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declaration of independence

Nik
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11/14/2008 7:24:34 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
Firstly, I would like to say that i realy dont know much about this topic, its realy a question. Why is the declaration of independence so damn important to americans? Surely its historical significance is all thats important about it. But seriously, ive been browsing through the debates, one in particular caught my eye, Homosexual marriage, now i was expecting quite an intresting debate with this topic, so of course i check it out. And what caught my attention immediately was the fact they were arguing their cases on interpretations from the decleration of independance, which i found absolutely absurd, its like trying to pass complicated economic laws to stop this current economic crisis using the magna carta. can someone please clarify this for me, why is there so much modern debate based on a centuries old declaration?
"If you could tell the world but one truth, I could convince it of a thousand lies"
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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11/14/2008 9:33:53 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
At 11/14/2008 7:24:34 AM, Nik wrote:
Firstly, I would like to say that i realy dont know much about this topic, its realy a question. Why is the declaration of independence so damn important to americans? Surely its historical significance is all thats important about it. But seriously, ive been browsing through the debates, one in particular caught my eye, Homosexual marriage, now i was expecting quite an intresting debate with this topic, so of course i check it out. And what caught my attention immediately was the fact they were arguing their cases on interpretations from the decleration of independance, which i found absolutely absurd, its like trying to pass complicated economic laws to stop this current economic crisis using the magna carta. can someone please clarify this for me, why is there so much modern debate based on a centuries old declaration?

There are a couple of reasons. The first one, which I think you were getting at, is that Americans have diefied the founding generation, particularly their two works the constitution and the declaration of independence.

But for practical purposes, the declaration has value outside of merely declaring independence because it outlines a set of principles that our nation is supposedly founded upon. Those being that all men are created equal (at this time it meant all white men, but more on that in a second), and that all men had the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nearly all civil rights movements have quoted this passage as a reason that they should have the right they are working toward (i.e. women's rights, anti-slavery, equal rights for African Americans, for homosexuals, &ct.). It has gotten a lot of mileage, even though the writer and signers of it most certainly meant these principles to apply only to white males.

In short, it is something that Americans can point to and say 'this is what America stands for'.
Ragnar_Rahl
Posts: 19,297
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11/14/2008 9:47:06 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
That, and injecting it into the dialogue is a good way to get people thinking about the possibility of a revolt, since the Declaration essentially endorses one here a thousand times over :D
It came to be at its height. It was commanded to command. It was a capital before its first stone was laid. It was a monument to the spirit of man.
Nik
Posts: 552
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11/20/2008 3:40:23 PM
Posted: 8 years ago
I can understand that, but surely the declaration of independance is an outdated concept, and that arguments such as all men should be treated equally and that the colour of their skin should not affect this, are based on modern day principles. It just seems to me that (as a non american) that americans base too much of what their principles should be on what their forefathers priciples were, this is obviously not completely true but its the impression im getting, and I know for a fact that im not the only one that believes this. For example its like me thinking that the queen of england has a divine right to rule over us, a concept that is outdated and has been revised or more accurately extinguished.
"If you could tell the world but one truth, I could convince it of a thousand lies"
Nik
Posts: 552
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11/20/2008 3:43:45 PM
Posted: 8 years ago
oh yeah, and i include the constitution as well as the declaration! sorry forgot about the other one! But it shows that i realy have no idea!
"If you could tell the world but one truth, I could convince it of a thousand lies"
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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11/20/2008 9:06:37 PM
Posted: 8 years ago
At 11/20/2008 3:40:23 PM, Nik wrote:
I can understand that, but surely the declaration of independance is an outdated concept, and that arguments such as all men should be treated equally and that the colour of their skin should not affect this, are based on modern day principles. It just seems to me that (as a non american) that americans base too much of what their principles should be on what their forefathers priciples were, this is obviously not completely true but its the impression im getting, and I know for a fact that im not the only one that believes this. For example its like me thinking that the queen of england has a divine right to rule over us, a concept that is outdated and has been revised or more accurately extinguished.

I think that the principles (as we have interpreted them to fit modern ethics) are generally good ones. I don't find the principle that all men should be treated equally is outdated, nor should it ever be outdated. In fact, I think it is more relevent today, since we follow that principle a little bit more now than we have historically.

Your point about the constitution is well taken, and I would be inclined to agree with you to a large degree. I'd like to think that most of us realize that our constitution has problems, and that those who "invented" it had faults of their own. However, I have seen too many people deify the "founding generation" and their constitution. A growing portion of the U.S. would like to go back to an even more strict interpretation of the Constitution.

What do you think? What gives you the impression that you have outlined? What would you prefer from us?
brian_eggleston
Posts: 3,347
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11/21/2008 1:13:41 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
At 11/20/2008 3:43:45 PM, Nik wrote:
oh yeah, and i include the constitution as well as the declaration! sorry forgot about the other one! But it shows that i realy have no idea!

