Bradlee Dean’s Fake Quotes


Bradlee Dean burnishes his wingnut credentials in his latest column by offering up a blatantly false “oh my god Obama’s going to take away our guns” claim and backing it up with fake quotes from one of the founding fathers. He starts the column off with this one from George Washington:

“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.”

– George Washington

But in fact, he can’t even get his fake quotes right. This is a bastardized version of a much longer fake quote that often makes the rounds in those idiotic emails you get forwarded by your ignorant uncle. Here’s the longer fake quote:

“Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon, and citizen’s firearms are indelibly related. From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable. Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate they are in safe and sane hands.
The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference; they deserve a place with all that’s good. When firearms, go all goes; we need them every hour.”

None of this appears anywhere in any writings or speeches from Washington. It exists only in the wingnut imagination. And honestly, you wouldn’t even really need to look it up to find this out. If you have even a vague familiarity with Washington’s writings and speeches, you would know that this is fake just by the style and wording. And then near the end of the article he offers up another fake quote from Washington:

President George Washington, when arming the people of the United States of America, said:

“A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”

The first clause is accurate, the rest is invented. The first part comes from his first annual message to Congress, but here’s the actual quote:

free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a Uniform and well digested plan is requisite: And their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories, as tend to render them independent others, for essential, particularly for military supplies.

The rest of it was evidently pulled from Dean’s anal cavity, though I don’t know how one could extract anything from that orifice with his head stuck in it.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Didn’t Washington also say, “Legalizing Teh Ghey would like really mess up my relationship with Martha, y’know?”

  2. greg1466 says

    The church, the plow, the prairie wagon, and citizen’s firearms are indelibly related.

    Not sure, but this sentence would seem to be a dead give away, beings that prairies weren’t a major part of the colonies that George knew. And I don’t think they were commonly referred to as ‘prairie wagons’, but rather ‘prairie schooners’, ‘conestoga wagons’ or ‘covered wagons’. In any event, they didn’t become an iconic part of America until the 19th century during the mid-western land rushes.

  3. Chiroptera says

    If you have even a vague familiarity with Washington’s writings and speeches…

    Except what do these nuts know about the writings of anyone aside from what they find in their mass-circulated emails? Hell, they aren’t even all that familiar with what’s in the very Bible they worship!

    …you would know that this is fake just by the style and wording.

    Right. Being able to recognize style and wording is at a far higher level of literacy than these clowns have demonstrated.

  4. imrryr says

    “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.”

    Man, apparently old Georgie couldn’t write for shit.

  5. DaveL says

    From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable.

    I might be wrong, but I’d think this would be an odd sentiment for a military man of the time. First, there’s no mention of muskets, probably the primary warfighting weapon of the time. Rifles were all well and good for skirmishers, but they were too slow to compete with muskets when it came to volley fire. Second, pistols had their place as officers’ weapons, for putting down a wounded horse for instance, or shooting deserters (and duelling, not something a general would have looked upon with approval), but I have a hard time imagining a general estimating them as “equally indispensable” with long guns. This sounds more like the sentiment of a 20-21st century gun enthusiast than an 18th century general.

    Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate they are in safe and sane hands.

    I don’t know when it became fashionable to cite percentages in political arguments, but it seems oddly out of place here.

  6. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    The first clause is accurate, the rest is invented.

    I’d argue that not even the first clause is accurately quoted. Dean has changed “not only armed, but disciplined” into “not only armed and disciplined . . .”. Washington’s actual phrasing assumes that the people will be armed, but imposes an extra condition on that status, namely discipline (in the form of the “Uniform and well digested plan” in the next clause). It’s an echo of the “well-regulated militia” clause of the 2nd Amendment.

    Dean’s version does away with all that.

  7. Aaron says

    I like history, don’t get me wrong, but I do not understand this obsession with quoting and divining the intent of our ‘revered’ forefathers. Lets govern for today based on today’s evolving needs and social desires. Frankly, our forefathers weren’t exactly models of social justice. Additionally, we (collectively) know so much more about ourselves and our world than our ancestors could – as well our descendants after us. I certainly wouldn’t expect my great great (plus some additional number of greats) to govern in the far flung future according to my current ideals and knowledge.

    TLDR Why are we so hung up on how we have governed in the past, rather than how we should govern NOW?

    Also, slightly related – why do so many people look for wisdom, secrets, and answers from long ago? I’m referring to holy books and other archaic sources of ‘knowledge.’

  8. matty1 says

    It’s a reference to the little known 2 1/2th amendment from the Wingnut Constitution of Jesusland (aka USA).

