Creationist Wisdom #158: Christine O’Donnell

We present to you, dear reader, a letter-to-the-editor titled Lack of tolerance, which appears in the Ventura County Star, published in Camarillo, California.

Today’s letter-writer is defending Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for the US Senate in Delaware. We’ve written about her before. See Christine O’Donnell: Not That Bad, Really.

We don’t copy entire newspaper articles, but our practice is different for letters-to-the-editor. We assume that such letters are the work of their authors, not the newspaper, and that the letter-writers want their views publicized to the maximum extent possible.

However, we get the impression that the Ventura County Star doesn’t permit even that. Therefore we’ll give you only a sample of the letter’s contents, which is fair use for non-commercial purposes. We probably won’t get sued for that. If they complain, we’ll delete this post. Everyone’s so touchy these days. See Massive Legal Problems Threaten Blogosphere.

The letter was written in response to an O’Donnell-bashing column by Eugene Robinson: Looney-tunes, and that’s not up for debate. Robinson says “This isn’t politics, it’s insanity.” Today’s letter bashes Robinson and defends O’Donnell. Here it comes, with bold added by us:

I would like to know where Mr. Robinson was educated. Does he even know what the scientific method is? By definition, one must be able to test through experimentation a hypothesis to use the scientific method. So far, no one has been able to prove macro-evolution through experimentation.

To believe that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” seems far more plausible to me than that everything came from nothing; but neither can be proved through the scientific method. It doesn’t seem to me that giving children all the theories and options to make their own decisions, rather than forcing ones own ideology on them, is making the educational system “dumber.”

That’s all we can copy here, but it’s enough to give you the general idea. Christine O’Donnell has a fan — big time. The rest of it, and the letter-writer’s name and city, can be seen at the link to the Ventura County Star.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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51 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #158: Christine O’Donnell

  1. He’s just upset because the CSC cancelled Discoveroid’s Darwin’s Dilemma and he had already purchased his tickets.

  2. In other op-ed news, there’s a NYT one on primate morality that specifically talks about creationism and ID. The writer doesn’t have Olivia’s panache but it isn’t bad. Link.

  3. Gabriel Hanna

    I swear, more harm is done through science by well-meaning popularizations of The Scientific Method (TM).

    You know what I was taught in school? That you start with a hypothesis, that gets promoted to a theory, which gets promoted to a law. Promoted by whom? I imagined a secretive conclave of eminent scientists but it was never made clear.

  4. Gabriel Hanna says:

    You know what I was taught in school? That you start with a hypothesis, that gets promoted to a theory, which gets promoted to a law.

    Me too. It was quite some time until I learned better. Lotta linguistic confusion out there.

  5. Gabriel Hanna

    SC, did you know Dick Feynman once said that electrons aren’t real? I don’t know how seriously he intended that statement to be taken, but he went on to say that if you assume there are such things as electrons a whole lot of phenomena can be explained.

    I have always liked Popper’s “conjecture and refutation” description. It is true that this is an incomplete description of what science is, but I think it captures the distinction between science and non-science very well.

  6. You know what I was taught in school? That you start with a hypothesis, that gets promoted to a theory, which gets promoted to a law.

    Well, first the theory goes to committee
    And it’ll sit there and wait
    While a few key Congressmen discuss and debate
    Whether they should let it be a law….

    Oh wait, that’s Schoolhouse Rock on government. We need more stuff like this for general science concepts, like the classic “Victim of Gravity.”

  7. Gabriel Hanna says:

    I have always liked Popper’s “conjecture and refutation” description.

    It’ll never catch on, but I describe an hypothesis as a testable explanation (of objectively verifiable phenomena), and a theory as a tested explanation (of the same).

  8. Gabriel Hanna

    Oh wait, that’s Schoolhouse Rock on government.

    Parodied so well on The Simpsons. Schoolhouse Rock was described as “Amendment to Be” was about flag-burning–and is it hard now to see what THAT fuss was all about, or what?

    Bart: What the hell is this?
    Lisa: It’s one of those campy ’70s throwbacks that appeals to
    Generation Xers.
    Bart: We need another Vietnam to thin out their ranks a little.

    Amendment: [spoken] I’m not garbage.

