Monday, December 22, 2008

Frazer's Most Recent Response

Dr. Gregg Frazer has responded to the latest feedback to his thoughts generated in this comment section at American Creation. His response follows:

Mr. Van Dyke: I would ask you to at least be fair in your criticisms of my views and intellectually honest by criticizing arguments/claims that I actually make and not attributing claims to me that I do not make.

I do NOT claim "that the religious-political landscape of the Founding can be reduced to [the often private] thoughts of a half-dozen or so "key" Founders." I claim that the prevailing political theology undergirding the Founding was theistic rationalism and that it can be seen in the beliefs of a few key Founders and those of a large number of ministers in the churches of the period -- and in the Founding documents.

THERE IS MUCH MORE TO THE "RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LANDSCAPE" THAN THAT -- WHICH I HAVE AFFIRMED ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS -- INCLUDING THE POST TO WHICH YOU WERE RESPONDING. I recognize that there were a great number of religious sects in 18th century America, and representatives from many of them who played roles in the Founding.

If there is any "reductionism" going on here, it is ascribing the label of "Christian" too broadly.

Secondly, regarding your statement that "Dr. Frazer confesses he is appropriating the definition and understanding of 'Christian' to his own purposes as a self-proclaimed evangelical": I MADE NO SUCH CONFESSION! Quite the contrary, what I actually said (readers can go back and see) is that there are numerous definitions of the term "Christian" and that, for the purposes of understanding the period, I confined my work to the definition held by American Christians in the 18th century as put forward in their creeds and confessions. I noted that I have my own definition and that historians have several definitions and so on, but I did not use my own. I said that I agree with the 10 elements, but my own definition may include other elements as well -- as one could see in the definition I gave as my own. I hardly claimed to be "appropriating" the definition to my own purposes as an evangelical -- exactly the opposite!

You then made this accusation: "He casts everything outside it [definition of Christian] in his own idiosyncratic term of 'theistic rationalist,' which I regard as nonsense because of its limited scope." First, I explicitly do NOT cast "everything outside it" as theistic rationalism. I recognize deism, Judaism, atheism, Buddhism, Quakerism, and many other "isms" aside from the definition or my own "idiosyncratic" term. [it strikes me that most terms were considered idiosyncratic before being widely accepted] Second, if my term is so "limited" in scope, how could you make such a claim?

As to my term's "vagueness," I re-entered this discussion to try to clarify what "Christianity" is and how it should be dealt with by historians. "You guys" were in the midst of an ongoing argument over that term which has been raging for 2000 years. If my term is "vague," what do you say of the term "Christianity?" Of course, properly applied, it means something specific -- but so does my term. The fact that people can wrongly employ it or play games to try and manipulate it or willfully refuse to understand it doesn't change that fact.

Now, to the "smoking gun":

First, we're not talking here about the Declaration -- which is the only one of the two documents which mentions God -- Madison's commentary concerns the Constitution. Besides, the Declaration was never ratified, so there is no ratifier perspective.

Second, Madison's opinion is just that: Madison's opinion. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT, but it is not the sole authority or determinative -- it is an IMPORTANT contribution to the discussion, of course. If you consider Madison's opinion to be determinative and the end of discussion, then I would point out to you that Madison refused, when asked, to affirm Jasper Adams' contention that Christianity was the foundation of American civil, legal, and political institutions. So, apparently, the larger argument is over and we all at least agree that Christianity was not the basis (whether or not theistic rationalism is "nonsense").

Third, if one reads the context in which the Madison quote is found, one sees that his concern was for the primacy of the LANGUAGE of the Constitution. He was arguing for "THE SENSE IN WHICH the Constitution was accepted and ratified" and against reading it in light of "the changeable meaning of the words" -- against changes in "living languages" and against preferring the "modern sense" to the sense at the time of ratification. The language was not DETERMINED by the ratifiers.

Now, again, it is up to OFT to demonstrate that the "sense" of the words of the Constitution understood by the majority was somehow different than the sense understood by those who framed it. It seems highly unlikely that Madison would promote a sense different from his own – so he must have thought that the ratifiers shared his view.

