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Feb 04 2013

Is David Barton Now Getting his ‘History’ from Louis L’Amour Novels?

Thanks to an astute commenter on my post from last week, “A Debunking of Pseudo-Historian David Barton’s Book on the Second Amendment” (which I posted on Huffington Post as well as here on FTB), we may now know the source of one of the tales that Barton has been telling to promote the idea that not just teachers — but students — should be armed in schools.

I began my post with a few quotes from Barton, one of which was a story he told on Glenn Beck’s web-based TV show about a classroom full of gun-toting elementary school children in the 1850s saving their teacher’s life by whipping out their guns to stop a gunman who came to their school.

This was the ‘historical’ account related by Barton told on Beck’s show on January 15:

“The great example, in the 1850s you have a school teacher who’s teaching. A guy — he’s out in the West — this guy from New England wants to kill him and find him. So he comes into the school with his gun to shoot the teacher, he decides not to shoot the teacher because all the kids pull their guns out and point it at him and say, ‘You kill the teacher, you die.’ He says, ‘Okay.’ The teacher lives. Real simple stuff. Saved the life of — there was no shooting because all the kids — we’re talking in elementary school — all the kids pull their guns out and says, ‘We like our teacher. You shoot our teacher, we’ll kill you.’”

 

 

I assumed that Barton was either exaggerating a real story or just making the whole thing up, but since he didn’t give any source for the story or enough specifics to fact check it, I thought it would be impossible to find out whether or not there was any truth to it. I didn’t even consider that it might have come from a novel, but when a commenter on my previous post noted the striking similarity between Barton’s story and a story from the Louis L’Amour novel Bendigo Shafter, I downloaded the Kindle version of the novel and checked it out.

I wasn’t about to read an entire Louis L’Amour novel, but read enough to get the gist of the story:

The teacher in L’Amour’s novel was Drake Morrell, a gambler and gunfighter who had killed five men. Morrell was sentenced to be hanged in San Francisco, but somehow escaped and ended up in a town in Wyoming, where he became a respected citizen and, of course, the school teacher. But he was still being pursued by a character named Stacy Follett. Years earlier, Morrell had exposed that Follett and his friends were cheating at cards. Two of Follett’s friends had confronted Morrell with guns, and Morrell had shot and killed them. Follett caught up with Morrell and went to the school where he was teaching to kill the now respectable school teacher, who was defended by his gun-toting students.

Here’s how the character Follett recounted the incident at the school to another character in the book when asked if he had killed Morrell:

“… And then I looked at him over my cup. “Did you kill Drake Morrell?”

He chuckled again. “Decided agin it.” He sipped his coffee. “You know somethin’? After he started that there schoolteachin’ I figured I had him dead to rights. I laid out for him, waitin’ until he was out of school, and when he come out the door, I shaped up with my old Betsy girl here” — he slapped his rifle — “right on his belly. I had him where he couldn’t move. There was youngsters all around him, and he stood there lookin’ at me and never turned a hair. He had sand, that Morrell.”

“Had?”

“Has. He’s still around. You want to know what happened? I nigh got myself kilt. Five or six of them youngsters, weren’t but two of them upwards of twelve or thirteen, they outs with their six-shooters and had me covered.

“They told me he was their teacher and he was a mighty good one and if I shot him they’d fill my hide.”

He chuckled again. “An’ you know somethin’? They’d of done it, too.”

“What happened?”

“Nothin’. I pulled down my flag. Pulled her down right quick. I never seen so many youngsters with six-shooters.”

 

Remarkably similar to the story Barton told on Beck’s show, isn’t it?

So, did Barton get his piece of ‘history’ from Bendigo Shafter? Only Barton can prove that he didn’t. I therefore challenge David Barton to provide a source for the story he told on Beck’s show, and have sent the following email to Barton’s WallBuilders “research department” to give him the opportunity to do so:

Mr. Barton,

It has been pointed out that the story you told on Glenn Beck’s show on January 15, 2013 about the classroom full of armed students in the 1850s saving their teacher from a gunman bears a remarkable similarity to a story in the Louis L’Amour novel Bendigo Shafter.

To prove that you did not present this fictional story as real history, can you please provide the source for the story you told on Beck’s show?

Thank you,

Chris Rodda

55 comments

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  1. 1
    voidhawk

    I’m surprised it wasn’t from a Turtledove novel. They do seem to like their alt-histories.

  2. 2
    Pieter B, FCD

    Heh. Great work.

    Of course if Barton’s followers had their way, a background check on the teacher (of course they’d do one to make sure he wasn’t a child molester, right?) would have led to him being sent back to San Francisco and hanged. Either that or they’d have done it there to save the transportation costs.