    “Liberty teeth being necessary to the insanity of a Christian State the right of the people to bear plows and prairie wagons shall not be infringed”

  9. D. C. Sessions says

    Help me here — wasn’t this same George Washington who was involved somehow in the Whiskey Rebellion?

  10. DaveL says

    Lets govern for today based on today’s evolving needs and social desires.

    Oddly enough, you can find quotes from Jefferson expressing exactly that opinion. From his letter to James Madison, dated Sep. 6, 1789:

    On similar ground it may be proved that no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation. They may manage it then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters too of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors extinguished them, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of 19. years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force and not of right.

  11. Reginald Selkirk says

    Pierce R. Butler #1: Didn’t Washington also say, “Legalizing Teh Ghey would like really mess up my relationship with Martha, y’know?”

    That would explain the wig and tights.

  12. says

    As Greg1466 and DaveL pointed out, you don’t even need to be familiar with Washington’s writings; a basic familiarity with history would tell you that Washington was in the ground long before anyone set out across the prairie with wagons, let alone rifles rather than muskets being the standard weapon of the military. (Anyone who thinks pistols had major military value then or now is ignorant in a whole different way).

    Aaron #9: The first part and the second part are related. The reverence for the Constitution is just a subset of the general ‘wisdom of the ancients’ trope. I suspect that it relates to religion, the ‘logic’ being “My holy book is really really old, and it’s totally right, so those people way back when must have been real clever, so old stuff is right, like my holy book.” This would be aggravetd my the tendency of the modern world to disagree with holy books, leading that type of people to cling more desperately to the ‘wisdom of the past.’

  13. Reginald Selkirk says

    The church, the plow, the prairie wagon, and citizen’s firearms are indelibly related.

    Encouraging news to any freethinker astute enough to notice that the prairie wagon is obsolete.

  14. Quodlibet says

    From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness…

    Washington would also have known the difference between “insure” and “ensure” and would have used them correctly.

  15. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    @quodlibet:

    The preamble to the U.S. Constitution uses “insure” just the way it’s used in that quote:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  16. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    Help me here — wasn’t this same George Washington who was involved somehow in the Whiskey Rebellion?

    I’m sure the tiny tiny percentage of Teabaggers that have even heard of the Whiskey Rebellion are confident that George Washington was right there fighting alongside the farmers, and that the rebellion was so successful that that evil President Jefferson was finally forced to repeal the law or face a civil war.

    (Hint – that’s not what happened.)

  17. DaveL says

    Every corner of this land knows firearms, and more than 99 99/100 percent of them by their silence indicate they are in safe and sane hands.

    I’d also like to point out that this passage very much puts the issue in the frame of modern gun control debates. Back in Washington’s time, there’s wasn’t a whole lot of hand-wringing over whether firearms were falling into the wrong hands. The Militia Acts of 1792 pretty much required every free white man to own one, with few exceptions. Nor were they expected to be silent, as they were expected to drill with them and they were in common use for hunting, or to raise an alarm, not to mention the fact that celebratory gunfire has a long history in America. By contrast, the author’s emphasis on “safe and sane hands” and the silence of the guns indicates a preoccupation with gun violence, which didn’t become a major social concern until long after Washington’s death.

  18. Chiroptera says

    Aaron, #9: I like history, don’t get me wrong, but I do not understand this obsession with quoting and divining the intent of our ‘revered’ forefathers.

    Because these people are authoritarians. Like all authoritarians, they must obey the pronouncements of the proper authorities. People’s personal opinions and beliefs are invalid until validated by the proper authorities.

    Note, though, that these authorities don’t include people like evolutionary biologists or legal scholars or actual historians. Just like the way they quote the Bible they worship when it suits their purposes, they are really just expressing their own opinions, but they don’t have enough trust in their own opinions (probably they realize how stupid they sound) so they need to “quote” the correct authorities to validate them.

  19. John Hinkle says

    “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples’ liberty’s teeth.”

    – George Washington

    This is obviously fake. I found the real quote:

    “Guns are the false choppers of Liberty,” said George to Martha as he dropped his dentures into effervescing liquid.

  20. naturalcynic says

    Another thing in the quote that may be ahistorical is the mention of the Pilgrims. Washington was a Virginian and would be more familiar with Jamestown and other settlements in Virginia. The legacy of the Pilgrims was developed later than the Revolutionary period, especially the emphasis on “religious freedom”.

