Let me first praise David Simon for his terrific book, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets which spawned one of the greatest American TV series in history, Homicide: Life on the Street. I also hear The Wire is great.
Praise complete. Now I’ll bury this Hollywood liberal bully.
Simon presses the liberal agenda of White American Guilt in his oh-so-noble praise of the new film 12 Years a Slave, which also demonstrates how yet another Hollywood know-it-all has absolutely no understanding of our Constitution. This is particularly galling because Simon is an accomplished journalist, and his work on Homicide demonstrated equal compassion for all human beings.
Simon praises Slave’s emotional honesty and narrative fairness, saying, “for once, the escapism, bluster and simple provocation that marks a good 95 percent of our film output has been somehow flanked, and subversively so.” This alone is enough to get me to consider seeing the film, though the words of a Jewish college pal regarding Holocaust films echoes in my mind: “I don’t need Hollywood to revivify the Holocaust for me.” I feel the same way about slavery. I’ve written before that capturing evil on film is likely impossible in narrative form. That somehow a movie is going to elevate my understanding of slavery seems unlikely.
However, Simon goes off the rails when he presents the tired argument that because the Founding Fathers had slaves, the Constitution itself is fruit of the poisonous tree. Therefore, if you support “original intent” when interpreting the Constitution, you are a racist.
If original intent included the sadism and degradation of human slavery, then original intent is a legal and moral standard that can be consigned to the ash heap of human history. Hardcore conservatives and libertarians who continue to parse the origins of the Constitutions under the guise of returning to a more perfect American union are on a fool’s journey to decay and dishonor.
Except Simon has constructed a straw man “if-then” proposition, because that’s not what “original intent” means. One such definition is, “…“original intent” can be ascertained by review of the historical context of the issue being addressed and goals that must have been in the minds of the framers of the Constitution as they wrote the words. Usually the authors and signers of a Constitution will have written privately and/or publicly about the document or the various issued addressed within.”
Originalism itself has many definitions and subsets, with many legal analyses littering the internet. Yet Simon claims that because the Founders were not perfect, and some (12 of the 55 at the Constitutional Convention) owned slaves, the goals in the minds of the framers are racist, invalidating the entire document or original intent reading thereof, making them morally abhorrent. It’s typical Alinsky, by the way–frame your opponent as a racist, call him a racist–now he’ll be seen as a racist.
However, if you ask most conservatives and libertarians what “original intent” means to them in just a few words, they repeat the words of Patrick Henry: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” In other words, Mr. Simon, “original intent” means “limited government,” and not having liberal justices treat the Constitution as a “living, breathing document” whose interpretation changes with whomever is on the judicial bench at the time.
To be more specific, Simon and all his liberal pals would benefit by viewing Bill Whittle’s outstanding series “What We Believe” and maybe take a class in the Federalist papers, for no sane person equates slavery with a “perfect union” or “original intent.” The Founding Fathers were not perfect. America was not perfect. That’s exactly why the Constitution created a mechanism for amending the document. What’s troubling is that Simon–a smart and accomplished individual–is either ignorant regarding what Conservatism is really about, or (more likely) he’s being a typical liberal bully.
Here’s why I assert Simon is a bully. His own words reveal him to be a petty, nasty, mean-spirited guy. “…anything I’ve ever accomplished as a writer, as somebody doing TV, anything I’ve ever done in life, down to, like, cleaning up my room, has been accomplished because I was going to show people that they were [bleeped] up, wrong, and that I was the [bleeping] center of the universe and the sooner they got hip to that, the happier they would all be.”
This petulant, childish Leftist can’t even clean up his room without showing people he’s the [bleeping] center of the universe. Yet, we’re expected to take his word as to what “original intent” means? It certainly does not include “sadism and degradation of human slavery.” What it means to liberals like Simon is yet another excuse to tear up the Constitution, force big government onto the people, and have liberal ideology rule the day. In other words, make us all slaves to government.