Sep 202010

Back on Independence Day, I wrote a post that featured a quotation from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

In the comments, my dad totally called me out, because my quotation omitted the phrase ‘by their Creator’ that appears between ‘they are endowed […] with certain unalienable rights.’

Ctrl+C, as I said, was not my friend, and neither was Wikipedia, which is where I Ctrl+C’d from.

Turns out, as many of you may have seen floating around the series of tubes, that Obama did the same thing in a recent speech, and omitted ‘by their Creator’ from his quotation.

Now, if I omitted ‘by their Creator,’ and Obama omitted ‘by their Creator,’ and I got my quotation from Wikipedia, then perhaps Obama

No. Surely not. Surely the President of the United States, the renowned scholar of American and constitutional history, the guy whose brain (his supporters would have you believe) is even greater than the cranial contents of the awesomely intelligent William J Clinton, is not sourcing his speech quotations from… Wikipedia?

Just sayin’.

  14 Responses to “Detectoring”

  1. I love that quote, complete or not. It’s so simple and to the point. And to think, it was writen by people who were, up to that point in history, British subjects. Where did it all go wrong on these small Isles?

  2. Wikipedia notwithstanding, could it be that the difference between your omission and Obama’s is that you omitted “by their Creator” by mistake?

    • Could be. And there are some who would ask, on what basis do we say all men are created equal if (a) there is no Creator, and (b) what other measure of equality can there be?

      • Very good question, bella.

      • But there’s no guarantee a Creator would make all men equal either, is there? Nor particularly practical guidance on how to judge men from beasts, hence all that slavery business.

        Regarding (b), is there anyone actually suggesting you need some Ultimate Arbiter to determine whether any two things are sufficiently similar for our purposes? I thought we only needed big beards in the sky to tell us whether one thing is better than another.

  3. I prefer your and Obama’s version.

  4. Probably not. But the people who write the speeches for him? They might…

  5. One of the great modern myths is that various politicians are endowed with intellects as capacious as the late Rt Hon Cyril Smith’s trousers.They are clever men and women, in the sense that there are autistic people who can give you the day on which you were born as soon as you give them the date and the year, but they rarely have genuine intellectual prowess. And that’s all true; I got it from a cereal packet.

  6. I’ve always had a problem with that bit… not the creator bit or the inalienable rights bit: the all created equal bit as it is so self-evidently not true.

    • I don’t think they’re referring to mathematical equality, more a compound, hand-wavey, general sort of comparison. Equally deserving of those inalienable rights.

  7. isn’t it:
    ” … One Nation, under God … “?
    ‘Nuff said.

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