The Madison quote has no relevance to the Declaration language debate, however. [And, if OFT says Jefferson's commentary on the Constitution is irrelevant, then Madison's commentary on the Declaration is similarly irrelevant.] Oh, wait, OFT decided at the end that Jefferson's commentary on the Constitution WAS relevant after all, because he thought he found a quote supporting his view.

I was shocked to find that OFT, who claims (if I remember correctly -- I apologize, if not) to be a Christian and concerned with what the Bible has to say, is a deconstructionist! He says that authorial intent "means nothing" -- is that how you approach Scripture? This is the root of the "living Constitution" nonsense and of the modern liberal assault on the Bible. The notion that what the author meant in what he wrote is irrelevant and that the author is "not responsible for the content" because we don't like what he intended is a view that I'm very surprised to see OFT ascribe to.

It also seems silly to me to suggest that the principles were "borrowed from Christian Church Fathers, and Christian Philosophers, mostly from the Protestant Reformation, taken from the Bible" when no one mentioned any of those sources at the Constitutional Convention or in the Federalist Papers. As for the Declaration, Jefferson told us the sources for its principles -- and he didn't mention any of these, either. He DID mention "Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c," but according to OFT, Jefferson didn't know what his sources were. Apparently, he was divinely inspired and it "came out of the Bible through the Reformers."

As per my argument on Jefferson's intention (which I maintain IS important), OFT sees Reformation principles, the secularist sees deist principles, the Jew sees Judaic principles, etc. Jefferson's intent has been realized beyond his wildest hopes.

OFT asks whether I think some notions are "of man." I did not say that they were -- I said that THEY (the Founders) identified philosophical and historical sources for them.

Restrictions on who could serve in government were STATE restrictions which applied only at the STATE level. Article VI of the Constitution expressly forbade religious tests for national office.

OFT says "the people pass laws." No, that would be a democracy. The U.S. is a republic in which the people's REPRESENTATIVES pass laws (and write public documents).

II Corinthians 3:3 has NOTHING to do with natural law. It simply says that the quality of the lives of the people to whom Paul ministered were his letter of commendation -- the affirmation of his ministry.

Romans 2:14-15 refers to God's moral law, not some "law of nature." I challenge OFT or Mr. Van Dyke to find "law of nature" or "Nature's God" in a concordance of the Bible -- you won't find either term because they're not biblical terms. The fact that Aquinas (with whom OFT probably has very little in common) or Calvin believed in a similar concept does not make it biblical or Christian.

Likewise, the fact that someone held a similar view centuries before does not make that view the source of a particular idea or principle. Plato and Confucius held some views similar to those of Jesus and the Apostle Paul -- does that make Plato and Confucius "sources" of Christianity? Of course not. One must show connection -- usually an affirmation from a writer that X or Y was a source. [As Jefferson did concerning the Declaration's principles, by the way -- he was under the apparently false impression that he knew from whence he got his ideas]

Gregg


Rowe: Let me add that Dr. Frazer above asserts that the Declaration was not ratified which is, in the context that he uses the term "ratified," correct. Unlike the US Constitution, the Declaration was NOT ratified by state ratifying conventions. The Continental Congress on 4 July, 1776 approved, that is voted in favor of the Declaration of Independence. And some sources (websites) use the specific term "ratified." But the DOI was NOT ratified in the same sense that the US Constitution was by state ratifying conventions.

22 comments:

bpabbott said...

With regards to Gregg Frazer's view of the non-material we are quite distant (to put it mildly). However, regarding his response ... we are practically kindred spirits ;-)

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, your USE OF CAPITAL LETTERS indicates I certainly got your goat, Dr. Frazer. I continue to find your term "theistic rationalist" to be idiosyncratic and unhelpful.


I do NOT claim "that the religious-political landscape of the Founding can be reduced to [the often private] thoughts of a half-dozen or so "key" Founders." I claim that the prevailing political theology undergirding the Founding was theistic rationalism and that it can be seen in the beliefs of a few key Founders and those of a large number of ministers in the churches of the period -- and in the Founding documents.



By "religious-political landscape of the Founding" I mean exactly what you mean by "prevailing political theology undergirding the Founding." I find an emphasis on the beliefs and influence of your "key" Founders to be question-begging as it permits only one conclusion, and your term for their beliefs to be vaguely descriptive at best, and far from definitive.

