tell me to be proud of that? I'm to be proud of the fact we could have risen above this, but we chose not to! As a race of creatures on this spinning rock we all rose up in one voice and said "Hell no! I'd rather wallow in the muck then try to be something better! Where's that musket? Where's that nuclear warhead? Let's go be animals and cause our own extinction! The hell with learning from the past or seeking a better tomorrow! KILL OR BE KILLED! STEAL OR BE STOLEN FROM! That's the way to live and die! Ignorance is bliss! Give me that bullet in the head!

We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all are created equal. They have been endowed by The Progenitor of Life with certain inalienable rights, including that of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We respond to this gift by taking it for granted.

We don't live up to those ideals by behaving in the same manner as the bastards our forefathers escaped from the Old World to achieve those erstwhile inalienable rights in the new. We've become the very thing we fought against over two hundred years ago, and this day of all days no American should ignore that fact. America has become the Redcoats. May God, or whatever the hell you believe in, help us all.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:40 AM on July 4, 2006


And for the record, the two greatest Revolutionary "heroes" for me are Jefferson and Paine. I think they embody the spirit more than anyone else. I was born in July 1976, so I always had this big radically independent spirit instilled in me, all sorts of bicentennial "stuff" (flags, books, cups, candles, etc...) collected for me by my folks.

And it's funny, because I'm one of the most anti-American people I know, but I mean that in the sense of "anti-Capital" and "anti-Religion"... The spirit of rebellion that the Declaration embodies is still within me, and any of these so called "Americans" who rail against "Traitors" are, to me, utterly un-American. (suck it, Coulter)

Rebellion is the very spirit of the founding of our country. What it's turned into, I don't know.

And spare me the "Jefferson was a slave-owner too!" crap. I know. None of us are perfect. I'd be a vegetarian if I lived up to my perfect ideals. And that's the point, isn't it... People aren't perfect, and we aren't a perfect nation. We don't fully live up to our ideals... But the point is to struggle and keep trying.

And if things get beyond mere repair, it is our duty to correct it. Nuff Said.
posted by symbioid at 10:42 AM on July 4, 2006


Seeing that bardic posted a link to the text version, I found the actual image I was looking at, you can see it here.

It is quite large, but it's nice and legible.
posted by symbioid at 10:47 AM on July 4, 2006


If Jesus came back today, he'd be locked up for vagrancy and then thrown into a state mental institution for life.

Geniusus like Jefferson, Paine, Franklin, Hamilton, Madison, etc.? Labelled as atheist flip-floppers, millions spent by certain political groups to brand them as anti-American, the risks they took with their actual lives and livelihoods reduced to band-aids with little gallows-poles on them, questions raised as to why they "hate America," and so on.

But ya know, America is the greatest county on earth. I firmly believe that. I think this is a good day to reflect on what's been accomplished and what still needs to be, and to just compare our current leadership with what we used to have is a worthy mental exercise (and I'll admit, a bit sickening).
posted by bardic at 10:50 AM on July 4, 2006


Is this most likely due to this being a draft? Or is it that, since he was a Deist, capitalizing the G didn't really matter, and only when it was finally drafted for print, did they capitalize it for fear of offending certain Christians whose support they would need?

Probably the former. He was a deist, after all, as were a number of others in the assembly. These were church-going folk, but they weren't exactly evangelicals. They were informed by the Bible and their religion in creating the document, but they weren't out to write a Jack Chick tract. The most "Christian" of the revolutionaries, Patrick Henry, wasn't even in the room.

The assembly only became these "super Jesus freak blessed by angels and doves from above and commended by the LORD their GOD to create a nation with over 1000 Home Depot locations" when people mythologized them during the Second Great Awakening.
posted by dw at 10:51 AM on July 4, 2006


Jefferson thought the Christian Testament was one of the best moral guides available, but he couldn't truck with all the mythological/magical garbage in it.

So he made his own Bible with a pair of scissors.
posted by bardic at 10:53 AM on July 4, 2006


One minor influence not often brought up: The Declaration of Arborath.
posted by dw at 10:55 AM on July 4, 2006


Are the wheels coming off?

Is the present course sustainable?

Do we have the political maturity to tackle the challenges we face?

