Mt. Vernon Statement – how can they not see the irony?

Timothy Kincaid

February 20th, 2010

A collection of America’s most extreme social conservatives have signed onto a new declaration of unanimity called the Mt. Vernon Statement. It has all the usual suspects, including virtually every anti-gay activist out there.

The basic premise of this statement is that they, unlike the rest of the country, truly support the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence:

Each one of these founding ideas is presently under sustained attack. In recent decades, America\’s principles have been undermined and redefined in our culture, our universities and our politics. The selfevident truths of 1776 have been supplanted by the notion that no such truths exist. The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant.

And they call for a return to upholding the principles of our founding documents. They so revere these documents that they met to sign their statement at Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s estate.

The only problem is that they don’t value the ideals of the Constitution. They support life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness… just as long as it is their own. But they most certainly do not support our right to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.

Now – to be fair – most of these folks really wouldn’t call for our execution. Or not publicly. Though in private some probably share the view of Joel McDurmon, the Director of Research for American Vision, who thinks we should be executed. And, of course, Tony Perkins was on hand to oppose tracking those who target us for murder.

But as for “liberty” this group includes its most devoted enemies. Elaine Donnelly is there to oppose our liberty to serve in the military. Richard Viguerie doesn’t think we should have the liberty to “be out there trying to re-order society”.

And oh do they hate our pursuit of happiness. Surely there is no single issue more related to happiness than family, yet not a single signatory believes that I have the right to choose whom I marry, certainly not Ken Blackwell or Edwin Meese. And David McIntosh is on hand to make sure we can’t adopt. Heck, many of them don’t even believe that we should have the right to pursue a little happiness in the privacy of our own bedroom.

Signatory Brent Bozell… he even objects to our playing baseball together and Wendy Wright even objects to our being counted in the US Census. There is not a single right for gay people that these folks support.

I really wish that the signers of this statement would actually embrace the Mt. Vernon Statement. I wish they would champion life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The irony is that they think that they do.


February 20th, 2010

When members of the religious right talk about liberty, they are engaged in deliberate double-coding. They know that most people will read the word “liberty” and think of the dictionary definition, freedom, and shrug their statements off as innocuous.

They also know that their target audience will understand that what they really mean is “Christian liberty,” but in a much narrower sense even than Martin Luther’s. The far-right evangelical definition of liberty is “freedom to follow all Scriptural injunctions, (as understood by the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, and various Presbyterian splinter groups), to the letter.”

The motto of Patrick Henry College, which exists to funnel home-schooled right-wing evangelical kids into jobs in DC, is “For Christ and For Liberty.” (And after that, “Shaping our culture, serving our nation.”)

These people are not really interested in the Declaration of Independence, at least not the one most of us learned about in civics class. They are trying to hollow out the meaning of its words, and pour something radically different into the empty mold.


February 20th, 2010

Protecting the rights of citizens with a constitution is an American invention. Using a constitution to deny citizens rights is a christian perversion.


February 21st, 2010

Also, the thing where the Founders were Deists and TJ even had his own Bible where he cut out all the supernatural bits.


February 21st, 2010

“The only problem is that they don’t value the ideals of the Constitution. They support life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness… just as long as it is their own. ”
This says it all – it’s the foundation of all that is behind the christian rights activities! Yikes!!!
Here in Canada, we understand, value and defend that ‘this’ must be applied equally to all citizens, something the R-R purposefully perverts! Force the R-R to define these values and you’ll find them either stumbling for words that aren’t christian cliches, or running for the hills!


February 21st, 2010

Undoubtedly the authors of this statement had a social con vision in mind, but if one just takes the wording there isn’t anything there that I can see which is objectionable to most Americans – conservative, liberal, moderate, etc. We all just attach different meanings to the words. This statement is meaningless fluff, lacking substance which they know very well if they state just the social con vision would lose support among others.


February 21st, 2010

Ok, I’m in the UK, I’m not American, so I might have this wrong, but isn’t it “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all”, rather than “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”.

I’m not criticising the author here for not finishing it, I’m wondering if the group who signed this document are trying to leave out the “for all” part?