  3. 3
    coragyps

    Chris, I think you will hear only crickets from Mr Barton’s end………

    That is hilarious!

  4. 4
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Title concept: At once both hilarious and frightening. Full of win for descriptive value.

    BTW, I remember when kids having guns in school was the big problem and even more so a moral panic. But maybe those kids involved at the time were the wrong color or something, and in the wrong political climate.

    But hell, you want to increase school shootings, by all means, arm the kids. Those people, most of whom are legally not responsible enough to drive, work, vote, drink alcohol, etc

    As for Barton’s little story, it sounds a bit much like fantasy, regardless of the source.

  5. 5
    gfeltham

    YEEEHAAAAAA!!! Buckarooes, whatcha thinka that one!!

    Thanks Chris!

  6. 6
    busterggi

    I look forward to Mr. Barton’s account of how Superman almost succeeded in saving Abraham Lincoln’s life but was thwarted because Booth was wearing a tie pin containing kryptonite that a disguised Lex Luthor had given him.

  7. 7
    Reginald Selkirk

    Louis Lamour and his time machine have been stealing plots from David Barton.

  8. 8
    thecalmone

    “Bendigo Shafter”? Something to do with the Australian 1850′s goldrush?

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

  9. 9
    lorn

    I was thinking it read like a dime western or movie.

    It didn’t seem realistic to me simply because in the 1850s guns were expensive, often representing a months wage for a frontier family. It would be like a modern family letting their nine-year-old drive the family car.

  10. 10
    gingerbaker

    “I wasn’t about to read an entire Louis L’Amour novel,…”

    I have read quite a few of them, and there is something interesting about them. L’Amour claims that he devoted real research to them, and that they accurately portray the ethos of the American frontier. This ethos was the important message to his stories, indeed, to all proper Westerns.

    And that ethos is the exact opposite of the philosophy of the modern Republican party. On the frontier, an American may not have had much, but he had his honor. Being and acting honorably was the basis of this ethos. Honesty was assumed; looking out for the interests of the little guy was crucial, and that meant taking care of those who often could not take care of themselves – women, children, the poor, the infirm. And “live and let be” – that was the freedom of the American West. Can you imagine?

    The bad guys wear black hats in a L’Amour novel. And every one of them had the ethics of a modern Republican corporatist. Put profit over people; take care of number one. The strong and shrewd deserve their profits, the weak and foolish deserve to have their assets separated from them. Those with wealth deserve their privileges.

    If L’Amour did his research well, then the modern Republican party is profoundly anti American.

  11. 11
    marcus

    I enjoyed L’Amour as a teenager and beyond, for the reasons gingerrbaker mentioned above; fun, escapist horse opera with a simple ethos. This is actually a step up for Barton, at least somebody did some research somewhere, even if it was just a fiction writer (who at least knew he was writing fiction).

  12. 12
    Mike

    I read that book close to thirty years ago and I recognized the story right away. It’s one of the more memorable vignettes that ever got written into a L’Amour book so I don’t wonder that someone pulled him aside already to quiz him on his reading habits. If you hear the story again, from him, I will be very surprised

  13. 13
    Tualha

    Well, golllllleeeee. Who’da thought that an evangelical historian would confuse an unsubstatiated story from some random book with a reliable historical document? ‘Cause, you know, that never happens.

  14. 14
    Marcus Ranum

    Bendigo Shafter

    Oh, great, now Quentin Tarantino’s going to use that for his next Samuel L. Jackson vehicle of mindless bloodshed.

  15. 15
    hexidecima

    Barton is an idiot and one more Liar for Christ. Incidentally, guns were quite expensive back in the 1800. Not something your average 10 year old had.

  16. 16
    Big Boppa

    Except in the Quentin Tarantino version, the bad guy drops his gun, the kids pump about a thousand rounds into him (because Tarantino six shooters never need reloading) and he stays alive long enough for his dramatic closeup.

  17. 17
    Lou Jost

    Before we laugh too loudly, remember that novelists often get their material from real events. As #10 gingerbaker notes, Louis L’Amour did do real historical research in preparation for his novels. So Barton could have taken this from L’Amour, but he also could have taken it from a source that L’Amour had used as inspiration for his novel.

  18. 18
    Gregory in Seattle

    “Now”?

  19. 19
    frankb

    Waiting outside the school for the teacher makes a lot more sense than Barton’s version. But Barton wanted to link the guns to the school more firmly.

  20. 20
    paulburnett

    “gingerbaker” (#10) wrote “On the frontier, an American…had his honor. Being and acting honorably was the basis of this ethos. …taking care of those who often could not take care of themselves – women, children, the poor, the infirm.”