Are we using our immense resources wisely, towards productive investment in the future? Or are we mindlessly consuming our childrens' future now?

Should these questions be raised on July 4, our national holiday celebrating the establishment of our government, the self-same government that is arguably leading us into the abyss presently?

Q: to Steven C. Den Beste: aren't you a bit concerned that your contribution to today's thread here is essentially logical fallacy?

Or, more to the point, WTF is wrong with you?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:56 AM on July 4, 2006


Goddess forbid that any American should feel any pride today, or be at all thankful for living in the US.

Sorry you can't feel actual pride in what America was once (and will become again). Sorry the documents cited above mean so little to the superfical flag wavers.

Sorry you and yours feel pride only in that which is bought and sold and powerful, instead of in what we who actually love America prize most: justice, tolerance, community, humility, and real freedom.

Sorry so many of you haven't got clue one as to what July 4th...and America....are really about.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:01 AM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Are the wheels coming off?

The wheels have nearly come off several times in American history. Valley Forge. War of 1812. Bleeding Kansas. Civil War. The trusts. The Great Depression. 1968. Watergate. And every time, the Union has pulled itself together and either sauntered on or changed direction.

I don't think this union will remain forever, and I certainly don't think the present course is sustainable, but we'll survive.
posted by dw at 11:03 AM on July 4, 2006


I for one am VERY proud of what America was, and what I hope it will be again. I'm just not proud of what it's been the past five years or so. I didn't like bullies in elementary school. I don't like them now. Even when they're joined at my hip.

Bardic said: "Jefferson thought the Christian Testament was one of the best moral guides..."

In recent years I've found myself looking up to Jefferson. He had the right idea. Take from religion what works for you and edit out the rest. I look up to others for similar reasons. The reason for a separation of church and state is so the state doesn't determine which church is THE church. Each person can opt to worship as he or she chooses, without the state determining if that's right or wrong. I think that's what Jefferson had in mind. Among those available to him, Christian theology had the best moral code. All children should be raised with that moral understanding. He just didn't like the baggage that came along with Christianity. Stang says make up your own baggage. It's not the baggage that makes a trip worthwhile anyway. Although, depending on what baggage you take along with you on the journey, it can make it more or less fun!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:04 AM on July 4, 2006


He has refused his Assent to Laws, ...
check, check, check, ... I'm ready to revolt.

And we already had the rights listed in the Constitution--the document just affirmed that it was so. The problem has always been with implementation, but except for recent history, ours is one of expanding and affirming rights in fits and starts, and not the opposite, thankfully--we'll have to work hard to ensure that it remains so today and for the future.
posted by amberglow at 11:08 AM on July 4, 2006


No doubt the Revolution and founding of the US was a group effort, but warts-and-all (slave owner, pretty mediocre third president) Jefferson is also my favorite among them (maybe because I used to live in Charlottesville, but more likely because he was such a great and provocative writer).

If you've never been, check out Monticello--it's like a mind reified into architecture.

And who wouldn't want to die broke, having spent his remaining wealth on wine and books? And then having those books become the Library of Congress?
posted by bardic at 11:12 AM on July 4, 2006


or be at all thankful for living in the US.

Better than being in Afganistan or Iraq.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:19 AM on July 4, 2006


(Juan Cole's project to translate more foundational American documents into Arabic.)
posted by bardic at 11:19 AM on July 4, 2006


There was this little something that was deleted after the civil war, the original 13th amendment.It went around the time the Federal Gov was chartered as a corporation in 1868.
posted by hortense at 11:22 AM on July 4, 2006


For law geeks: The Annotated Constitution, by the staff at the Library of Congress.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 11:25 AM on July 4, 2006


check, check, check, ... I'm ready to revolt.

Just keep the Civil War in mind. Rebellion was a lot easier for Washington et al then it would be for modern Americans, because the US was a collection of colonies seperated from their masters by a lot of water. When the fighting was done, what was left of the enemy sailed far far away. Any revolt here would have as its aftermath something more like the post-Civil War Reconstruction, maybe worse. Civil war now would fragment the country. The red/blue states aren't really red and blue. If Ohio, where I live became part of one nation hostile to, say North Carolina, or Massachusetts or California, where my realtives live, would "my" state be fighting my folks' state? Too messy. Too ugly.
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:30 AM on July 4, 2006


There was this little something that was deleted after the civil war, the original 13th amendment.It went around the time the Federal Gov was chartered as a corporation in 1868.

