Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Audacity of the Rewrite

That sound you hear is Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers rolling over in their graves.

Robert Stacy McCain (and Smitty) reports, via Jerry Pournelle, that Team Obama has undertaken a rewrite of the Constitution. I don't think I can express my burning, fuming disgust any better than Smitty has so you need to go read his take on it.

But let me just say that it is audacity indeed to try to rewrite the Constitution of the United States. Our Founding Fathers did a pretty darn good job.

As an educator in the public school system, I am strongly opposed to the "dumbing down" of any
course material. We are encouraged to raise our students to the reading level of a text; one government program after another is designed to help bring kids up to reading/grade level. Yet it remains true that throughout the American educational system we continue to dumb down reading material. When I was in high school, WAY back in the day, we read Silas Marner in 10th grade and Pride and Prejudice.

The first year I taught high school seniors and put Jane Eyre in their hands, well, you would have thought I'd given them the entire text of Milton's Paradise Lost. They asked me if we could read The Outsiders. And given a choice, they'd rather watch the movie.

You know what I said? NO! We're going to read THIS book. And they did. And most of them liked it (not so much the boys!)

If Team Obama wants our American students to be competitive worldwide with other students then why in the world would you lower the reading level of the Constitution? In fact, studies have been done which show that lowering the reading level of material does NOT necessarily increase comprehension, if that was actually his point.

But more than that it is just the arrogance of it. What's next? As Smitty so eloquently said,

"Mr. President, you are encouraged to conserve your creativity for your next best-seller. You are discouraged from setting a precedent for people to get jiggy wit' da text."


yukio ngaby said...

Am I missing something? I don't see a rewrite on any of the links. I mean there's that grade school level analysis... Is that what you're talking about?

If so, I'd suggest a tearing apart of the analysis. Putting up a summary or a simple analysis is a common thing since the Constitution's writing.

And you know I'm no fan of Obama...

Pat said...

It is in fact the analysis; it changes the nuance of the words. It's sort of similar, to me, when you translate something from say, French, to English. Or vice-versa. You lose something in the translation or slightly change it.

Why can't we just post the Constitution, as written, on the White House site rather than the Sesame Street version?

G. R. said...

The Constitution isn't exactly a hard text to understand. It's funny how people who don't like certains aspects of ghe Constitution will distort the meaning of clauses or amendments they don't agree with. For instance,"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
What is so hard to understand about that? Ok, the word militia is mentioned, but it doesn't say that only people who are members of a militia can keep and bear arms, it says "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
But then most of the people who misreads the Second Amendment have found clauses that don't even exist that gives rights,that doesn't even exist, to the people: like housing and healthcare and other social issues.
I have a pocket copy of the Constitution. It's a wonderful document, and I read it from time to time.

yukio ngaby said...

Pat: "Why can't we just post the Constitution, as written, on the White House site rather than the Sesame Street version?"

Okay. That would be a nice addition. But I don't see this as a big deal. The Constitution was written as a flexible document (and readily available), which was part of its genius. And an analysis gives us a better perspective as to how the Constitution is being interpreted now or would like to be interpreted by this admin. That's why I say go after the analysis and not the merely the fact that the analysis exists.

I mean we have constitutional law professors and lawyers for interpretive reasons. It's unreasonable to expect the words of the Constitution to be without certain implications. I go into this a little bit when I talk about the "separation of church and state" (not a phrase actually in the wording of the document) concept.

Sorry if I'm being snarky on this.

emptysuit said...

Team Obama wants to make the Constitution in a language ACORN can understand, as a junior lawyer Mr. Obama ran around trying to explain civil right to people who couldn't understand the alphabet. Now as president he and his friends will try to make the constitution easy as a.b.c. for those that voted for him, dont be fooled this is for the Articles of the Constitution, a change to more social status.