    I’m an amendment to be
    Yes, an amendment to be
    And I’m hoping that they’ll ratify me
    There’s a lot of flag burners
    Who have got too much freedom
    I wanna make it legal
    For policemen
    To beat ’em
    ‘Cause there’s limits to our liberties
    ‘Least I hope and pray that there are
    ‘Cause those liberal freaks go too far.

    Boy: [spoken] But why can’t we just make a law against
    flag burning?
    Amendment: [spoken] Because that law would be unconstitutional.
    But if we _changed_ the Constitution…
    Boy: [spoken] Then we could make all sorts of crazy laws!
    Amendment: [spoken] Now you’re catching on!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_the_Violence_Died

    My favorite Simpsons parody was “Paint Your Wagon”–in the parody the movie was literally about painting a wagon.

  9. Gabriel Hanna

    @SC:

    and a theory as a tested explanation (of the same).

    Except that there’s no way to do that…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction

  10. The letter writer: “It doesn’t seem to me that giving children all the theories and options to make their own decisions, rather than forcing ones own ideology on them, is making the educational system ‘dumber’.”

    Of course not. But misrepresenting science to children in a manner that makes it harder for them to make their own decisions does.. And that’s exactly what anti-evolution activists pursue relentlessly.

    By conveniently omitting any mention of when “in the beginning” was the letter writer can be reasonably suspected of not just having been deprived of a fair education, but possibly of willingly depriving others of one. Anyone who truly believes God’s Commandment against bearing false witness knows that teaching only that which has earned the right to be taught as science does not “force any ideologies” by any stretch of the imagination. And even if some parents honestly misunderstand what it takes to earn the right to be taught, they are still perfectly free to let their childern be misled on their own dime.

    Tell me again who’s doing the “censoring”.

  11. Gabriel Hanna says: “Except that there’s no way to do that…”

    I said tested, not proven.

  12. Curm says: “I said tested, not proven.”

    That has to be repeated time and time again. The ID/creationist wobble-heads keep demanding ‘proof’ as if they know what they’re talking about.

    T

  13. Gabriel Hanna

    I said tested, not proven.

    One test or a thousand, makes no difference.

  14. Gabriel Hanna says: “One test or a thousand, makes no difference.”

    What’s your point?

  15. Gabriel Hanna

    My point is that a test of a hypothesis can’t make you more certain that the hypothesis is true.

  16. Gabriel Hanna says:

    My point is that a test of a hypothesis can’t make you more certain that the hypothesis is true.

    I said a theory is a tested explanation. The more tests it passes, the greater our confidence. It’s accepted as a successful theory, but only until it fails. You know this stuff. No one is talking about proof, and I never mentioned “truth.” I ain’t Plato.

  17. Gabriel Hanna

    The more tests it passes, the greater our confidence.

    On what basis? It’s somewhat like the difference between anecdotes and data. It doesn’t matter how many people drank my Hydrostatic Elixir and were cured of their hangnails and psoriasis. Without some kind of control population, I can give as many anecdotes as I want and you haven’t learned anything.

    With the laws that govern the universe, there isn’t any control population possible. We only have the one case. A theory that always passes every test is useless–it might be a very good theory; it might be a very vague one that can’t even in principle be refuted, or it just might be that you haven’t found the right experiment yet. For example, try to tell the difference between Newtonian and relativistic physics with a ruler and a stopwatch.

    Consider too, how would you calculate the odds on a penny coming up heads if it always comes up heads? Or (and this is more like science) how do would you calculate it if you could only flip it once?

    The idea that passing tests confirms a theory was exploded almost 300 years ago–during the Enlightenment, as it turns out.

  18. You’re having one of your “Grumpy Gabe” days. We’ve been there before.

  19. SC, would you have made Socrates drink the hemlock? Asimov would have.

    I do think it’s important to know how we know things and not rely on Jack Chick epistemology.

  20. Look….this argument that American government was set up to elect the “common man” to run the show is just hogwash. All of the elcted representatives that set the country up were wealthy well educated landowners and businessmen. And that was a really GOOD idea.

    You dont want big thick Jack McClod the village idiot running the place do you?

    So… O’Donnel….hypocritical lying village idiot or tomorrows senator?

  21. Frank: The letter writer: “It doesn’t seem to me that giving children all the theories and options to make their own decisions, rather than forcing ones own ideology on them, is making the educational system ‘dumber’.”