Actually, no.
posted by dw at 11:41 AM on July 4, 2006


And while we're on failed and pending constitutional amendments, here are some of the amendments proposed by Congress the last 15 years: Not included are the bevy of anti-abortion, sanctity of marriage, flag burning, and voting-related amendments.
posted by dw at 12:01 PM on July 4, 2006


Thanks for the link, dw,TONA is included in the Copy of the Constitution that Colorado recieved in 1876.
posted by hortense at 12:09 PM on July 4, 2006


Jefferson is also my favorite among them

Colonial Williamsburg Turns to Podcasting
"Thomas Jefferson isn't about to start listening to an iPod, with telltale earbud wires dangling from under his three-cornered hat as he walks the streets of Colonial Williamsburg.

But people far from the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia can use their portable audio players to hear costumed interpreter Bill Barker talk about portraying Jefferson or, in honor of the Fourth of July holiday, read the Declaration of Independence."
Colonial Williamsburg podcasts

Smithsonian podcasts

Monticello podcasts

Boston Freedom Trail podcast .
posted by ericb at 12:13 PM on July 4, 2006


I was given a little pocket sized copy of the Declaration and the Constitution w/ amendments from a friend. It came from the CATO Institute. I keep it with me and scratch out parts as they are nullified. The whole thing smells like sharpie marker ink.

You can get a copy for $1 at 1-800-767-1241 (it says in the book)
Pretty handy little thing to carry on you, I find myself whipping it out and referencing it often.
posted by Balisong at 12:22 PM on July 4, 2006


Too messy. Too ugly.

You can revolt without actual combat, you know--there are all sorts of ways---strikes, slowdowns, tax things, not purchasing things, civil actions, civil disobedience...the beginnings of many of these things are already happening--BuyBlue, and July 4th boycott over voting irregularities are just 2 of many. Gas prices keep rising, and people are already cutting their consumption--what would it take to turn that into a nationwide and intentional thing?
posted by amberglow at 12:31 PM on July 4, 2006


and some Soldiers have already been doing their part, by not returning to duty or refusing to go. Recruitment has been devastated, and that counts too. There are so very many things that can be done (or not done) throughout our society, and people have already started--they just need to grow. Leave My Child Alone has been enormously influential all over the country, for another one.

Starve the beast until they change.
posted by amberglow at 12:37 PM on July 4, 2006


ActBlue has a great thing too where you can donate even a tiny amount to progressive candidates and spread it out exactly to who you want. $5 matters nowadays, you know, and it's enough to help smack fools like Lieberman, and others who think their Senate and House seats are theirs until they die, or just to fight hateful and wholly unAmerican assholes like Santorum and Weldon in PA.

We're online, and there's real power in gathering people together for something, or against something. It's actually easier now to build big groups working towards good goals (and that terrifies them--itself a plus).
posted by amberglow at 12:47 PM on July 4, 2006


Can't I just wait for the movie?
posted by HTuttle at 12:58 PM on July 4, 2006


Can't I just wait for the movie?

Nope, unless that movie is 1984. ... Progressive values can only be saved by ordinary citizens living up to their principles. ...
posted by amberglow at 1:00 PM on July 4, 2006


check this shit out happening in DE, and imagine much more of it everywhere directed at everyone different, Htuttle, and then you can wait for the movie if you still want.
posted by amberglow at 1:48 PM on July 4, 2006


This movie?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:49 PM on July 4, 2006


and a little crossburning at a gay guy's house will make for a great movie, no? God Bless America--is that what this means?
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on July 4, 2006


America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves.... It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters.
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
posted by Unregistered User at 1:55 PM on July 4, 2006


He has refused his Assent to Laws, ...
check, check, check, ... I'm ready to revolt.


I just participated in a public reading of the Declaration, and this was exactly the spirit of the crowd (mind you, I'm living in the People's Republic of Massachusetts): they started clapping as soon as the fourth reader got to "the Right of the People to abolish it," and I got a huge response to my line (one of my very favorites in the whole document): "A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people." Made me proud to be an American, it did. I just hope the spirit of rebellion is alive in enough of my fellow citizens...

