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Feb 17 2013

Rodda Catches Barton Lying. Again.

I’m sure it will come as a tremendous shock to you all that the indispensable Chris Rodda has, yet again, caught David Barton flagrantly lying about American history. Barton claimed on the Glenn Beck show that gun accidents didn’t happen during the founding period of the country because kids were all taught how to use guns.

Barton then proceeded to pull out a few letters from the founders to prove that using guns was a usual part of education back in the founding era. He first quoted a few lines from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to his fifteen-year-old nephew in which Jefferson told his nephew to take a two hour break from his studies every day to exercise. The exercise that Jefferson recommended was long walks, and he told his nephew to take his gun with him on his walks. This letter is neither here nor there. It says nothing about teaching the use of guns being part of school. All it says is that Jefferson thought that walking and shooting were good ways to exercise and “relax the mind,” and recommended them to his nephew over “games played with the ball, and others of that nature,” which he warned were “too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind.”

She also points out that when Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, he forbid students to carry guns or any weapon of any kind, even sticks:

“No student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or vinous liquors, keep or use weapons or arms of any kind, or gunpowder, keep a servant, horse or dog, appear in school with a stick, or any weapon …”

There’s more to it as well, including distorting by omission a letter from John Quincy Adams.

20 comments

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  1. 1
    Michael Heath

    Thomas Jefferson:

    No student shall, within the precincts of the University, introduce, keep or use any spirituous or vinous liquors . . .

    One book history book I read years ago noted that one of Thomas Jefferson’s most heartbreaking moments came late in life. It seems some UVA students were drunk and vandalized some UVA property.

    Mr. Jefferson’s dismay as reported seemed way out of proportion to the minor damage done by these students. The historian framed his response as cognitive dissonance given Jefferson’s utopian to a fault perception of humans within certain environments, like the one he helped create at the UVA.

    Jefferson was late in life where this historian didn’t go into any detail on whether Jefferson’s old age had resulted in him being feeble-minded, where it seems that should be considered prior to making such a harsh judgment of Jefferson’s intelligence. (Yes, I know Jefferson was utopian to a fault, but his reaction was absurd, so I think other factors were also in play.)

  2. 2
    dingojack

    Barton lies. And in other news dog bites man….
    *Yawn*
    Dingo

  3. 3
    Gregory in Seattle

    And for her next trick, she uses a shot gun to shoot at a large fish in a small, shallow barrel.

  4. 4
    dingojack

    Whilst Barton dangles both his feet in the pond. (One can dream, can’t one?)
    :) Dingo

  5. 5
    Zeno

    It looks like Barton has descended to the level where “Barton was talking” and “Barton was lying” have become identical.

  6. 6
    Dr X

    With a conscience as lax as his, you got to wonder what else Barton is up to when no one is looking.

  7. 7
    John Pieret

    I know it is important to point out the dishonesty of the talibangelicals but ‘Barton lies’ is ‘film at eleven’ territory at best.

  8. 8
    Ichthyic

    while y’all are criticizing Ed for pointing out something that seems as obvious as Barton lying, do note that Chris Rhoda IS the primary source of information on just how much and how often and in what capacity Barton is lying.

    Barton is taken seriously by millions in the US, yet how many sites are specifically devoted to calling out his crap?

    It’s work, and before you yawn, make sure to tip your waitress, damnit!

  9. 9
    Ichthyic

    damn brain…

    Chris RODDA.

    fixed.

  10. 10
    Aliasalpha

    RODDA VERSUS BARTON! FIG… Oh its over already…

    If he’s going to make up history he might as well try and make it entertaining, say that the nastiest general in your civil war was a sith or something

  11. 11
    John Pieret

    while y’all are criticizing Ed for pointing out something that seems as obvious as Barton lying

    I, for one, wasn’t criticizing Ed for that. It is important to detail what Barton and his ilk are doing. It’s just that it is now equivalent to reporting “Barton’s lips are moving.” I suppose that Barton counts on that. The people who lap up his lies are immune to facts and it is, to say the least, frustrating that anyone has to document his dishonesty. In an even remotely intelligent society in the 21st century, he would have long ago been laughed off the public stage. Every time someone shows how he lies, we are admitting how our society has failed.

  12. 12
    Ichthyic

    Every time someone shows how he lies, we are admitting how our society has failed.

    yup. I for one do not ever wish to desensitize myself to that fact, either, nor forget those who call it to our attention, simply because it’s been done before.

    sometimes, beating a dead horse is necessary.

  13. 13
    abb3w

    @1, Michael Heath

    One book history book I read years ago

    I don’t recall hearing quite that anecdote before in my years in Charlottesville, and Google Books doesn’t seem to turn it up either. Not that the students weren’t alarmingly rowdy early on; the UVA honor system resulted from a professor being shot by a drunken student. While that particular incident was a bit after TJ died, things were not much short of running riot before. It’s generally credible, but….