    Of course not. But misrepresenting science to children in a manner that makes it harder for them to make their own decisions does.. And that’s exactly what anti-evolution activists pursue relentlessly.

    Actually Frank, I think the letter writer is just wrong right out of the gate. It can make kids dumber to provide kids with options, in two ways. Consider QM: we only typically teach Shroedinger’s form, even though Heisenberg’s matrix mechanic form is just as good (its mathematically identical, always leading to the same solution). Why is that? Well, the likelihood of kids screwing up if they are taught two different ways of doing the same thing increases; they may confuse the two methods. And it takes time out of the classroom that they could use to expand their knowledge in other ways – you have just spent 2 months teaching the same thing twice instead of teaching it for 1 month and then moving on. Physicists DO teach and learn other ways of manipulating QM at high educational levels, but not early on.

    So even if we assumed for sake of argument that creationism had some legitimacy (which it doesn’t), the letter writer would still be wrong in this. There should be some really good pedagogical reason to teach ‘alternatives’ at the basic H.S. level before you do so, because of the potential for confusion as well as the additional time it takes – both of which can result in dumber kids.

  22. eric: The letter writer is wrong in so many ways that it’s hard to decide which is the wrongest way. I’d mention that they don’t actually have an “alternative” to teach the kids. “Something may be wrong with science” is not an alternative. Nor is “god can do anything that he wants and we shouldn’t ask why or how he decided to make life look like descent with modification is involved.”

  23. gjhanna asks: “SC, would you have made Socrates drink the hemlock?”

    I don’t think so. Would you have threatened Galileo with the rack?

  24. Benjamin Franklin

    Signor Curmudgeon,

    Given your stance on those who fail to recognize and understand the separation of church and state. (see your post “Ken Ham Unhinged: Creationism & Theocracy Too”), are you now reconsidering your endorsement of that fluffernutter, Christine O’Donnell?

    I understand your desire for a change in direction in Congress, but I fear for our country if enough O’Donnells are forning our policy. If Karl Marx himself were running against her for the Senate in Delaware, it would be more reponsible to vote for the original “bearded Marxist”, than a cutie-pie theocrat who can not, or will not comprehend the importance of an eternal wall of separation between churhc and state.

  25. Benjamin Franklin says:

    I understand your desire for a change in direction in Congress, but I fear for our country if enough O’Donnells are forning our policy.

    Verily, these are the times that try men’s souls. I don’t “endorse” the cutie pie. I merely say that a vote for her isn’t unthinkable. It all depends on one’s desire to end the events of the past two years. The next two years will be another problem.

  26. Gabriel Hanna

    a cutie-pie theocrat who can not, or will not comprehend the importance of an eternal wall of separation between churhc and state.

    Let’s leave aside the sexist portion of your commentary–if the Constitution had this eternal wall of separation, self-evidently necessary, why did states have established churches and religious tests well into the 19th century?

    It’s because the First Amendment was seen then as a restriction on the FEDERAL government only. It wasn’t until much later that we decided to interpret it differently.

    You don’t have to worry–for one, O’Donnell is not getting elected. For two, the separation of church and state, or the teaching of creation in school, is not subject that a Senator has any power over.

    And if you’re worried about idiots in the government, what rock have you been living under? That ship has sailed long ago. My Senator said that Osama bin Ladin builds daycare centers and that’s why he is loved in the Muslim world. And she is one of the highest-ranking Democrats, currently up for reelection. (I’m holding on to my Washington state residency just long enough vote against her one more time.)

  27. Gabriel Hanna

    A later clarification from O’Donnell, if any one cares what she thinks:

    “In this morning’s WDEL debate, Christine O’Donnell was not questioning the concept of separation of church and state as subsequently established by the courts. She simply made the point that the phrase appears nowhere in the Constitution. It was in fact Chris Coons who demonstrated his ignorance of our country’s founding documents when he could not name the five freedoms contained in the First Amendment.”

    Now she does think it’s Constitutional for public school districts to teach creationism in school if they want, which is wrong, according to the courts.

  28. Gabriel Hanna says:

    It’s because the First Amendment was seen then as a restriction on the FEDERAL government only. It wasn’t until much later that we decided to interpret it differently.