I'm sorry to throw a monkey-wrench at your life's work, but I believe your approach misses far too much, beginning with imago Dei as the [Judeo-]Christian source of the Founding's view of man all the way through the development of the Christian understanding of natural law, which is neither ancient per the Greeks nor "modern" per Hobbes and perhaps Locke, but uniquely Christian. And when you write,

"As Jefferson did concerning the Declaration's principles, by the way -- he was under the apparently false impression that he knew from whence he got his ideas,"

I reply, exactamundo, Dr. Frazer. The "key" Founders do not mention Christian sources because they were in the air they breathed, the water they drank.

[It is also postulated that the insertion of "their Creator" was at the behest of the drafting committee, and was not Jefferson's own idea. If so, it lends support to the counterargument that the "prevailing political theology undergirding the Founding" was not that of only a few "key" Founders. Regardless, he writes later, in 1782, "Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?," as you're aware.]

As for questioning your motives and objectivity as a scholar because you're apparently a professed evangelical Christian, Gregg, that is out of bounds. Please accept my sincere apology.

Jonathan Rowe said...

His use of caps actually helps me because they are easier to reproduce from email or Word to blogger than bold or italics.

Our Founding Truth said...

I claim that the prevailing political theology undergirding the Founding was theistic rationalism and that it can be seen in the beliefs of a few key Founders>

There are so many holes in this post, I don't know where to start.

Theology is left to the states. You or anyone else in this country would be the first ever to claim the states formed theistic rationalism as it's religion, it's ridiculous.

Orthodox Christianity can be seen in MANY more "key founders" so Christianity is the prevailing theology. What kind of rationale is that?

Quite the contrary, what I actually said (readers can go back and see) is that there are numerous definitions of the term "Christian">

No, there are not many definitions of Christianity.

I confined my work to the definition held by American Christians in the 18th century as put forward in their creeds and confessions.>

What creeds and confessions? Certainly not church creeds. A very SMALL minority believed unitarianism was Christianity. They held it secret, showing it was the minority.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

Not that you necessarily deserve a response or that I will respond in full. But....

Theology is left to the states. You or anyone else in this country would be the first ever to claim the states formed theistic rationalism as it's [sic] religion, it's ridiculous.

It's ridiculous because Frazer doesn't claim it. He discussing the theology that drove the US's federal Founding. And as a matter of positive law, I think it's blindingly obvious that the First Amendment and Art. VI. Cl. 3 demonstrate there is no "official" FEDERAL theology.

The states by the way didn't form anything concrete together because they were a mixed bag. You've already seen how at the very least Virginia was NOT officially Christian after Jefferson's VA Statute on Religious Liberty; but instead you just believe what you want and read things into record that aren't there (for instance, claiming "Jesus Christ" as the SOURCE of the Virginia Statute's rights when Jefferson himself and those who passed the Statute through REFUSED to do this and told us exactly why we SHOULDN'T claim Jesus Christ as the source).

And by 1833, all states chose "disestablishment" without the need to fight a civil war over it.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon, just to show everyone that most of what you write on here is incorrect, I'm going to post your words from two weeks ago, so everyone can see. Your arrogance cries out of your false understanding of a basic document like the Virginia Statute:

The words of Thomas Jefferson, militant unitarian and drafter of the Virginia Statute on Religious Liberty explaining exactly WHY "Almighty God" was purposefully NOT defined in orthodox Trinitarian terms in said statute:

Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word "Jesus Christ," so that it should read, "a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;" the insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and Infidel of every denomination.

http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_religions45.html

You are un-freakin' believable, OFT.>

This is your best one yet, so I had to paste the entire post.

If you read the post again, and slowly, Jefferson is saying that not just Christianity is protected, but so is infidelity, and mohammedism.

"within the mantle of its protection"

Not who the grantor is (Lord), of rights. The Lord is Jesus Christ, NOT A HINDOO, period! The identity of Virginia's Holy Author of religion was Christ.

Since you fail to learn, the rest of your post is not worth the time. If anyone else has something to add, I'd love to hear it.

