December 30, 2010

Ezra Klein Less Well-Educated Than Thought

Twitter users have been ripping Ezra Klein apart for his dim-witted televised pronouncement that the Constitution is too difficult to understand because the document was written "more than 100 years ago."

The thing is that Klein isn't nearly done on displaying his ignorance of the Constitution, baring his ignorance for all to see in print as well.

My friends on the right don't like to hear this, but the Constitution is not a clear document. Written more than 200 years ago, when America had 13 states and very different problems, it rarely speaks directly to the questions we ask it. The Second Amendment, for instance, says nothing about keeping a gun in the home if you've not signed up with a "well-regulated militia," but interpreting the Second Amendment broadly has been important to those who want to bear arms. And so they've done it.

The contextual ignorance Klein puts on display in this one simple paragraph is stunning.

Anyone with a decent classical education would know that "well-regulated" in this context has nothing to do with a legislation. When something is "regulated," it is brought into a state of uniformity. Something that is "well-regulated" is in proper working order, or in colloquial terms "well-oiled." It functions smoothly.

The purpose of the Founders, easily reinforced by the their own writing, was to assure that the civilian militias could function effectively in their military role. They wanted America's citizens to shoot, and shoot well. They wanted us to be able to fight, defending both our rights and our communities.

That Klein—a supposed intellectual—is dim to this rather common definition simply lends credence to the theory that a "liberal" education involves very little actual education at all.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at December 30, 2010 02:05 PM

I'm sure that he feels that what he is saying is true. In a modern liberal education, feelings trump knowledge. He feels like it's too difficult to understand then it is too difficult to understand.

Posted by: Jason at December 30, 2010 03:22 PM

one question no anti-gun zealot has ever been able to answer for me is how they can contend "the people" in the second amendment only refers to a "group right" without rendering the individual protections they cherish in the first, fourth, ninth and tenth amendments group rights also, since they too reference "the people" .

either "the people" consistently refers to an individual right or it doesn't. anything else is sophistry, at best.

Posted by: redc1c4 at December 30, 2010 04:18 PM

He's right. The Constitution DOESN'T say anything about needing to be "signed up with a "well-regulated militia..." in order to keep a military capable weapon at home.

I always ask these people to produce for me citations of laws passed by the new government that OUTLAW the possession of firearms by private citizens. Where are the public notices directing citizens to turn in their weapons to the local armory? Where are the records of prosecutions of people for not doing so?

Why does he think that the Constitution OUTLAWS everything for private citizens that it does not specifically permit -- when it does precisely the opposite? Oh. Right. He had a liberal education.

I mean, I learned this stuff in GRADE SCHOOL!!

What does he think a Minuteman was? Oh. Right. His girlfriend probably knows.

Posted by: Bill Smith at December 30, 2010 08:51 PM

Yes well you don't need to be smart to qualify as a progressive intellectual. You just need to be able to emote the right feeling in support of your argument. "Duh, I don't get it" Said with a certain disdain is oh so persuasive. I guess.

Posted by: Cameron at December 31, 2010 03:25 AM

In fact, the Constitution does give Congress some regulatory powers over the militia. See Article I, paragraphs 15 and 16. Further, Congress has in fact regulated the militia, beginning with the Militia Act of 1792. (Note that I think the right to bear arms was intended to be individual, and not collective, even if the militia was regulated.)

I suppose now you will explain that "regulate" in Section 8 doesn't mean "regulate," but something else. That rather proves Ezra's point that the Constituition can be interpreted differently.

Further, as Ezra said, the House's constitutional citations on its bills would not be binding, because the Constitution doesn't give the House the sole discretion in deciding the constitutionality of its own legislation. Making the House's constitutional citations binding would be unconstitutional, in other words. The laws could still be challenged in court and declared unconstitutional later, no matter what the House says. There's nothing wrong with the citations, but I think you'll soon see that the citations serve no real purpose, which is Ezra's point.

Posted by: maha at December 31, 2010 12:46 PM

Please excuse me -- that last comment should have cited Article I, Section 8, paragraphs 15 and 16. I left out Section 8.

Posted by: maha at December 31, 2010 12:48 PM

I've decide to utilize my marginal bully pulpit in defense of what Ezra Klein was implying. He obviously was not clear enough, perhaps an analogy would do the trick :

Ezra Klein In The Cross-Hairs Of Right Wing Outrage

Posted by: Ryan Colpaart at December 31, 2010 01:22 PM

The problem isn't that the constitution isn't clear-- the problem is it is crystal clear. Read the dicta in both the Heller case SCOTUS and DC Court of Appeals rulings. Pages and pages basically stating- it means what it says. The already existing right the colonists had as Englishmen to keep and bear arms as individuals would not be infringed by the new government.

That's the problems most of the left and people like Klein have. It is a simple, clear and very understandable document- but they don't like what it says and have to try and twist it to argue it means what they would like it to mean.

Posted by: styrgwillidar at January 3, 2011 01:40 PM