    Given the post is regarding David Barton, I hope you’d not consider it too out of line to request more precise sourcing?

  14. 14
    John Pieret

    sometimes, beating a dead horse is necessary.

    Unfortunately, sometimes you have to beat the ground where a dead horse once peed.

  15. 15
    DaveL

    Barton claimed on the Glenn Beck show that gun accidents didn’t happen during the founding period of the country because kids were all taught how to use guns.

    Such a claim is absurd on its face, no matter how well children of the time were taught. Car accidents happen almost exclusively to cars driven by licensed drivers, experienced riders get thrown from horses, olympic skiers injure themselves skiing. Likewise the modern record is full of accidental (or negligent) shootings by trained people, even professionals. Why should we expect the founding era to be any different?

  16. 16
    democommie

    “sometimes, beating a dead horse is necessary.

    Unfortunately, sometimes you have to beat the ground where a dead horse once peed.”

    Actually, that’s a start.

    What you really have to do is corral all of the sparrows who picked through the horseshit for bits of corn and oats and the buzzards who feasted on the carcass.

  17. 17
    Michael Heath

    abb3w writes:

    I don’t recall hearing quite that anecdote [see my post @ 1] before in my years in Charlottesville, and Google Books doesn’t seem to turn it up either. Not that the students weren’t alarmingly rowdy early on; the UVA honor system resulted from a professor being shot by a drunken student. While that particular incident was a bit after TJ died, things were not much short of running riot before. It’s generally credible, but….

    Given the post is regarding David Barton, I hope you’d not consider it too out of line to request more precise sourcing?

    Go to Amazon and retrieve the paperback version of American Sphinx by Joseph Ellis. Use Amazon’s, “Click to Look Inside”, feature. Search by the keywords, disappointed idealist. All of page 343 until the keywords validate what I reported @ 1. Here’s my review of American Spinx.

    I don’t think this post being about Barton adds weight to your request. Of course it’s always nice when people cite that which they reference, so much so I think I’m one of the more prolific citers in this venue. I simply didn’t have time yesterday where I thought my post would be welcomed and where I’m not publishing something I think needs to meet a minimal standard, i.e., that of journalists or attempting to promote an argument where my Jefferson story was a premise of that argument – either of which should demand a cite. The Jefferson story I told @ 1 is merely an interesting tidbit that I thought was worthy of sharing.

    Mr. Ellis tells the story better than I did so I think it’s worth finding page 343 and reading it. But as I noted @ 1, Jefferson was old by then, so I was disappointed Ellis kept Jefferson in character rather than consider whether feebleness brought on by old age played a part.

  18. 18
    jnorris

    Gregory in Seattle @ #3 got it: Catching Barton lying = shooting fish in barrel.
    Its too damn easy and not good sport.
    I suggest that all Barton Catching be limited to fifth graders and lower. After all they are his intellectual peers.

  19. 19
    ArtK

    @ DaveL

    Why should we expect the founding era to be any different?

    Because for Barton’s readers, the founding era is a lost Golden Age. Lost by evil liberals and moochers just as surely as Adam and Eve lost Eden. There was a brief Golden Age in the 50s (sort of like a minor ice age), but other than that, we’ve been steadily heading for hell in a handbasket since the early 19th century.

    This fallacy is very strong in people who think that a trend started a decade ago has been going on “forever,” and that a generation or two is “ancient history.” It’s strong because they are fed a constant diet of stories about how wonderful it was in the past, followed by stories about how awful things are now and how they are getting worse by the minute.

    The idea that there was a perfect past at some time can be very comforting. Strange, I know. The idea is that if it was possible to have perfection some time in the past, we can regain it — the awfulness of now is only a temporary condition. It makes the present bearable. It also makes it easy for charlatans like Barton to place blame for the current situation on some group they want to demonize, and to offer salvation in the form of “right thinking.” Right thinking that, of course, benefits no one except the charlatans.

  20. 20
    abb3w

    @17, Michael Heath

    Go to Amazon and retrieve the paperback version of American Sphinx by Joseph Ellis.

    Looks worth checking out.

    @17, Michael Heath

    I don’t think this post being about Barton adds weight to your request.

    Possibly not weight, as such. However, given that the post was on Barton, there was no way I’d be passing along such an anecdote without more scholarly validation. Too much of his stuff is popular hearsay repeated.

    (I still plan to track back for more detail. The footnote refers to Malone’s “Jefferson and his Time”, Vol VI 463-468 and Smith’s “Republic of Letters” vol III p 1920; there may also be a local record of the 1825 BOV meeting. It seems likely relevant to some contemporary discussions on the UVA Honor system.)

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