  21. parasiteboy says

    In regards to the 2nd amendment, I have often wondered if it was originally intended to be interpreted as you needed to be part of a “well regulated militia” in order to have the “right to bear arms” as Hercules Grytpype-Thynne@8 points out

    Washington’s actual phrasing assumes that the people will be armed, but imposes an extra condition on that status, namely discipline (in the form of the “Uniform and well digested plan” in the next clause). It’s an echo of the “well-regulated militia” clause of the 2nd Amendment.

    Or do I have it a bit backwards and you have the “right to bear arms” as long as you will be part of a “well regulated militia” in needed as DaveL@20 says

    The Militia Acts of 1792 pretty much required every free white man to own one, with few exceptions. Nor were they expected to be silent, as they were expected to drill with them…

  22. DaveL says

    @26

    Some may disagree, but I think the 2nd Amendment is phrased so as to guarantee an armed population from which a militia might be raised, rather than to guarantee the raising of a militia in which people could be armed. Of course, I don’t see that the framers of the constitution had any inkling of decoupling the two: the general population would be armed AND they would belong to the militia. The people were to be the repository of armed force on land. This had to do not only with concerns about a standing army being used as a force of repression, but also for very pragmatic reasons of expense. The framers had learned under British rule that a standing army was expensive to maintain, an empire doubly so – a lesson perhaps more applicable today than many realize.

  23. Suido says

    99.99/100 percent.

    Look at that beautiful mathematical literacy. Just look at it.

    Supposing that this statistic was carefully researched by Washington, does that mean only 1 in 10,000 guns were used during the war for independence? Talk about American Exceptionalism, they weren’t even trying and they still beat those nasty Brits.

    Let’s further suppose it still applies today, meaning that of the 270,000,000 privately owned and registered firearms in the US, only 27,000 of them are not in “safe and sane hands.” Only 27,000.

    /attacking the low hanging fruit.

  24. dingojack says

    Sorry to be a pain Suido –
    but isn’t ‘99.99/100 percent’ equal to 0.9999% or 0.009999?
    So out of 270 million guns, some 2,699,730 would be in safe hands, and 267,300,270 weapons are in unsafe hands.
    Be afraid America, be very very afraid!eleventy!! ;)
    Dingo

  25. dingojack says

    For those that are curious:

    usufruct
    ‘noun Roman and Civil Law .
    the right of enjoying all the advantages derivable from the use of something that belongs to another, as far as is compatible with the substance of the thing not being destroyed or injured’.
    Dictionary.com

    Sounds dangerously like socialism to me. Hey didn’t he say something about ‘a little revolution now and then, is a good thing…’?
    OMG. The FF where evuuuul socialists! Quick Ma, to the bomb-shelter!
    @@
    Dingo

  26. dingojack says

    Personally, I read the 2nd amendment as an absolute construction.
    Like the Latin ablative absolute it was modeled on, it has two clauses. The second clause occurs because of the first clause has been satisfied or it’s limit has been reached.

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    That is:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …” (this is the condition).

    “… the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. (this is the outcome of the above condition being true).

    That is, ‘while it is necessary to have a Militia to protect the United States from invasion, secession, mutiny, rebellion or social unrest, then during that time the government shall not infringe on the right to bear and keep arms’. (And when the first clause is no longer true because the US has local, state and federal police forces; state and federal armed forces; a navy and airforce; coast guard; internal and external security forces; well in that case…)

    (Just my $0.02)
    :) Dingo

  27. drhanson says

    I am as annoyed as anyone else about some people on the right who either can’t understand how to conduct real historical analysis and in some cases blatantly falsify quotes. However, I have to say that even thought the Washington “quotes” are bogus, the actual sentiment isn’t necessarily that far off from what was a prevailing view among many Founders. In 19th Century republican philosophy, the ability of free people to be armed and able to join together to stand up to despotic governments is a very important concept. This is different from the type of claim that is often made today for unrestricted gun rights, which often focus on the gun owner’s individual right to protect his property and life (and to hunt). The more modern NRA-type claim is based on more of a liberal/libertarian belief in individual rights, but it seems likely that the Founders were more concerned about making sure “the People” were armed as a way of protecting the right of self-government. (See for example Akhil Amar’s excellent book on the Bill of Rights.) The validity of the general sentiment of course in no way justifies sloppy research or outright lying about who said what.

  28. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    In 19th Century republican philosophy, the ability of free people to be armed and able to join together to stand up to despotic governments is a very important concept.

    Unfortunately for the Libertarians, the Whiskey Rebellion demonstrates very clearly that the Founding Fathers also strongly believed in the right of ‘the government’ to collect taxes at gunpoint, if necessary.

  29. parasiteboy says

    Thanks for the input DaveL@27 and dingojack@31. I wonder when (if at all) the two clauses were decoupled by a subsequent court case or new law.

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