    Except for the Indians. How exactly did the Americans on the frontier “take care” of the human beings whose land they occupied? I don’t quite recall the words “honor” and “honorably” being used in descriptions of America’s treatment of Indians in the 1800s.

    Admittedly, I know nothing of L’Amour’s novels. Can anybody comment on how L’Amour depicted Indians and their interactions with the honorable American frontiersmen?

  21. 21
    octoberfurst

    I first heard this story over at Rightwingwatch.org and almost laughed out loud when I heard Barton talk about a school room full of elementary school kids in the 1850′s –who just so happened to all be armed– thwarting a man determined to kill their teacher. I had visions of all these little 6, 8 and 10 yr olds whipping out their pistols and telling the gunman to back off. Uh huh riiight. I knew it was a bullshit story. But old Glennie Beck was just nodding his head in agreement. Idiots!
    I am glad that you were able to find out it was from a novel. That’s typical of Barton. He is a pathological liar and I have no idea why anyone takes him seriously. Don’t expect a response from that lying weasel.

  22. 22
    Mike

    Mostly, the asshats got their just deserts in L’Amour’s books, no matter the particulars of descent. The times that the antagonist didn’t get a lead enema it was usually because letting them live served as a more fitting punishment, a’ la Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Wasteful people of all stripes were universally loathed along with whiners and liars. Occasionally , something bad had to happen through some quirk of honor and, regardless of the hapless honoree’s race, the impossibility of the situation was respected and accepted for what it was. I don’t have any idea if those stories portrayed the ethos of the early life of this country with any accuracy or not but the man could spin a yarn that made you long to be there.

  23. 23
    Altman Blaudio

    Couple of questions…
    Was the Louis Lamour book set in the 1850′s?

    Is it possible Mr. Lamour used a historical to help write his book?

    Is this the first time you pondered these questions? And if so why do you think that is?

    What confirmed previous experiences have you had with David Barton that lead you to think cynically or dismissively of David Barton?

  24. 24
    Menyambal

    Louis L’Amour was a good story-teller, Barton is a bad one.

    L’Amour claimed to have done meticulous research as to the geography of his stories, but there are doubts about that. As for historical accuracy, well, he was a big one for fast-draw shootouts, which rarely happened.

    You can easily find paperbacks of his, and they make fun reading—-I’d say everybody should read a few, just because he is so popular with so many people (if you want to be literary, look for the homoerotic subtexts in the gunfights).

    As for the L’Amour story at the heart of this matter, you may notice that the incident is told as a story in the book, by a person who may be exaggerating, not enacted as part of the “reality” that takes place. There’s even a lampshade hung on the fact that there are so many guns. It may be a joke.

    As has been said, a revolver would have been *very* expensive back in the 1850s. A school full of six-shooters would indeed have been a rare sight. I’ll add that the guns of that time would have been loaded with black powder, not with cartridges, and would have needed daily care, such as reloading to keep the powder dry—not something to trust to a schoolkid, and not something to tote around casually, on the chance.

    Barton and Beck are believers in bad stories.

  25. 25
    Menyambal

    Altman Blaudio, you sound like a ‘bot designed to waste people’s time with silly questions. Everything you ask has been stated or shown already.

    There’s now a troll technique call JAQ, for Just Asking Questions. The godly see to be popularizing it lately.

  26. 26
    Altman Blaudio

    Sorry Menyambal — son of a…

    I didn’t read all the other posts…any who…it would be nice for an answer…also point out how they are silly.

    I can explain the thought process behind each question but I would hope the wise in this forum would get the point without being held by the hand like a little child.

  27. 27
    Chris Rodda

    Altman Blaudio didn’t seriously just ask me: “What confirmed previous experiences have you had with David Barton that lead you to think cynically or dismissively of David Barton?,” did they?

  28. 28
    Altman Blaudio

    Yeah…it was a serious question. Always willing to learn! If you have a post that outlines all of the experiences then I would be more than happy to read myself.

    And to help Menyambal I’ll provide the thinking behind the questions…

    Was the Louis Lamour book set in the 1850′s?
    –This question raises two possible points. The first being if the book is not set in 1850 then how did Barton come to that date. The second being if this was not considered when writing this article then there appears to be an ideological difference rather than the want of getting to the truth.

    Is it possible Mr. Lamour used a historical to help write his book?
    –This question mainly raises the issue of taking a stance based on ideology rather than research. It seems like the jury is in when it comes to Mr. Barton…which prompts the question below about the writer’s actual experiences with Mr. Barton. If the writer jumps to the conclusion that Lamour made this up entirely it’s curious or intriguing that they came to that conclusion based on no research or facts to back it up. This speaks to credibility in and of itself which is amusing since the point of this article is to question anothers credibility.

