A Curmudgeonly Fourth of July

Liberty Enlightening the World

Once again, we ask our non-US readers to indulge us as we celebrate America’s Independence Day. Because of your Curmudgeon’s cosmic responsibilities, we are always asking ourselves: What can we do to make this a memorable occasion?

First, we must remind you that on this day a year ago, we posted some Earth-shaking news: Amazing Discovery: Eve’s Brassiere Is Found! And we also informed you that — as so often happens on this day — the Discoveroids disgraced themselves again by continuing their gruesome campaign of intellectual body-snatching and quote-mining, when they once more hijacked poor ol’ Thomas Jefferson and claimed him as one of their own — see Discoveroids Again Hijack the Fourth of July.

True to their nefarious tradition, they’ve done it again! This year’s hijacking attempt is On Independence Day, Recalling the Intelligent-Design Views of the Man Who Wrote the Declaration of Independence. It’s the same nonsense we discussed last year, so we won’t waste our time with it.

Addendum: The Discoveroids have posted yet another Fourth of July hijacking of Jefferson: We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident. It’s by Stephen Meyer, who claims that Jefferson wrote the Declaration while in some kind of trance induced by contemplating the wonders of the intelligent designer. It’s the usual quote-mining. Not only that, but it’s merely a repeat of something he posted four years ago, about which we wrote this: Discovery Institute’s False Fourth of July. Nothing new here, folks. Just the same old Oogity Boogity!

Instead, we shall follow our own tradition. We always take this occasion to load you up with a bunch of historical links, so we’ll do that once again. Here’s a link to the Declaration of Independence, plus the Articles of Confederation, which — except for a few tweaks — was also drafted in July of 1776, but it wasn’t ratified until 1781. Hey, no collection would be complete without Common Sense by Thomas Paine.

That stuff is about the Revolution. Then there was the often-neglected time when we had ten Presidents before George Washington — see President of the United States in Congress assembled. Finally we come to the Constitution.

Here’s the Federalist Papers — that splendid and still authoritative series of essays by the Constitution’s principal authors, who explain the meaning and purpose of its every clause. The website has a search feature at the bottom of the page. For some wholesome family amusement, invite someone over who insists that the nation was founded on religious principles. Encourage your friend to search through the entire thing for all the religious words he can think of, and then ponder the results.

After that, check out our post on Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and then our post on The Unknown Bill of Rights.

There’s more where that came from — much more. It’s astounding what you can find at Primary Documents in American History (1763-1815). And you ought to be aware of this: Veto of federal public works bill by James Madison, because pork barrel spending is unconstitutional. Hey –it’s always handy to have a link to Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Searchable!

We’re not expecting any news today, so it’s up to us to entertain ourselves. Therefore, we’re declaring another Intellectual Free-Fire Zone. As with all our free-fire zones, we’re open for the discussion of pretty much anything — science, politics, economics, whatever — as long as it’s tasteful and interesting. Banter, babble, bicker, bluster, blubber, blather, blab, blurt, burble, boast — say what you will. But avoid flame-wars and beware of the profanity filters.

We now throw open the comments to you, dear reader. Have at it.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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16 responses to “A Curmudgeonly Fourth of July

  1. Today is the day for all real Americans to celebrate our God-given Declaration of Independence, personally dictated by the Lord Himself unto Thomas Jefferson. Yea, verily, and the Constitution as well, which established this most holy country as a nation consecrated unto Christ. (So what if the only actual reference to God in the latter document is the boilerplate “year of Our Lord” in the date at the end.)

    And if you don’t see it that way, fundamentalists are quite happy to denounce you as Thomas Jefferson once did his Revolutionary comrade Thomas Paine, whom the third President of these confederated states called a “filthy little atheist.” (And never mind that Jefferson himself was denounced in similar language in this land of church-state separation for having produced a version of the Bible from which miracles and the supernatural were excised.)

  2. Happy Fourth!” and “Merry Independence Day!” and “Jolly July!” all seem a bit awkward. What is an appropriate felicitation for this US holiday!?

    Whatever it is, I extend it to all concerned. May all your fireworks displays be intelligently designed big bangs. *Ducks*

  3. Go fourth and multiply.

  4. Alex Shuffell

    Ray Comfort posted a picture on Facebook a few days ago that said “most believers in evolution don’t know the difference between adaptation and Darwinian evolution.” Can someone explain the difference to me? I didn’t want to ask in Ray Comfort’s Facebook page because his followers will not be able to give me an intelligent answer.

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    Surely one of The “Curmudgeon’s Best” posts (although missing from the sidebar index of that name) deserves to be trotted out every July 4. Is America a “Christian Nation”?

    Compare Jefferson’s spare treatment of religion in 1776 with the theocratic hubris used in the Connecticut colonial charter of 1639, and it is obvious that the new nation was intended be founded on rational discourse of the Enlightenment, and not on proof texted verses lifted from the bible.

  6. @Alex S. As an immunologist the simple answer is No, I can’t. Evolution is called, well, evolution. It’s the cretinists that call things macro- and micro-evolution, Darwinian evolution, Satanic evolution etc, not scientists.

  7. docbill1351

    I spent the Bicentennial Fourth of July in London where there was no celebration at all, other than the daily cheering when the pub opened at lunch time. However, they made up for the hype in spades the following year during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee and the very cool RAF flyover with Concorde right in the middle.

    I knew how the Queen felt about seeing Concorde because BA gave me a personal flyover almost every day as I lived on the approach to Heathrow. How I discovered I had a loose filling is another story.

