Granted, the warning label on the U.S. Constitution is the decision made by a small publishing company, Wilder Publications, but it does rank on the level of the absurd. You say you haven’t heard about the warning label on new copies of the Constitution? Well, grab a cup of coffee.
Here’s the warning statement: “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.”
The warning is intended to caution people that the Constitution is a document written reflecting the thoughts and beliefs of its time, and does not necessarily reflect current values and understandings. Now that’s a bit of brilliance, isn’t it? And that’s not all! It puts the same warning on all of the founding documents of our country, such as the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, and the Articles of Confederation, among others.
The immediate thought that came to my mind when I first read this news story was, “Are we still teaching the Constitution in our public schools today?” I checked with my sister, Joy, who just retired from teaching high school. She reminded me that the Constitution is taught in eighth grade and again in eleventh grade, all part of the requirements for graduation. My reasoning then is this: Since we are still teaching the Constitution in school, such a warning would be unnecessary.
The major difficulty I have with this statement comes in several forms. First, there is a subtle implication in the warning that the Constitution is not to be taken seriously because it is out-dated. Second, it suggests that there are serious enough flaws as to neutralize its importance. And third, it is rightly acknowledged as a classic piece of literature, but it has no bearing on the way we ought to live in a free society today.
Some might argue that this warning label is an anomaly, and not to be taken seriously. On the surface of it, I would tend to agree. However, after witnessing a constant barrage of attacks on every aspect of our nation’s most important decisions and foundations, I have perhaps become a bit skeptical when it comes to anything that strikes at what I know and believe has been the basis for making the United States a great nation. It is clear to anyone with their eyes open that there is an assault on the core structure of our country. If the founding document, the Constitution, can be relegated to a place of unimportance in the minds of the very people it was intended to liberate, then we are pathetic, a people destined to be enslaved by our own ignorance.
So let me ask you: Have we become so hyper-sensitive in our PC world that we are uncomfortable with our own founding documents? Do you believe that the words in these documents are offensive? If so, offensive to whom?
“The work of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.” This statement sums up for me the wonder of the Constitution: written by men who were inspired by God. It is located at:
The U.S. Constitution is unquestionably the most liberating of all historical documents. We are free today because free men and women have loved freedom enough to sacrifice themselves so that you and I might continue to live in freedom.
Wilder Publications may feel it necessary to place this warning label on the Constitution, but I would advise them that the American people have already placed a warning label on it: “Don’t Tread On Me!”