    Is this the first time you pondered these questions? And if so why do you think that is?
    –This is to determine if there is an even playing field when critiquing another. If you are willing to put out such thoughts without being fair to all sides then really it’s an article to reinforce ideologies you already hold to be true. And to be clothed as something that is intellectually balanced is a form of deceit which I tend to steer away from.

    What confirmed previous experiences have you had with David Barton that lead you to think cynically or dismissively of David Barton?
    –This is to help me put weight to your comments. I believe there does come a point when someone has frequently misrepresented a discussion or point of history that to consistently come back to them for guidance or knowledge is a fools errand. Now I also believe that the evidence to these must be extremely clear. What I have seen in the past is ideologies usually trump reason and in those cases I usually fault the ideologue. I haven’t been a hawk on Mr. Barton but have seen interviews on the Daily Show and from what I have seen there and read (recently on his history of George Washington) he has been open to correction if the evidence points in that direction. As little as I know Mr. Barton I know the writer of this article even less. So as a discernible person it’s wise to raise these questions.

    Now to the comments from those who mock the questions…

    This raise a red flag but doesn’t prohibit me from further listening to your point of view and what you have experienced. If you want to have a civil conversation then please do. If not then continue to marginalize yourself.

  29. 29
    meursalt

    Hi Altman Blaudio,

    I usually just lurk here, but I think I can help address some of your questions. Some other posters clearly think you’re just trolling, but I trust that your questions are sincere. I’ll address your questions one by one.

    -[Was the book set in the 1850's, and if not, how did Barton arrive at that date?]

    I’m not familiar with the book, and I’m too lazy to look it up, but most literature in this genre is set two or three decades later, as evidenced by the presence of brass cartridges, repeating carbines, land rushes/homesteading, and gold rushes. So your question is fair. As to how Barton arrived at his date, you would have to ask him this question. As usual with him, he doesn’t provide the information needed to consult his original sources, if he indeed has any.

    -[Is it possible Barton and L'Amour used a common source?]

    I can’t speak for Chris here, but this possibility did occur to me. If this is the case, why didn’t Barton bother to cite his source, or provide any specific information that would help track down this event in contemporary sources? Barton is the person making a claim which stretches credulity (for reasons other posters have mentioned). As such, he has a responsibility to support his claim. Since we’re dealing with history, a simple citation of a specific contemporary source would do wonders for his credibility on this point. He provides no such citation.

    -”Is this the first time you pondered these questions?”

    Again, I can’t speak for Chris here, but these questions did occur to me. As stated above, they would carry more weight if Barton would just provide even a little evidence for his claim. You question whether ideology may be biasing Chris and the commenters here against Mr. Barton. I think this is a fair question. There probably is some bias against Mr. Barton at this point, but for good reasons, based on prior experiences. If you’re really that concerned about ideological bias, do a web search for “Throckmorton Barton” and you can find plenty of critiques and debunking of Mr Barton from sources whose ideologies may be closer to your own. Mr. Barton has stretched is credibility to the point that even conservative Christian pundits have been distancing themselves from him and his claims.

    -”What confirmed previous experiences…”

    This is really the crux of the matter, isn’t it? This question is the main reason people are ridiculing you. I’ll make it very simple for you: Look through the archives on this blog. Ignore anything with “Sunday Funnies,” “MRFF,” or “Christian Fighter Pilot” in the title. The bulk of the remaining posts should be debunkings of Mr Barton, and documentation of his failure to address valid criticisms of his work. Ms. Rodda isn’t the most prolific blogger, since she apparently devotes most of her writing time to her books, so it really won’t take much of your time to do a quick review of the last year or two of posts.

    Chris Rodda his literally (heheh) written the book on Mr. Barton’s poor support of his claims. So yes, she has indeed had prior experiences that might lead her to be suspicious of any uncited anecdotes Mr. Barton offers.

    I hope this information helps you understand the general attitude toward Barton’s work on this blog. No one here, least of all Chris, is obligated to give you a “Cliff’s Notes” version of events, since you can find everything you’re asking for with a few mouse clicks without even leaving this blog.

  30. 30
    Chris Rodda

    Altman Blaudio …

    If you’d rather watch videos, there are a bunch on my homepage addressing the numerous history lies Barton has told on Glenn Beck’s show and elsewhere: http://www.liarsforjesus.com/

    If you’re a reader, I made my entire 2006 book Liars For Jesus available as a free PDF: http://www.liarsforjesus.com/downloads/LFJ_FINAL.pdf

    You can also search this blog, and also the blog talk2action.org, for David Barton’s name and you’ll find the many, many posts I’ve written over the years debunking his lies.