    True. Massachusetts was the last state to give up its established church, and not until the 1840s. But these days, most states have something similar to the Establishment Clause in their state constitutions. The creationist cutie pie ought to know that Delaware has such a provision. See sections 1 and 2 of Article ! of their constitution right here.

  29. Gabriel Hanna

    The creationist cutie pie ought to know that Delaware has such a provision.

    True, but the question she was asked was about the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution, not Delaware’s. That’s why she said “Separation of church isn’t in there”, and it’s not. It’s in letter by Jefferson, who didn’t write the First Amendment.

    People like to quote Jefferson selectively, to quote-mine him if you will. Jefferson said a lot of things, for example he didn’t believe the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power of judicial review :

    To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem [good justice is broad jurisdiction], and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.

    The people quoting Jefferson to show that O’Donnell doesn’t know about separation of church and state would never quote Jefferson in defense of O’Donnell if she said judicial review isn’t the Constitution as written. But it isn’t, any more than “separation of church and state” is.

  30. Gabriel Hanna

    OT Asimov and the hemlock:

    Socrates was not ignorant and the questions were not naive, and his method of procedure is known as “Socratic irony”. You may well believe that those who suffered under his bland lash did not grow to love him, and I suspect he fully earned final draught of hemlock.

    That is not as strong a statement as I remembered it being. But it’s not a bad thing to have to defend your assumptions from time to time, even ones we are all pretty sure are pretty solid.

  31. Gabriel Hanna says:

    True, but the question she was asked was about the First Amendment to the Federal Constitution, not Delaware’s. That’s why she said “Separation of church isn’t in there”, and it’s not. It’s in letter by Jefferson, who didn’t write the First Amendment.

    Yeah, but Madison — who drafted the First Amendment — liked Jefferson’s description. Madison used it himself in a couple of letters. I wrote about that here: Ken Ham Unhinged: Creationism & Theocracy Too.

    Addendum: I see we had somewhat the same conversation in the comments to that old thread.

  32. Gabriel Hanna

    Yeah, but Madison — who drafted the First Amendment — liked Jefferson’s description.

    Portions of the Bill of Rights which explicitly restricted STATE governments were considered by Congress and rejected in 1791, so it’s not like Congress didn’t know what it was voting for. It was voting for a restriction of Federal power, and voted against similar restrictions on state power.

    And that kind of proves the point, that the people who say reflexively “What an idiot” about statements like O’Donnell’s don’t know what they are talking about, just like if they reacted to creationism with “OF COURSE we evolved from monkeys!”

  33. Gabriel Hanna

    Here, for example, you can see a bunch of people making fun of Sarah Palin for saying “party like it’s 1773”.

    http://perfunction.typepad.com/perfunction/2010/10/historic-illiteracy-idiot-sarah-palin-party-like-its-1773-after-the-election.html

    It’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, but the things you think you know. And that includes Chris Coons, who couldn’t say what is in the First Amendment except “separation of church and state”.

  34. Gabriel Hanna

    But I don’t think people are learning much history in school these days. The Revolution started in 1775, not 1776, and the Boston Tea Party of course was in 1773, and Boston was occupied by the British in 1768. But the half-educated so convinced of their own smartness don’t need to know any of that before they start making fun of people.

  35. Nice Mandelbrot Memorial avatar, GH ….

  36. Gabriel Hanna

    longshadow, you’re very close. It’s the Newton’s method solution set for x^3 = 1. Got to keep the physics connection. I can’t just pick ANY fractal.

    I think Newton would have been delighted by complex numbers, and maybe his nutty religious ideas could have accommodated them.

  37. Curmie– Earlier in the discussion, Gabe was talking about the problem of induction: (basically, no matter how many times an event is observed, it cannot be certain to happen until it is observed again– Hume is famous for discussing the problem of induction)

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/

    Also, I have no comment whatsoever about the political discussion on this page. None. Whatsoever. At all. Not even a little.

    (lol)

  38. LRA says: “Earlier in the discussion, Gabe was talking about the problem of induction”

    Gabe and I go way back on induction. In this old thread, where he made his debut here, we were discussing it: The Mind of a Creationist — Inductophobia. His behavior has been consistent, and so is mine, but he’s not allowed to draw any conclusions from that.

  39. LOL! Got it. 😀

  40. A couple of other blogs have already mentioned her recent debate against Coons at Widener Law School, in which she explicitly talks about how local school boards shoud be allow to teach creationism (also regurgitating the trope that the contstitution never mentions any separation between church and state).

