When we hear the term “muck raking,” we almost automatically go in our heads to politicos and specifically those who “report” on politicians and their antics. There’s a good reason why we associate the phrase that way. And much of it goes back to the 1st decade of the 20th Century, when calls in earnest were coming from the media to chance how Senators would be elected.
In the early 1900’s, President Theodore Roosevelt began to label those in the press who attacked him or the government as “muck rakers,” a term he has borrowed from a book written in 1678 and well known to Christians even today, Pilgrim’s Progress.
But it was over the US Senate that the muck-rakers, as they even began to call themselves, really began to strike a blow against what they perceived as government corruption and the failure of the US Senate. When William Randolph Hearst began to promote the attacks against the Senators such as Nelson Aldrich of Rhode Island, it became increasingly clear that facts were no longer relevant to the discussion. Whether there was or was not any truth in the accusations or the stories of gridlock and failure by the States no longer matters. When one Senator was exposed as a corrupt and evil man, it reflected upon the entire body.
When what would become the 17th Amendment was first introduced, it faced an uphill battle. As time went by, and as more and more of the muck-rakers “uncovered” scandals and perceived injustices, it gained traction. In 1912 it would be adopted by Congress and in 1913 it would be ratified by the requisite number of States.
And in that lies the story of how the press can change the vision of the Framers and the US Constitution…
This week the 4th Circuit Court, ruling en banc, ruled that a Maryland State law banning “assault weapons” is Constitutional. The Court ruled that those weapons were “military” in nature and therefore they are not covered by the restrictions of the 2nd Amendment.
Conservatives are outraged. Progressives are ecstatic. Who is correct? Is it as simple as “I am conservative therefore the Court is wrong” or “I am progressive so the Court is right?” Did the 4th really ignore the precedents of Heller and other cases dealing with the 2nd Amendment?
In order to understand the issue, one has to consider two competing syllogism and their underlying axioms:
(A) All guns are military weapons.
Ownership of military guns should be restricted to the military.
Therefore the individual ownership of all guns should be restricted.
(B) All guns are military weapons.
The Militia is a military unit.
Individual ownership of all guns are protected by the 2nd Amendment.
Remember that in order to reach a valid conclusion, the basic assumptions of the axiom must be true. If the underlying presumption is false, the logic, regardless of how brilliant, will reach an invalid conclusion.
Did the Court base its ruling in a good axiom or upon a flawed presumption?
In 1788, Fishkill, New York, was a well known and important city, having once served as the Capitol of New York State. It was also the home of the largest supply depot of the Continental Army. And Fishkill had its own newspaper, The New York Packet, later known as Louden’s New York Packet.
It was this newspaper, on Tuesday, February 19, 1788, that published another in a series of essays which were rapidly taking the country by storm. The essays were anonymous and while there was much speculation as to the authorship, only four or five people (not counting the writers themselves) in the entire nation could say with any certainty that they knew who the author – or authors – was. Even George Washington pretended to not know as he praised the essays and proclaimed, “Who is the author?” In fact, he had been directly told by the authors that they were in fact, the authors. Read the rest of this entry