  31. 31
    broboxley OT

    On Louis L’Amour
    He researched the geography and the general history of an area and told that via fictitious families covering the US west between 1820 thru the end of that century . The general history is accurate, the stories being stories are oaters of the best kind. He treated Indians in his books quite accurately and fairly. As far as shootouts being rare read some samuel clemens on his time spent in Virginia City during the gold rush era. The folks in L’Amour’s books tended to be much more accurate though.

    I have spent the odd vacation travelling to some of the locations in his books and the geography is accurate and interesting

    As soon as I saw that quote I knew Barton had been cribbing

  32. 32
    Altman Blaudio

    Thanks for the information. I will definitely dive in a little deeper.

    As far as comparing in general what has been posted in the past to this post, would previous posts match what is written here?

    The reason I ask is that I don’t see evidence to the contrary that his claims are invalid. Rather I see a burden of proof resting on the person making the claim. Which since that is lacking the conclusion seems to be he is misrepresenting or even worse using fiction as fact. I don’t think a conclusion can be reached unless one of two things are met…and I understand one requires more work than the other. That being, disproving his claim by exhaustively researching all historical events in 1850 would be one way and the other as you have aptly pointed out the person making the claim providing the evidence to back it up. Without one of those two things happening all we have is conjecture. Now there is also the road of what reaches the level of accepted evidence but we can save that for a later date.

    If I find that previous posts are like this one then we have a possible case of conjecture built upon conjecture.

    If you have one post or vid that clearly seals the deal on Barton telling outright fabrications I would appreciate a little guidance. For me I would not use this article as an example of outright fabrications. If not, I understand and will peruse at my leisure.

    I find it kinda ballsy that Barton would pick a date out thin air and for someone in his line of work credibility seems to be needed. But then again so would a televangelist.

    As far as citing sources on a TV show. I think that is a standard you want that isn’t one. It would be nice but I have seen on several other networks comments being made without sources cited.

    I have read the Throckmorton and Barton’s response as well. That is a weedy discussion. I can revisit and post to a more relative article…if one exists on this site.

    Thanks and more to come.

  33. 33
    jayhawk

    The statement “we’re talking in elementary school — all the kids pull their guns out” is simply not plausible, especially considering the value of guns in the 1850 and the technology involved in the pre-Civil War era. For any such claim, the burden is on Barton to provide a source. Otherwise, everyone is justified to dismiss it as pure fantasy; the same as if he would have said the kids used their martial arts skills to subdue the gunman.

  34. 34
    noxiousnan

    @#28 –

    “Was the Louis Lamour book set in the 1850′s?
    –This question raises two possible points. The first being if the book is not set in 1850 then how did Barton come to that date. The second being if this was not considered when writing this article then there appears to be an ideological difference rather than the want of getting to the truth.”

    How are your two possible points relevant? Who cares? Well, you do clearly, so why expect Chris Rodda to find the answers that you care about? It’s not relevant at all to the subject of the post, whether Barton lied or not. It doesn’t matter when the book is set. It matters whether or not Barton got the idea from this fictional work or not. Barton need only source the historical evidence which, if it exists at all, may or may not have inspired a L’Amour book. Personally, I had considered the date at least enough to recognize its irrelevance. You considered it. I considered it. Why presume that Rodda would not have done the same thing? To make such an assumption would imply a stance based on ideology.

    “Is it possible Mr. Lamour used a historical to help write his book? –This question mainly raises the issue of taking a stance based on ideology rather than research.”

    Sure it’s possible. Who can answer this question? Barton. How would Rodda know where Barton got the story? Rodda is asking Barton where he got the story. In light of its close resemblance to a work of fiction, it behooves Barton to source the story. I personally don’t see any reason to question the motives of Rodda’s expectation that public speakers not lie, and to ask for proof of a thing once a question of the accuracy of that thing comes to light. I think it’s relevant.

    “Is this the first time you pondered these questions? And if so why do you think that is?
    –This is to determine if there is an even playing field when critiquing another. If you are willing to put out such thoughts without being fair to all sides then really it’s an article to reinforce ideologies you already hold to be true. And to be clothed as something that is intellectually balanced is a form of deceit which I tend to steer away from.” AND “What confirmed previous experiences have you had with David Barton that lead you to think cynically or dismissively of David Barton? “

    I guess that means that every single time you read an article of any interest to you, you then contact the author to suss out their motives and ask them if they have really thought everything through? Do you give them pointers too? I find such activities to be significantly arrogant myself.

    “Now to the comments from those who mock the questions…”

    Written as though to imply there was not good reason to mock the questions.

  35. 35
    meursalt

    @Altman Blaudio

    That being, disproving his claim by exhaustively researching all historical events in 1850 would be one way and the other as you have aptly pointed out the person making the claim providing the evidence to back it up. Without one of those two things happening all we have is conjecture. Now there is also the road of what reaches the level of accepted evidence but we can save that for a later date.