  8. docbill1351

    A daptation is a small, black and white spotted dog; a cross between a Chihuahua and a Dalmatian. This particular cross causes a genetic mutation of the daptation’s larynx and tongue preventing it from making a traditional doggy “bow wow” or “woof,” rather it can only go “dap dap.”

  9. Warren Johnson

    I have often read “have a Glorious Fourth”, but it does not seem to trip off the tongue.
    Saying “Happy Fourth” is the norm in our family. So Happy Fourth to the Curmudgeon and all his readers. Long may his defense of the enlightenment wave.
    The village parade has already started out on Madeline Island, and the fireworks tonight should be spectacular.
    Is this a great country or what?

  10. “we are always asking ourselves: What can we do to make this a memorable occasion?”
    Just enjoy yourself is good enough.

  11. To S.C. and contributors that live in the U.S., I hope your Independence Day provides a chance to relax with family, friends and treasured pets. Have a great day and be safe out there!

    Many thanks to you S.C., your efforts are greatly appreciated.

  12. I just added an addendum to the main post because the Discoveroids posted yet another Fourth of July hijacking. Nothing to get excited about.

  13. Here in Indiana, fireworks of all sorts and sizes are legal (as long as they aren’t nuclear), and there have been some BIG ones going off around here today. They have the deep, low rumble normally associated with ordnance at a bombing range.

  14. retiredsciguy says: “there have been some BIG ones going off around here today.”

    There are a couple of parks around here that always have fireworks on the Fourth. They do it at night when the display is more spectacular. The dogs don’t like fireworks, so I have to stay with them to keep them calm.

  15. Holding the Line in Florida

    Here on the coast of the FL panhandle, the fireworks and festivities have been great. Adult beverages have been drunk in copious amounts. Shouts of down with kings and up with liberty have been heard. I am sure that the delphinidae brethren lurking off shore were suitably impressed with the show and the progress we land dwelling primates have made!

  16. longshadow

    Mark Twain

    Address on the 4th of July

    delivered 4 July 1899, London, England

    I thank you for the compliment which has just been tendered me, and to show my appreciation of it I will not afflict you with many words.

    It is pleasant to celebrate in this peaceful way, upon this old mother soil, the anniversary of an experiment which was born of war with this same land so long ago, and wrought out to a successful issue by the devotion of our ancestors. It has taken nearly a hundred years to bring the English and Americans into kindly and mutually appreciative relations, but I believe it has been accomplished at last.

    It was a great step when the two last misunderstandings were settled by arbitration instead of cannon. It is another great step when England adopts our sewing-machines without claiming the invention — as usual. It was another when they imported one of our sleeping-cars the other day. And it warmed my heart more than I can tell, yesterday, when I witnessed the spectacle of an Englishman ordering an American sherry cobbler of his own free will and accord — and not only that but with a great brain and a level head reminding the barkeeper not to forget the strawberries.

    With a common origin, a common language, a common literature, a common religion, and common drinks, what is longer needful to the cementing of the two nations together in a permanent bond of brotherhood?

    This is an age of progress, and ours is a progressive land. A great and glorious land, too — a land which has developed a Washington, a Franklin, a William M. Tweed, a Longfellow, a Motley, a Jay Gould, a Samuel C. Pomeroy, a recent Congress which has never had its equal (in some respects), and a United States Army which conquered sixty Indians in eight months by tiring them out — which is much better than uncivilized slaughter, God knows.

    We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don’t know anything and can’t read. And I may observe that we have an insanity plea that would have saved Cain.

    I think I can say, and say with pride, that we have some legislatures that bring higher prices than any in the world.

    I refer with effusion to our railway system, which consents to let us live, though it might do the opposite, being our owners. It only destroyed three thousand and seventy lives last year by collisions, and twenty-seven thousand two hundred and sixty by running over heedless and unnecessary people at crossings. The companies seriously regretted the killing of these thirty thousand people, and went so far as to pay for some of them — voluntarily, of course, for the meanest of us would not claim that we possess a court treacherous enough to enforce a law against a railway company. But, thank Heaven, the railway companies are generally disposed to do the right and kindly thing without compulsion. I know of an instance which greatly touched me at the time. After an accident the company sent home the remains of a dear distant old relative of mine in a basket, with the remark, “Please state what figure you hold him at — and return the basket.” Now there couldn’t be anything friendlier than that.

    But I must not stand here and brag all night. However, you won’t mind a body bragging a little about his country on the Fourth of July. It is a fair and legitimate time to fly the eagle.

    I will say only one more word of brag — and a hopeful one. It is this. We have a form of government which gives each man a fair chance and no favor. With us, no individual is born with a right to look down upon his neighbor and hold him in contempt. Let such of us as are not dukes find our consolation in that. And we may find hope for the future in the fact that as unhappy as is the condition of our political morality today, England has risen up out of a far fouler since the days when Charles I ennobled courtesans and all political place was a matter of bargain and sale.

    There is hope for us yet.

    At least the above is the speech which I was going to make, but our minister, General Schenck, presided, and after the blessing, got up and made a great, long, inconceivably dull harangue, and wound up by saying that inasmuch as speech-making did not seem to exhilarate the guests much, all further oratory would be dispensed with during the evening, and we could just sit and talk privately to our elbow-neighbors and have a good, sociable time. It is known that in consequence of that remark forty-four perfected speeches died in the womb. The depression, the gloom, the solemnity that reigned over the banquet from that time forth will be a lasting memory with many that were there. By that one thoughtless remark General Schenck lost forty-four of the best friends he had in England. More than one said that night: “And this is the sort of person that is sent to represent us in a great sister empire!”

    http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/marktwain4thofjulyspeech.htm