Richard W. Fitch

February 21st, 2010

@RCM – Actually, Timothy quotes correctly. Here is a link to the complete text:
Since it is a declaration made by all the 13 colonies to the Crown, the implication would seem to be for all – except, of course, for women and other slaves and …. It should be noted also that the early draft was worded “life, liberty and property”. The Founders had the good wisdom to modify that it include a far wider implication.


February 21st, 2010

Thank you for that.

It seems to me that they meant “for all” because “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

I can see a problem for women there…but I assume that at some point in USA history it was decided that “men” indicated humankind, rather than “male”, and I know enough history to see that people of certain racial heritage had a struggle to get included, I’m glad those parts are fixed now. I am thinking that to see that as excluding gay people, you would either have to think gay people are not “men”, or not “created”. Maybe some people think that an exclusion applies, because they also think that certain sexual orientations are not created by the Creator.

Eric in Oakland

February 21st, 2010

“It applies the principle of limited government based on the
rule of law to every proposal.”

Apparently they don’t actually believe in the rule of law or limited government any more than they truly believe in individual liberty. Every time the courts make a decision that they don’t agree with (especially upholding the right to individual liberty or limitations on government) they claim that the decisions are contrary to the values of democracy and the founding documents.

Perhaps these people should actually READ the documents they are claiming to support? Or maybe they have read them and just have abysmal reading comprehension skills?

What they call limited government is actually unlimited majoritarian tyranny. What they call individual liberty is actually collectivist Christian dominionism (the exact opposite of individual liberty). What they call defending the family is actually attacking families that differ from their own.

These groups have definitely mastered the art of doublespeak!

Timothy Kincaid

February 21st, 2010

When written, the notion was revolutionary. What they meant was that it was “self evident” that privilege of birth did not entitle one to preferencial treatment.

This “self evident” notion was in conflict with the ENTIRETY of history. Very few cultures did not have some form of nobility or prefernce due to parentage.

Of course, at that time they meant white, male, and property owner. But the principle shined through and, over time, “all” began to be seen as including all citizens without entitlement due to the race, gender, or economic situation of ones birth.

We are simply battling to get the nation to see that we are included in the “all” that are “created equal”.


February 22nd, 2010

Well it does strike me that sexual preference would be the next logical thing to get acknowledged on the “created equal” list, but that is just my opinion.

The thing that was baffling me is the logic of a bunch of people in a country that was founded based on radical ideas, and via revolution to get those ideas put into practice, now claiming that progressive ideas are contrary to the founding principles of that country. Then Timothy posted this article, so I was just pleased to see that there are people in the USA that are stumped too. The fault with their logic looks quite mind blowing from over here.


February 22nd, 2010

Evolution denying, creationist whackos, the lot of them.

Chris Matthews got somewhere near the truth about these brain-dead nutters, and unfortunately these are the very peopel who have chewed away at the Republican party. I hope the GOP vomits them out if it wants to survive as a credible electable party.


February 23rd, 2010

Adrian T,

I believe this planet was created deliberately, is there any such thing in your mind as “evolution denying creationist who is not-whacko?”

I think the problem with documents like the Declaration of Independence is they are written by people who are so smart, that when dumber people try to understand what they meant centuries later, they totally stuff it up.

I do admire Americans for managing to tolerate what some other Americans say. That is a serious belief in freedom of speech going on there. Even “evolution denying creationist whacko”, well let’s face it, it is a fact that they are “evolution denying” and “creationist”, so that makes “whacko” all you are calling them. Considering that some of these people want to kill you, and many more want to deprive you of your basic rights, that is really extremely tolerant.


February 23rd, 2010

It’s a good thing the signees used that fancy-pants font to electronically sign their names. That makes the statement really official and serious.

Richard W. Fitch

February 23rd, 2010

My guess is that the use of the fancy-pants font had two motives. It made a connection to the pen script signatures of the Founding Fathers and at the same time made them more difficult to read.

Timothy Kincaid

February 23rd, 2010

I’m not the greatest at visual presentation, but theirs is abysmal.

The heading and signatures are in one script (edwardian), most of the body is in another (oldglory), but the last part is in a third (Times New Roman).

It leaves the reader confused as to whether the whole wording is part of the signed statement, or if part of it is commentary.

Who is running Anti-Gay, Inc. these days? Their efforts have been getting progressively amateurish.

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