    Jayhawk in #33 sums up the core objection to this claim from Barton. Let’s set aside for a moment Barton’s history, and standards of evidence (I agree that this is a separate discussion, where we may indeed disagree. But standards cannot be applied to evidence that is not presented).

    You seem to be saying that you think the case is ambiguous in the absence of evidence one way or the other. If I’m misreading you, I apologize. You may or may not be aware, but this blog network is run by and geared towards skeptics and atheists. One of the common core values of these movements is that we should do our best to to apply rigorous critical thinking wherever possible. And the general consensus among those who do critical thinking is that in the absence of any evidence whatsoever, a claim should be dismissed as untrue, with a level of certainty proportionate to the implausibility of the claim. I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial here. If you don’t agree with this method of critical thinking, then our worldviews are so different that we are not likely to reach consensus on the topic at hand, at least not within the time I’m willing to devote to the discussion.

    The case against Barton’s credibility has been presented to you in several formats. You can accept it or not.

    And to Chris, I just wanted to thank you before relurking. Barton’s documentaries and books have caught some traction within my state government, and the local school boards are pushing to implement Bible courses, presumably of the sort that reference his work. So I appreciate that someone is devoting time to do basic factchecking of his work. It’s a shame that it’s necessary.

  36. 36
    falstaff

    @ Altman Blaudio: As far as I know L’Amour’s novel was set at the end of the Civil War.

    I’m not sure what this means; “Is it possible Mr. Lamour used a historical to help write his book”?

    What is “a historical”? L’Amour was well known for his historical research, much to the detriment of his prose. There may have been an incident like the one he describes.

    “What confirmed previous experiences have you had with David Barton that lead you to think cynically or dismissively of David Barton?”

    Are you shitting me? Are you cereal?

  37. 37
    noxiousnan

    meursalt @35 – off topic,

    Based on your dialogue here I humbly suggest you consider de-lurking more often.

  38. 38
    Altman Blaudio

    I’m not close minded enough to think that it is implausible for something like Barton described to occur. I definitely believe that he should cite his source when asked. I believe in the manner he was asked could’ve been a less confrontational but that’s neither here nor there. He should respond regardless.

    In regards to the format for the case against Barton’s work. I don’t think format matters or adds validity. It’s the content within the format. If the content is in the same manner as this then it’s all conjecture.

    To put it another way…or raise the stakes. If Barton was willing to testify under penalties of perjury would you give any credence to his statement? And to flip that would Chris be willing to testify under penalties of perjury that Barton is lying about this statement?

    The only point being it kinda goes back to the character of the person. As I said earlier I will peruse at my leisure the other posts. If there is one that is a clear cut case I would appreciate the heads up to expedite this search.

    To take this article more than just a call out to Barton to put up or shut up would be a mistake in my opinion. There simply isn’t any other evidence other than conjecture to say he made it up.

    I will email his group as well and see what comes of it.

    Take care.

  39. 39
    falstaff

    “There simply isn’t any other evidence other than conjecture to say he made it up.”

    David Barton has admitted to making things up.

  40. 40
    Altman Blaudio

    Ah, I forgot one thing.

    What if it proves that what he is saying is true? What does it mean? I doubt that people would accept children to carry guns. Which I don’t think was Mr. Barton’s point.

    But if there is a need to commit energy to this topic what does it mean if, IF it is true?

    If it means nothing then why spend this energy to see if it’s true?

  41. 41
    Menyambal

    Altman Blaudio: “I’m not close minded enough to think that it is implausible for something like Barton described to occur.”

    Altman, does “implausible” mean “impossible” to you? Is “close minded” not an insult where you come from?

    Several people have given reasons that it is unlikely for a bunch of school children to have been carrying guns at that time. That, to me, makes the story implausible. Yet you use the term “close minded” for those who are open to the implausibility of the story.

    By the way, the parts of the book, Bendigo Shafter, that I found online mentioned 1859 as quite recent in the early part, and later parts mention event at the end of the Civil War as news. So, no, the story does not take place in the 1850s.

  42. 42
    dogmeat

    Altman Blaudio,

    While you have no reason to accept my word on the matter, I can tell you, as an historian, Barton gives the profession a black eye (and a broken nose, as well as a swift kick in the crotch). In my opinion, his methodology is garbage, his integrity is non existent. Chris has done a truly impressive job slogging through his false claims, properly researching his oft poorly cited sources, and then providing the evidence that clearly proves either incompetence or dishonesty on his part. He has a long history of admitting his source was flawed, misquoted, or quote mined, but then simply reusing the source and/or reciting the claim despite its falsified nature.