I think it's blindingly obvious that the First Amendment and Art. VI. Cl. 3 demonstrate there is no "official" FEDERAL theology.>

Now this, right. The Federal theology is Christian, with neutrality as far as establishment of a particular Christian sect, as Thomas Jefferson explains:

[T]he clause of the Constitution which, while it secured the freedom of the press, covered also the freedom of religion, had given to the clergy a very favorite hope of obtaining an establishment of a particular form of Christianity through the United States; and as every sect believes its own form the true one, ever one perhaps hoped for his own, but especially the Episcopalians and Congregationalists. The returning good sense of our country threatens abortion to their hopes and they believe that any portion of power confided to me will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly.

to Dr. Benjamin Rush on Sept. 23, 1800.

Jefferson didn't include the other pagan religions because they had no chance of establishment, evidenced by only Christian sects in the state ratification debates.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

I've explained this to you before but your obtuseness persists indefinitely. It's clear that Founders intended Free Exercise to apply to all, NOT just Christian sects.

The First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The "thereof" in the Free Exercise Clause relates back to the word "religion" in the Establishment Clause. Two different clauses, but only ONE use of the word "religion." It is logically impossible for the word "religion" used in only one place in the First Amendment (but for two clauses) to have two different meanings, meaning "Christian only" in one place and "religion generally" in another.

The term "religion" in the First Amendment means just what is says "religion" not "Christianity."

Jefferson's example does NOTHING to limit the term religion to sects that had to be Christian or to in any other way privilege Christianity or make it into some kind of defacto federal theology.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Here is George Washington explaining that the First Amendment protects religion in general not Christianity in particular. He notes to the Jews, THEY are protected under the First Amendment.

This perfectly accords with Jefferson's commentaries on the Virginia Statute. You can attach natural rights to a generically defined God and still grant ALL religion rights. But if you try to specifically invoke Jesus Christ as the guarantor of rights some will get the message that Christianity is to have greater rights than other religions. Therefore DON'T do it.

And OFT does EXACTLY what Jefferson said the politicians who passed the Virginia Statute DID NOT DO (invoke Jesus Christ as the guarantor of natural rights), for the VERY REASON Jefferson said they DIDN'T DO IT (that it would intimate Christianity gets more rights than other religions).

http://www.ashbrook.org/library/18/washington/hebrewcongregation.html

Our Founding Truth said...

The First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The "thereof" in the Free Exercise Clause relates back to the word "religion" in the Establishment Clause. Two different clauses, but only ONE use of the word "religion." It is logically impossible for the word "religion" used in only one place in the First Amendment (but for two clauses) to have two different meanings, meaning "Christian only" in one place and "religion generally" in another.

The term "religion" in the First Amendment means just what is says "religion" not "Christianity."

Jefferson's example does NOTHING to limit the term religion to sects that had to be Christian or to in any other way privilege Christianity or make it into some kind of defacto federal theology.>

The Founding Fathers; The Father of the Bill of Rights" and our greatest judge, Joseph Story, disagree with you; as usual:

George Mason's original version of the Establishment Clause shows that it was directed against preference of one religious denomination over another:

"That Religion or the Duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by Reason and Conviction, not by Force or violence, and therefore all men have an equal, natural, and unalienable Right to the free Exercise of Religion according to the Dictates of Conscience, and that no particular religious Sect or Society of Christians ought to be favored or established by Law in preference to others."

And Joseph Story:

"CH. XLIV, 728, Section 1871: The real object of the First Amendment was not to countenance, much less to advance Mohammedanism, or Judaism, or infidelity, by prostrating Christianity, but to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects..."

The establishment clause prohibited a form of Christianity, the free exercise clause is just that, free. The people never thought for one minute that hinduism could be the National Church. You're incredible!

I can see you telling Mason, "but it's impossible?

Jonathan Rowe said...

With respect to a logical construction of the US Constitution, my comment stands: It is logically impossible for "religion" to have two different meanings in the one place it is invoked in the First Amendment, regardless of whether they thought for one minute that Hinduism could be the National Church. And you are wrong. I can pull out records from the ratification debates where they EXPLICITLY noted that "religion" could mean "not Christian" [specifically from the "no religious test clause" debate).

George Mason's commentary do not invoke the proper construction of the First Amendment.

Raven said...

Oh I LOOOVE a good fight! I move that we stick Rowe and Truth in a locked cage and let them fight to the death! That way, if Rowe wins, OFT will be able to meet his god and realize just how unbelievably stupid his fundamentalist B.S. views really are. My guess is that the talking snake will be there to greet him in person!!!

