Tuesday, January 22, 2013

FOX's Hannity Show Hits Snag with Quotes of the Founders

     What is it with Sean Hannity and the producers of his show on the Fox News Network? We know they are pro-rights, no doubt about that. Twice in recent weeks, while discussing Second Amendment infringement issues related to gun control, Sean has presented quotes of Founders that were not accurate.
     First, on the Friday evening, January 4 Hannity show, he used a quote of George Washington regarding firearms and liberty teeth that is undoubtedly bogus. Reliable historical evidence that it is actually a quote of Washington has never been found. If anyone has a verifiable source for it, please provide it.
     Then on the Tuesday, January 8 show, Sean used a George Mason quote that was inaccurate. Sean quoted Mason asking "What is the militia?" in the Virginia Ratifying Convention. It should be noted that Attorney General of the U.S. John Ashcroft used the same inaccurate quote when he adopted the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment as the official understanding of the Justice Department during the Bush Administration.
     Period sources indicate Mason was actually asking "Who are the militia?", and that he went on to answer his own question, "They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers." [The Origin of the Second Amendment, p.430] This may be considered an overly picky point, but the Founders understood the militia to be the people (who, they), not an abstract entity (what).
     George Mason was, in fact, the dynamo behind the Ratification Era push for a Federal Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment. Readers can find out a lot more about George Mason's development of Second Amendment language at my post, Root Causes of Never-Ending Second Amendment Dispute - Part 20, which examines essential American history relating to Mason that is ignored in the professional historians' Heller case brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.
     Those who know me will vouch for my interest in quotes of the Founders, and my efforts to make accurate versions of them available to everyone. Of what value are inaccurate "quotes"? They can be misleading, and they tarnish the reputation of those who present them.
     Back to Hannity. If someone reading this has contact with Sean or any of the show producers, please suggest that in the future it would be beneficial if they check the accuracy of the Founders' quotes they intent to present on the show.

1 comment:

  1. "The trouble with Internet quotes is that many are not accurate." -- President Abraham Lincoln.