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Monday, April 13, 2015

Speaking Of Jefferson And Memes

Well, goddammit, dKos:

Yes, yes, very nice.  Hahaha, Congress blathers on, and Jefferson--author of the first manual for our Senate--totes knew it.  

What's more, the quotation is even 100% accurate!  Yet it loses so much without the context.

This comes from Jefferson's autobiography of 1821.  He was reminiscing about the Treaty of Paris, ending our War of Independence almost 40 years prior, and his anxiety about Congress getting its collective act together to ratify the document.

Our body was little numerous, but very contentious. Day after day was wasted on the most unimportant questions.

A member, one of those afflicted with the morbid rage of debate, of an ardent mind, prompt imagination, and copious flow of words, who heard with impatience any logic which was not his own, sitting near me on some occasion of a trifling but wordy debate, asked me how I could sit in silence, hearing so much false reasoning, which a word should refute?

I observed to him, that to refute indeed was easy, but to silence was impossible; that in measures brought forward by myself, I took the laboring oar, as was incumbent on me; but that in general I was willing to listen; that if every sound argument or objection was used by some one or other of the numerous debaters, it was enough; if not, I thought it sufficient to suggest the omission, without going into a repetition of what had been already said by others: that this was a waste and abuse of the time and patience of the House, which could not be justified.

And I believe that if the members of deliberate bodies were to observe this course generally, they would do in a day what takes them a week; and it is really more questionable than may at first be thought, whether Bonaparte's dumb legislature, which said nothing and did much, may not be preferable to one which talks much and does nothing.

Yes, and Bonaparte made the post run on time.  I'm sure the folks at dKos would love a more productive GOP Congress.

Jefferson continued:

I served with General Washington in the legislature of Virginia, before the Revolution, and, during it, with Dr. Franklin in Congress. I never heard cither of them speak ten minutes at a time, nor to any but the main point which was to decide the question. They laid their shoulders to the great points, knowing that the little ones would follow of themselves.

If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise, in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour? That one hundred and fifty lawyers should do business together, ought not to be expected. But to return again to our subject...

Remember, the man thought he possessed no gift of oratory, and sent his annual messages to Congress in written form.  Small wonder he wouldn't tolerate a lot of gab.

Anyway, with the rich veins of written thoughts available, this is the quotation our friends at Orange Satan chose to meme-ify?  What a waste...


April 13, 2015 | Permalink


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Oh, you're no fun anymore!

What's the point of quoting people if you can't take it out context? (This, in fact, is why I tell my students not to quote sources, especially in research papers. What sounds good in the context of the original, becomes something else again when stripped of all context and dropped into what is, essentially, a very different context. Too bad Jefferson turns out to be so "quotable.")

Posted by: Rmj | Apr 14, 2015 8:14:23 AM

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