Now, if Truth wins, Rowe will be able to find his everlasting soul burning in hell for all eternity. After all, that is where he is heading...according to the beliefs of most here. But there is a consolation prize, Rowe. At least you will be able to hang with the likes of George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bernie Mac, Thomas Jefferson, and all the other "heathens" that refused to believe that the Bible is PERFECT!!! OFT on the other hand will be with the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson (when his number is up), and the other boring stiffs. Sounds to me like hell is a MUCH better prospect! I'll be seeing you there, Rowe. Save me a seat at the Carlin comedy show!!!

Jonathan Rowe said...

LOL.

I like fighting with the pen, not fists or guns & knives.

Our Founding Truth said...

I can pull out records from the ratification debates where they EXPLICITLY noted that "religion" could mean "not Christian" [specifically from the "no religious test clause" debate).>

Then let's see them.

George Mason's commentary do not invoke the proper construction of the First Amendment.>

Dude, you are classic.

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT,

If I am not mistaken Mason's thoughts relate to the Virginia Bill of Rights that were lated superseded by Jefferson's VA Statute.

Our Founding Truth said...

If I am not mistaken Mason's thoughts relate to the Virginia Bill of Rights that were lated superseded by Jefferson's VA Statute.>

You're mistaken as usual.

Our Founding Truth said...

I claim that the prevailing political theology undergirding the Founding was theistic rationalism>

This is impossible Dr. Frazer, because you would have to prove the MAJORITY of people disbelieved the supernatural, which for you, is a no-win situation.

and that it can be seen in the beliefs of a few key Founders and those of a large number of ministers in the churches of the period -- and in the Founding documents.>

This statement pushes against all the evidence as well. First, I already shot down your "key founders" ordeal. Rafifiers of instruments are more KEY than drafters of instruments. In Madison and Jefferson's own words, Jefferson excludes himself from being a "key founder."

Not a large number of minsters, but a small minority of ministers, which hurts your cause too.

"The founding documents" hurts you again, for, LONANG is proven by David, to Locke as being the God of the Bible. So this God is also the same God in the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

Besides, the Declaration was never ratified, so there is no ratifier perspective.>

Sorry my friend, I will believe Samuel Adams over anyone else. I assume you understand what Adams means when he claims the DOI was ratified?

then I would point out to you that Madison refused, when asked, to affirm Jasper Adams' contention that Christianity was the foundation of American civil, legal, and political institutions.>

Where did he claim that? He never denied anything, but didn't answer the question. And you are forgeting Jefferson believed ratifiers were more important than drafters, so that doesn't help your case.

Third, if one reads the context in which the Madison quote is found, one sees that his concern was for the primacy of the LANGUAGE of the Constitution. He was arguing for "THE SENSE IN WHICH the Constitution was accepted and ratified" and against reading it in light of "the changeable meaning of the words" -- against changes in "living languages" and against preferring the "modern sense" to the sense at the time of ratification.>

That's only one part of it.

The language was not DETERMINED by the ratifiers.>

You are wrong sir! The language can ONLY be determined by the ratifiers, as Jefferson and Madison claimed. I bet I could find the others claim the same thing.

Now, again, it is up to OFT to demonstrate that the "sense" of the words of the Constitution understood by the majority was somehow different than the sense understood by those who framed it.>

No, you have it backwards. Since ratifiers are more important than drafters, subjective intentions of drafters mean nothing. I advise you to read Bork on this.

It seems highly unlikely that Madison would promote a sense different from his own – so he must have thought that the ratifiers shared his view.>

As Bork proves in his book, subjective intentions don't mean anything. You're complicating things by leaving the ratifiers out of the equation.

The Madison quote has no relevance to the Declaration language debate,>

Only the majority viewpoint is relevant.

[And, if OFT says Jefferson's commentary on the Constitution is irrelevant, then Madison's commentary on the Declaration is similarly irrelevant.]>

You're right.

Oh, wait, OFT decided at the end that Jefferson's commentary on the Constitution WAS relevant after all, because he thought he found a quote supporting his view.>

It supports the majority view, which happens to be my view.

He says that authorial intent "means nothing" -- is that how you approach Scripture?>

No. The Bible is inspired, our founding documents are not.

