A small publishing company, Wilder Publications, has come under fire for putting warning labels on copies of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and other historical documents. The warning says each document is "a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today,” and suggests that parents talk to their children about how views on race, gender, and other matters have changed before letting their kids read them. Is this "insulting" and "horrifying," as some commenters at Amazon say, or just a harmless reminder that historical documents, no matter how revered, can reflect views that might offend people today?
This is a disgrace to our country: "I am appalled beyond words," says Charlotte Cushman in American Thinker, that Wilder had the audacity "to put a disclaimer on the very documents that our country was founded upon." The blatantly leftist publisher obviously has no respect for the unprecedented freedoms granted by the Constitution. Perhaps Wilder should "advise parents to discuss how views on race, gender, and freedom of expression have changed since the Communist Manifesto was written instead."
"Publisher puts warning label on Constitution"
There's nothing to get upset about: I'm not offended by this "innocuous" warning, says James Joyner in Outside the Beltway. The "world of the 1760s, 1770s, and 1780s" really was "radically different from today's in terms of race and gender relations, much less sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations." What's baffling is that there are people out there paying for copies of these esteemed documents. They're widely available for free in print and online — "mostly without warning labels!"
"Does the Constitution need a warning label?"
Offensive or not, the labels are absurd: This whole thing is just "really silly," says Derek Thompson in The Atlantic. All "books are products of their time. That's not a warning. It's self-evident." So if we're going to start printing "weird maxims" before the U.S. Constitution, we "should do the same for every classic older than 50 years, from Invisible Man to The Odyssey." Warning: "Cyclops, we have discovered, do not exist. Also, nobody sails from Turkey to Greece anymore, they just take Lufthansa."
"Warning labels for the Constitution?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Hey, scolds: Stop telling us to enjoy a healthy Thanksgiving
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
Subscribe to the Week