I must admit I also enjoy the highly politically incorrect line about "the merciless Indian Savages" and took pleasure in the awkward silence that followed it.
posted by languagehat at 2:02 PM on July 4, 2006


If you like, you can check out an example of a more modern constitution for comparison, the Montana Constitution was written in 1972. Here are the first 13 (out of 30) in the declaration of rights:

Section 1. Popular sovereignty. All political power is vested in and derived from the people. All government of right originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.

Section 2. Self-government. The people have the exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state. They may alter or abolish the constitution and form of government whenever they deem it necessary.

Section 3. Inalienable rights. All persons are born free and have certain inalienable rights. They include the right to a clean and healthful environment and the rights of pursuing life's basic necessities, enjoying and defending their lives and liberties, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and seeking their safety, health and happiness in all lawful ways. In enjoying these rights, all persons recognize corresponding responsibilities.

Section 4. Individual dignity. The dignity of the human being is inviolable. No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws. Neither the state nor any person, firm, corporation, or institution shall discriminate against any person in the exercise of his civil or political rights on account of race, color, sex, culture, social origin or condition, or political or religious ideas.

Section 5. Freedom of religion. The state shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Section 6. Freedom of assembly. The people shall have the right peaceably to assemble, petition for redress or peaceably protest governmental action.

Section 7. Freedom of speech, expression, and press. No law shall be passed impairing the freedom of speech or expression. Every person shall be free to speak or publish whatever he will on any subject, being responsible for all abuse of that liberty. In all suits and prosecutions for libel or slander the truth thereof may be given in evidence; and the jury, under the direction of the court, shall determine the law and the facts.

Section 8. Right of participation. The public has the right to expect governmental agencies to afford such reasonable opportunity for citizen participation in the operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be provided by law.

Section 9. Right to know. No person shall be deprived of the right to examine documents or to observe the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state government and its subdivisions, except in cases in which the demand of individual privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public disclosure.

Section 10. Right of privacy. The right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.

Section 11. Searches and seizures. The people shall be secure in their persons, papers, homes and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures. No warrant to search any place, or seize any person or thing shall issue without describing the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized, or without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation reduced to writing.

Section 12. Right to bear arms. The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person, and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called in question, but nothing herein contained shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons.

Section 13. Right of suffrage. All elections shall be free and open, and no power, civil or military, shall at any time interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage.
posted by 445supermag at 2:29 PM on July 4, 2006


http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/

Happy Birthday America!
posted by birdherder at 3:56 PM on July 4, 2006


Ho hum. I wonder how Britain got started. Oh wait. No I don't. I don't give a rat's ass how Britain got started.

Enjoy your little circle jerk, America. Enjoy being so far up your own self-mythologising arse you can celebrate the dull, blunt fact of your very existence whilst simultaneously slaughtering, maiming and bereaving tens of thousands of people, destabilising an entire region of the world, exacerbating terrorism, being by far the worst despoiler of the environment and generally being a bunch of cocky, lardarsed gobshites who would do well to experiment with the philosophical possibilities of shutting the fuck up and trying a little humility for a while.

God.
posted by Decani at 7:25 PM on July 4, 2006


"I no longer can in good conscience celebrate this holiday because this ain't how we set an example."

Aww, pissoff. That's like saying you can't celebrate Thanksgiving because you're a vegetarian. Stop acting like this country doesn't have a lot of great things going for it, and that on the balance it isn't a pretty great place to live. Statements like that make Fox News call liberals America Haters.

"Enjoy your little circle jerk, America. Enjoy being so far up your own self-mythologising arse you can celebrate the dull, blunt fact of your very existence whilst simultaneously slaughtering, maiming and bereaving tens of thousands of people, destabilising an entire region of the world, exacerbating terrorism, being by far the worst despoiler of the environment and generally being a bunch of cocky, lardarsed gobshites who would do well to experiment with the philosophical possibilities of shutting the fuck up and trying a little humility for a while."