The notion that what the author meant in what he wrote is irrelevant and that the author is "not responsible for the content" because we don't like what he intended is a view that I'm very surprised to see OFT ascribe to.>

Authorial intent is secondary, compared to what the people believed, so in actuality it is irrelevant.

It also seems silly to me to suggest that the principles were "borrowed from Christian Church Fathers, and Christian Philosophers, mostly from the Protestant Reformation, taken from the Bible" when no one mentioned any of those sources at the Constitutional Convention or in the Federalist Papers.>

It's not silly because all those guys read the Bible, and church fathers everyday, so they didn't need to source them.

As for the Declaration, Jefferson told us the sources for its principles -- and he didn't mention any of these, either. He DID mention "Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c," but according to OFT, Jefferson didn't know what his sources were.>

LONANG is from the Bible, and Locke and Sidney knew it.

OFT asks whether I think some notions are "of man." I did not say that they were -- I said that THEY (the Founders) identified philosophical and historical sources for them.>

Unalienable rights come from God, in the Bible, not a philosophy. Paul hammers philosophy.

II Corinthians 3:3 has NOTHING to do with natural law. It simply says that the quality of the lives of the people to whom Paul ministered were his letter of commendation -- the affirmation of his ministry.>

Wrong again. I will believe Hooker, Pufendorf, Locke, Tertulian, and the rest over anyone.

Romans 2:14-15 refers to God's moral law, not some "law of nature." I challenge OFT or Mr. Van Dyke to find "law of nature" or "Nature's God" in a concordance of the Bible -- you won't find either term because they're not biblical terms.>

You're probably one of those guys who says the rapture isn't in the bible because the word isn't there. Poor scholarship. Again, Hooker, Aquinas, etc. have you beat.

The fact that Aquinas (with whom OFT probably has very little in common) or Calvin believed in a similar concept does not make it biblical or Christian.>

No, guy, they sourced the verses.

Jonathan Rowe said...

Ooops. I stand corrected. That was language that Mason proposed not from the Virginia Bill of Rights.

In any event, it was still not the language found in the US Constitution which says noting about "Christian sects."

Jonathan Rowe said...

OFT:

I doubt you've ever read a word that Aquinas ever wrote.

Our Founding Truth said...

Jon:

I doubt you've ever read a word that Aquinas ever wrote.

I have read some of his work, in spite of what you say. I never said I was an expert on him or even an authority. He isn't high on the list by the framers.
I have him citing Romans 2 for Law in the heart, not Aristotle.

Jonathan Rowe said...

If you knew anything about Aquinas you'd know his distinguishing mark was to incorporate Aristotelean philosophy into Christian teachings under the rubric of the "natural law."

bpabbott said...

Jon: "In any event, it was still not the language found in the US Constitution which says noting about "Christian sects.""

Nor did Mason direclty participate in the framing of the Bill of Rights.

OFT, your distortions and misrepresentations are embarassing to read. Have you no shame?

Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm sorry, but I've had enough of this nonsense and cannot let it pass. I'm unhappy that Jon and OFT feel obliged to insult each other lately, but at least they're carrying on a substantive conversation in between the volleys.

Whereas you, Mr. Abbott, are not a legitimate participant in the discussion, and are therefore kindly invited to butt out. You have added nothing around here but ill will, and are currently violating the internet etiquette against "ganging up." And even if OFT were wrong most of the time, he's immeasurably more valuable to this blog because you are right zero percent of the time, as you do no research and show no proof of even clicking on the links provided. You simply have no standing to insult anyone here.

As for your rare and remarkable injection of fact, that George Mason didn't directly work on the Bill of Rights, that's misleading when taken out of context: George Mason is called the "Father of the Bill of Rights" because he refused to sign the original constitution because of the lack of one, and it was eventually based on his own drafting of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Once again, you are some mixture of wrong and irrelevant on this rare occasion you venture toward something substantive.

The very thing you charge OFT with, of course. And you have the nerve to charge others with hypocrisy? You've been showing us how it's done, brother.

You haven't earned the right to sit as judge or jury of anything or anyone, Ben. If you want the right to insult people around here, which Jon and OFT have earned, and having been giving as good as they get, first get in the game yourself. You have a good mind. You could be a plus.