    Will we see a Curmudgeonly treatment of it? I hope so….

  41. eric asks: “Will we see a Curmudgeonly treatment of it? I hope so….”

    Probably not. There are several dozen news stories about it. It seems to be everywhere. There’s really not much to say. She’s a ditzo. But these are extra-ordinary times, so I still say it’s not unthinkable to vote for her.

  42. Gabriel Hanna

    in which she explicitly talks about how local school boards shoud be allow to teach creationism

    Which I mentioned above…

    (also regurgitating the trope that the contstitution never mentions any separation between church and state)

    Which is true. You don’t get to pretend history didn’t happen because you don’t like it. We interpret the Constitution now to imply this, but when the First Amendment was written and adopted this interpretation was explicitly rejected by those who adopted the First Amendment, and the continuing establishment of churches in America continued nearly fifty years afterward, which means that the people who wrote and voted to adopt the Constitution didn’t think it meant what you say it means.

  43. Gabriel Hanna

    Gabe and I go way back on induction.

    There’s a reason I make a big deal about it. I needed some general education requirements and I happened to hit on philosophy of science. I had had one philosophy class and I didn’t take the subject very seriously; I just smugly assumed the infinite superiority of science over philosophy.

    When the problem of induction came up I was totally blindsided, I had literally never imagined that there could be such a problem, and in my lame attempts to defend induction I got my ass handed to me, in front of the whole class. I don’t mind looking stupid in front of people, so I kept going to the class and I tried harder to understand what they were talking about rather than just assuming that philosophy of science was just a waste of time. It was a good experience. You can’t just go up to people who’ve been working on something for years and just tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about, you’ve got to take the time to understand what they think. Otherwise you might get embarrassed.

  44. Gabriel Hanna

    Incidentally, the news reports on what O’Donnell said at the debate are now being rewritten:

    http://patterico.com/2010/10/20/wapoap-caught-revising-the-o%E2%80%99donnell-story-without-issuing-a-correction/

  45. I watched the video. I heard what she said, and what he said. I’d like to meet Ms O’Donnell and explain that the words, “You have the right to own a gun” are also not found in the Constitution.

  46. BTW, I should have added that I’m not a fan of her opponent. He’d ineffectual and I don’t know what kind of a job he’ll do, but at least he’s not crazy.

  47. Gabriel Hanna

    @Ellie:

    It’s not the same argument. In 1791 the Second Amendment was considered to mean that individuals have a right to own and carry guns. In 2010 that is also what the Second Amendment is considered to mean by the courts.

    But in 1791 the First Amendment restricted only the Federal government. That’s why it says “Congress shall make no law”. And if there was any doubt, the documented existence of state churches, and the rejection by Congress of Amendments that would have disestablished them, would remove it. The First Amendment has its current meaning because so many other laws have grown up in the mean time, and there have been subsequent Amendments that modify its applicability.

  48. Benjamin Franklin

    Gabriel Hanna,

    You wrote;

    “…the people who wrote and voted to adopt the Constitution didn’t think it meant what you say it means.”

    I think a further point is that the people who developed, framed, and wrote the Constitution, ie; Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, Washington and Paine must not be conjoined with those who voted for it.

    Clearly, particularly from the correspondence of Jefferson and Madison, it was clear to them that the first amendment was intended to , and did, indeed create a wall of eternal separation between Church and State.

    We owe a debt of gratitude to Benjamin Franklin, in that, master statesman that he was, he was able to form enough of a cohesion of dissenting opinions to ratify the Constitution.

    On another note, in my original post, I did also refer to a “bearded Marxist”, which can also be viewed as sexist, so, I am nothing if not an equal opportunity and equal gender sexist.

    I recall reading in the P.J. O’Rourke book “Parliament of Whores” the phrase “We get the government we deserve.” Well, I think we deserve better than Christine O’Donnell.

  49. Gabriel Hanna

    I think a further point is that the people who developed, framed, and wrote the Constitution, ie; Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, Adams, Washington and Paine must not be conjoined with those who voted for it.

    First, your list is a bit off. Paine and Jefferson were in France and had nothing to do with the Constitution. Washington said almost nothing during the several months he presided over the convention. Almost sixty people were involved in producing it.