And you moved here, dipshit. Oh no, our country is so bad that you came here to live. You showed us! Zing! We're fat and bad, you card! Cripple us with your wit again, Wilde! You know what? Our coffee is bad and we often wear ugly clothes! We wear cowboy hats and maybe still have slaves! One time, we were all in France, and we talked really loud and called it "noter dame," like the words were exhaled through a corncob!
Thank God you moved here, Limey! Save us from ourselves! Then finally you'll be able to get the crumpets you like here!
(And might I think that this is a fine time to point out that this is the anniversary of when we decided that we really didn't have to listen to how British people might run America if they were in charge?)
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 PM on July 4, 2006


I love america.
posted by Dreamghost at 8:24 PM on July 4, 2006


It's okay.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:49 PM on July 4, 2006


"Aww, pissoff."

Thank you Klang for proving my point for me. You surely are a noble example of what America is all about. I bow to your superior corporatism patriotism.

"Statements like that make Fox News call liberals America Haters."

Actually that would be their marketing research. They know there's more people like you who will tune in to listen to them diss liberals, then there are people like me who would waste our time tuning in to Fox News to hear them diss on conservatives. Fox News gives you what you want, so you'll watch their commercials.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:57 PM on July 4, 2006


Good post Brandon.
posted by Skygazer at 10:42 PM on July 4, 2006


Statements like that make Fox News call liberals America Haters.

Actually that would be their marketing research. They know there's more people like you who will tune in to listen to them diss liberals


And the rhetoric is getting much nastier.
posted by homunculus at 12:42 AM on July 5, 2006


Enjoy your little circle jerk, America.
A British person is saying this to me? Teenagers get dumber every year.
posted by Divine_Wino at 5:03 AM on July 5, 2006


"Thank you Klang for proving my point for me. You surely are a noble example of what America is all about. I bow to your superior corporatism patriotism. "

Yes, America is about getting drunk on the 4th and telling whiners to piss off. And ooh, that "corpratism" zinger got me good!

"Actually that would be their marketing research. They know there's more people like you who will tune in to listen to them diss liberals, then there are people like me who would waste our time tuning in to Fox News to hear them diss on conservatives. Fox News gives you what you want, so you'll watch their commercials."

Yes, everyone who points out what a dipshit saying things like you're not gonna celebrate American independence because America (Amerikkka?) hasn't been the eternally perfect nation must be a Fox-watching conservative.
You're the same kinda pussy that complains about Fox News instead of realizing that they have a model that works and that the solution isn't to sit around grousing that Fox breaks the arbitrary rules of reportage, but to examine what makes them appealing and duplicate that (I especially like claims that Fox hurts democracy, which are trotted out by people with very little historical sense of American media).
You're a nattering nabob of negativism, and more of a civic danger than I am.
posted by klangklangston at 5:53 AM on July 5, 2006


And you moved here, dipshit.

Yes, because that's where my partner lived. And you can be sure that as soon as we're able we're both moving right the hell out again, dipshit.
posted by Decani at 4:28 PM on July 10, 2006


And might I think that this is a fine time to point out that this is the anniversary of when we decided that we really didn't have to listen to how British people might run America if they were in charge?)

I think you might indeed think that, yes, you clearly hysterical twat. I think it's an excellent time for you to think you might think that when it comes to thinking, goddam it, no one is gonna tell you yanks how to think when you're demonstrably doing such a fan-fucking-tastic job of it yourself. Ya think Iraq is gonna work out dandy for you any time soon, you shit-scarfing world-raper? Please, share! I love watching you self-mythologising imbeciles think almost as much as I like watching all-night Spielberg movie marathons whilst being shafted up the shitter by Donald Rumsfeld in an Uncle Sam outfit.
posted by Decani at 4:35 PM on July 10, 2006


Decani, you appear to have mistaken klangklangston for a Bush supporter.

Even Americans who aren't Fox-watching Bush supporters might be offended by your earlier comments. Especially because you're living in the US by choice, regardless of your motivations.
posted by russilwvong at 4:55 PM on July 10, 2006


Decani: Iraq? Right on, you inbred toady. You fucking Brits are right there with us, tally-ho and all that rot.
Off you go, limey, time to sip your tea whilst being buggered.
posted by klangklangston at 6:46 AM on July 11, 2006


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