    In this case there are some serious historical anachronisms that have been pointed out, but I will summarize. In the 1850s firearms were both expensive and quirky, handguns even more so. A pre-teen with a handgun in the time period Barton purports would have been roughly akin to a pre-teen owning their own automobile or home today (as has been pointed out). A room full of them is downright laughable. If one makes a fantastic claim, the burden of proof falls firmly on their shoulders. Given Barton’s history, it is not unreasonable to dismiss the claim prior to the presentation of such evidence. Given that a fictional source has been provided that includes a story strikingly similar to the one presented by Barton, logic and evidence support the conclusion that Barton is likely guilty of plagiarism. In such a case, with the evidence provided, it again falls on Barton to counter those arguments and provide evidence of an historical case that, at the bare minimum, may have inspired his claim. Arguing that these logical conclusions are somehow prejudiced or unfair to Barton is unreasonable. Expecting those who have already presented the evidence that these claims are similar to Barton’s other falsified claims to present more evidence is equally unreasonable.

  43. 43
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    @busterggi:

    (wearing my extremely geeky Superman fandom hat from my preteenage years) – You know that there actually was a Superman issue VERY long ago where either Superman or Superboy (can’t remember which) did go back in time to prevent the assassination, and was prevented from doing so by Lex Luthor. Don’t think it was in the way you suggested, though.

    (I’m so embarrassed that I remember that…)

  44. 44
    coleopteron

    @Gvlgeologist, FCD:

    I believe it was Superboy attempting to determine whether events in time could be altered in some way. As it turns out, in the pre-silver age Superman universe anyway, time can’t be changed. Any attempt to do so would result in something implausible happening to stop him, like the future Lex Luthor having accidentally shown up at the same time and going after Supes when he found him there.

    Oddly, he was pretty broken up about it when he found he’d assured Lincoln’s death, considering his super-villainous tendencies and fandom of history’s dictators.

    As to the original topic, I’m certain Barton doesn’t care about the accuracy of his sources. As long as his audience doesn’t either, he’ll be fine. There’s a big market for telling people what they want to hear.

  45. 45
    paulburnett

    Altman Blaudio: “What confirmed previous experiences have you had with David Barton that lead you to think cynically or dismissively of David Barton?”

    I will give you the benefit of the doubt that you really are an innocent pilgrim and not a volunteer (or paid!) agent provocateur – or even David Barton! (Or a student of Bill Dembski’s at the Southern Evangelical Seminary, where students can get extra points for trolling “evilutionist” blogs.)

    David Barton was the star of Chris Rodda’s book, “Liars For Jesus” – he is not a historian, but he does have a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education (i.e., “Lying For Jesus”) from Oral Roberts “University,” an infamous Bible college. Barton is widely reviled outside the delusional world of the fundagelicals / Christian Nationalists for being a pseudohistorian as opposed to an actual historian. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Barton_(author)

    Now, if you didn’t already know any of that, how did you wind up here at Chris’ blog?

  46. 46
    zb24601

    I guess David Barton had gotten too lazy to make up his own lies about history.

  47. 47
    uzza

    Oh, FFS. I know grade school kids, and this story never happened.

  48. 48
    usingreason

    If Barton was willing to testify under penalties of perjury would you give any credence to his statement?

    Barton and his ilk believe strongly that lieing for Jesus is a valid tactic to advance their agenda. I do not believe that taking an oath, on the bible or otherwise, would affect that. In the past when confronted with incontrovertible evidence of his lies he has continued to maintain that they are the truth.

  49. 49
    Altman Blaudio

    @ dogmeat

    Apologies but I don’t take a strangers word. No offense intended. As far as the logical point of kids carrying a high priced item like a handgun. That is very logical. But not evidence to the contrary. I’m fine with a skeptical eye. I just don’t think it does anyone any service to judge without cold hard facts. As I stated earlier if previous posts are like this one then it’s building on top of jell-o. BUT it looks like the book is the place to start. So I will definitely give it a read! Thanks for the conversation!

    @ paulburnett

    That’s kind of you to not automatically assume I’m some agent. Especially with no evidence. I can assure you I am not Mr. Barton or agent. Just a person floating through time…if time existed. As far as ending up here this article was passed on by one of my close atheist friends. We mainly talk about history.

    @ usingreason

    I don’t think and don’t really know if Barton would testify after swearing to tell the truth. Now, to be honest if he did swear upon the bible he would be violating one of God’s rules which a lot of christians do and it may be of ignorance. The second no,no would be lying in the name of God. Which I don’t think he would do. Now contrary to many christians there is a time where one is able to lie but Barton doesn’t strike me as the type of christian who holds to that belief. I think testifying under penalties of perjury would give some weight to his statement but not necessarily make it true.