    The notes of the Constitutional Convention still exist and the subject was publicly debated at length all over the country in newspapers and pamphlets and public meetings, for example in The Federalist, and then 12 state legislatures voted to ratify. The Constitution was not written by a bunch of Solons who just presented it to everyone and only two guys knew what it really said.

    Clearly, particularly from the correspondence of Jefferson and Madison, it was clear to them that the first amendment was intended to , and did, indeed create a wall of eternal separation between Church and State.

    Then why were there established churches for the next fifty years and nobody noticed that they were illegal? It’s true that Madison and Jefferson didn’t think that was the way it should be–but it unquestionably was the way things were.

  50. Benjamin Franklin

    Gabriel Hanna,

    To state that “Paine and Jefferson were in France and had nothing to do with the Constitution.” is, of course, utter nonsense.

    Particularly in light of the fact that Jefferson, along with Madison, was instrumental, and primarily responsible for the drafting, and securing passage of the Bill of Rights, which is, after all, what we are discussing.

    Sorry, but thanks for playing.

  51. Gabriel Hanna

    @Ben Franklin:

    Dude, look things up instead of making things up. Jefferson did not participate in writing the Bill of Rights, he was the American ambassador to France and was IN FRANCE from 1785 to 1789. Madison was the one who introduced them into Congress, because Jefferson was THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY. Madison also drafted them. And he wasn’t the only one, over 200 had been proposed by various people. By the time it was done there wasn’t just one guy’s opinions involved. In the end it was the entire Congress that “wrote” the Bill of Rights.

    Did Jefferson think they were a good idea? Yes. Did he say as much to Madison? Yes. Did he write them? No. Jefferson’s ideas on what the Republic SHOULD be have no more legal force than other citizens. Because Jefferson was a great and wise man, what he says is worth listening to, but the interpretation of our laws is done by our courts and legislatures, not by quoting his letters.

    This is so easy to look up. Why don’t you post links to Jefferson’s numerous correspondence showing that he had some hand in drafting the Bill of Rights? Oh you can’t because it doesn’t exist.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Bill_of_Rights

    I know you really want to believe that the US was intended to be some kind of secular utopia, but that is historically wrong. There were legal established churches in the US for decades after the Bill of Rights was adopted. They must have thought Jefferson wasn’t the dictator.

    When Madison proposed the Bill of Rights he had a bit in there that would have got rid of state churches. Congress rejected that bit.

    You don’t get to make up your own history.

    http://www.revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/history-bill-of-rights.html

    Some of Madison’s amendments that did not receive congressional approval included one that preserved the right of religious dissenters to abstain from military service, one that protected freedom of the press from censorship by state governments (first amendment freedoms at this time were considered only to be restrictions of the federal government, not state governments, thus, the state governments could restrict freedom of the press, religion, speech and so forth) and one protecting the right to trial by jury in state criminal cases (again, the right to trial by jury was only applied to the federal government at this time, not state governments).

    Madison considered these restrictions on the States’ power to be the most necessary of all the amendments, yet they were completely rejected by the Congress. Later on, in the early 1900’s the enforcement of these rights was applied to the state governments by the courts, as well as the federal government by the court’s interpretation of the 14th amendment. Thus, today, a state cannot restrict these rights any more than the federal government can. You can read the 14th Amendment here.

    In studying the history of the Bill of Rights, it should be noted that Madison’s proposal did not actually call for a Bill of Rights, but rather for insertions, deletions and revisions of the Constitution to be added right into the text, not a list of rights to be added at the end of the Constitution. It was the whole Congress who decided to add them as a list at the end. Madison also proposed some changes to the Preamble. The rest of the changes were to be inserted into the Constitution wherever they applied, most of them into Article I, Section IX, which dealt with restrictions on the legislative branch, the branch he believed the most prone to usurping the people’s rights.

    Madison’s proposals were not actually taken up until August 13, two months after he had proposed them. The Federalists dominated the Congress and passing a Bill of Rights was not an urgent issue to them. Nonetheless, Madison believed it was necessary to secure confidence in the Constitution and he tried to shepherd his amendments through the House of Representatives. In the end, on August 24, 1789, the House accepted 17 of the amendments, making many changes to Madison’s proposals and throwing out his preamble.