January 10, 2011

Nasty and personal

Naive nostalgia about how supposedly high-minded political debate used to be doesn't help to raise the quality of the national discourse. The language used by our Founding Fathers during election campaigns--you know, the ones who wrote and ratified the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights--was as vitriolic as anything spoken or written today. Those men knew, first hand, that there would be no need to expressly protect the right to free speech in a democracy if the majority of voters didn't find that speech expressly offensive in the first place.

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# posted by Blogger Kate Woodbury
1/11/2011 8:35 AM   
I love this! I've been thinking about how I could use it in my folklore class--like I use "Too Late to Apologize."

I think the connection is that new endeavors, including nations, have a period of creating origin stories. For the U.S., that period was the 19th century and the origin stories included the Boston Massacre, Washington and the Cherry Tree, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, etc.

Part of the purpose for origin stories seems to be create a sense of unity, but part of it must also be to sacralize the past. So, the Founding Fathers become superheroes.

Of course, then they went through a period of being dirt.

And now they are back to being superheroes.

It would be nice if people could stop in the middle and just say, "Oh, they were human."