    @ ALL

    I’ll need to read the book mentioned and hopefully by that time I have received an answer to this story from WallBuilders…if I do, I will post here first!

  50. 50
    Raging Bee

    On the one hand, the event described in the novel COULD have happened. OTOH, if Barton can’t cite evidence of this event occurring in real life — or, let’s face it, even if he could — that’s still an incredibly lame and lazy way to “justify” arming CHILDREN, as opposed to, say, hiring more cops so kids could go to school and get a good education without being in fear for their lives every day.

    (And why are we supposed to think that a guy using children to avoid accountability for his past actions is a GOOD outcome? Did anyone think of calling the local sherrif and putting the guy on trial to determine whether he really did commit any crimes? Did anyone question what sort of guy they were trusting with the safety of their children?)

    We’re talking about policies that affect the lives of children, and this shit is all Barton cares to come up with? This just shows how little he cares about lives or education.

  51. 51
    Raging Bee

    The second no,no would be lying in the name of God. Which I don’t think he would do.

    Excuse me for being rude, but HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW! Right-wing Christians like Barton lie in the name of their God every damn day, and they keep on lying — and suckers like you keep on believing them — no matter how many times they’re explicitly corrected by others.

    Remember the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial? We got nothing but lies from right-wing Christians, and they never even admitted they were lying, let alone repented any of it.

    Seriously, Altman, do you even care enough to listen to what these liars are saying?

  52. 52
    Elf_Owl

    I am glad those gun-totin’ schoolchildren said “We like our teacher.” Does the interview go on to tell about what happened on the day they decided they did not like their teacher anymore?

  53. 53
    Altman Blaudio

    @ Rage

    I don’t think the point was advocating for armed children. I think the point was and only was that children need not be afraid of guns. They aren’t a bad thing, inherently. It’s what you do with it. I believe there is a sort of indoctrination going on with guns and kids. So the next batch of “taught” citizens will accept the controlling nature of a paternalistic government.

    Unlike you I don’t associate the misdeeds of people to a group…unless the groups charter/mission statement is to do harm, e.g. KKK. I let the individual stand on their merits. Oh, and I never once said I believe Barton. You inferred that through my questioning of the “evidence” in this story. That’s not an honest thing to do. I’m also not familiar with the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial. But I don’t think I need to know that trial to know people will lie whether they be christian or atheist. If Barton does lie in the name of God then there is a bigger problem. I also like how you left out my comment on televangelists indicating I already know they lie.

    And seriously Rage do you even care to keep this conversation out of the land of conjecture?

    If you have the time please answer the questions below…I am truly interested in your answers.

    What if it proves that what he is saying is true? What does it mean?
    – I think the point was and only was that children need not be afraid of guns.

    But if there is a need to commit energy to this topic what does it mean if, IF it is true?

    If it means nothing then why spend this energy to see if it’s true?

  54. 54
    freetotebag

    I love the one detail that Barton adds to the story:

    “A guy — he’s out in the West — this guy from New England wants to kill him and find him.”

    He just can’t help taking a swipe at East Coast Elites.

    Actually, if any of Barton’s fans follow the Christian Apologist operating procedure, they will probably point to that minor change as the “proof” that Barton’s story is true (like how they “prove” that the Jesus story is not just a rehash of earlier legends by pointing to the minor details that are unique to the NT).

  55. 55
    Mike Morrison

    Altman Baludio @32.

    Perhaps others have already addressed this at some point last year, but I couldn’t help myself posting this for the benefit of potential future readers:

    ” I don’t think a conclusion can be reached unless one of two things are met…and I understand one requires more work than the other. That being, disproving his claim by exhaustively researching all historical events in 1850 would be one way and the other as you have aptly pointed out the person making the claim providing the evidence to back it up. Without one of those two things happening all we have is conjecture.”

    This isn’t how it works. It isn’t up to Chris Rodda, or anyone, to “exhaustively research all historical events” in order to prove Mr. Barton a liar. Particularly if he fails to provide a source of his lies. Rather, it is up to the person making a claim to provide evidence and sources for their claims. After all, you cannot prove a negative.

    If I were to say that there is a living bowl of spaghetti floating out there in outer space called “The Spaghetti Monster,” and scientists scoff at the idea; it isn’t up to those scientists to scour the depths of space to prove me wrong. Indeed, that would be virtually impossible. Rather, the burden of proof falls on me to prove that such a thing exists. That is how the scientific method works.

    That is also why our modern legal system is set up in such a way where a prosecutor must prove the suspect to be guilty. Over the course of centuries of human history, we have come to the conclusion that it is far easier for the accuser to prove guilt, than it is for the accused to prove innocence.

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