As a fellow Brit, it also seems perverse to me that an argument on pretty much any subject in America can be referred back to the Constitution, but perhaps that is because we live in a country that is highly unusual in that we don't have a written constitution?

b/t/w - I also live in Southwark, in Surrey Quays opposite Canary Wharf - my local is the Wibbly Wobbly, the floating pub on Greenland Dock. Do you know it?
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Nik
Posts: 552
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11/25/2008 5:44:41 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
Hmm, Firstly can i just say, i didnt mean to imply that, 'all men are equal' is an oudated concept, and its true that alot of the aspects of the constitution are still very much relevant to this day and age, but some things still confuse me. Like how all americans have the right to bear arms, or something like that. And how many americans would argue the case for bearing arms, just because the constitution says so. Or argue against it by interpretting the constitution says something else ( actual bear arms! cheers family guy!). Basically, i think the impression that us avergae joes are getting is that our friendly neighbourhood super power, is basing its laws and rights, on ones made in the 18th century. (again forgive me, but ive completely forgotten when the constituion was written) Because im pretty sure, we were allowed to bear arms about 200 years ago, but you wouldnt see us casually walking around with revolvers, unless we were also wearing tracksuit bottoms and tops, with burberry caps and hanging outside bermondsey tube station!

Wibbly wobbly? im not sure pal, but surrey quays is about 5 mins walk away from me! my local, is the mayflower pub on rotherhithe street, its quite famous. You know it?
"If you could tell the world but one truth, I could convince it of a thousand lies"
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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11/25/2008 7:01:55 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
At 11/25/2008 5:44:41 AM, Nik wrote:
Hmm, Firstly can i just say, i didnt mean to imply that, 'all men are equal' is an oudated concept, and its true that alot of the aspects of the constitution are still very much relevant to this day and age, but some things still confuse me.

I see now, I misread your original statement about the declaration. Oops

Like how all americans have the right to bear arms, or something like that. And how many americans would argue the case for bearing arms, just because the constitution says so. Or argue against it by interpretting the constitution says something else ( actual bear arms! cheers family guy!).

The right to bear arms, freedom of speech, &ct., are parts of the constitution in that they are the first ten amendments to it (the Bill of Rights - similar to your Declaration of Rights). If my knowledge of British history serves me, there was a time that Englishmen cited their Bill or Rights much like Americans do today?

Basically, i think the impression that us avergae joes are getting is that our friendly neighbourhood super power, is basing its laws and rights, on ones made in the 18th century. (again forgive me, but ive completely forgotten when the constituion was written) Because im pretty sure, we were allowed to bear arms about 200 years ago, but you wouldnt see us casually walking around with revolvers, unless we were also wearing tracksuit bottoms and tops, with burberry caps and hanging outside bermondsey tube station!

I think you have the wrong opinion of Americans. You wouldn't see us walking around with revolvers either. The argument only comes up when people feel their ability to own a gun is in jeopardy. But I will keep your statement in mind the next time I am going to ride the subway in Britain!
Nik
Posts: 552
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11/25/2008 7:24:49 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
fair enough! im just confused about the whole thing, i might read up on it. Its quite a deep issue and i dont think i know enough about it to discuss it!
"If you could tell the world but one truth, I could convince it of a thousand lies"
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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11/25/2008 7:52:24 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
At 11/25/2008 7:24:49 AM, Nik wrote:
fair enough! im just confused about the whole thing, i might read up on it. Its quite a deep issue and i dont think i know enough about it to discuss it!

I thought of a simpler way to put it.

Americans are fiercely protective of their 'rights'.
Their 'rights' are outlined in the Bill of Rights (first ten amendments to the constitution).
Therefore, when drawing up an argument in favor of a certain 'right', it makes sense that the first place they would go is the Bill of Rights.

This is not to say that Americans are the only ones protective of their rights (as I mentioned, my understanding of British history has Britons in a similar role), but that this is a possible explanation as to why.
brian_eggleston
Posts: 3,347
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11/25/2008 9:57:19 AM
Posted: 8 years ago
At 11/25/2008 5:44:41 AM, Nik wrote:

Wibbly wobbly? im not sure pal, but surrey quays is about 5 mins walk away from me! my local, is the mayflower pub on rotherhithe street, its quite famous. You know it?

Yes, but I've never been in. It's on the river isn't it? I tried to moor my boat up there once but there isn't a pontoon and the swell kept bashing the boat into the wall so I sailed over to Limehouse Basin and had a pint there instead.
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Mikal
Posts: 11,268
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7/28/2015 5:32:21 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 11/14/2008 7:24:34 AM, Nik wrote:
Firstly, I would like to say that i realy dont know much about this topic, its realy a question. Why is the declaration of independence so damn important to americans? Surely its historical significance is all thats important about it. But seriously, ive been browsing through the debates, one in particular caught my eye, Homosexual marriage, now i was expecting quite an intresting debate with this topic, so of course i check it out. And what caught my attention immediately was the fact they were arguing their cases on interpretations from the decleration of independance, which i found absolutely absurd, its like trying to pass complicated economic laws to stop this current economic crisis using the magna carta. can someone please clarify this for me, why is there so much modern debate based on a centuries old declaration?

its murica