Reading the Constitution & Mark Twain

This morning, FD listened to the House of Representatives reading the US Constitution.  Or so they said.  Actually, the house read a version of the document, leaving out things they didn’t want to read, including both the 18th and 21st amendments (those that adopted and then repealed Prohibition) and the “3/5ths clause” and so on.  The argument made was that portions of the document that had been changed are no longer part of the document.  But that doesn’t seem true.  The wording of various amendments does not say “we strike out” X or Y.  The document is not a palimpsest — the original words haven’t been scraped off.  If you want to read and understand the Constitution, you need to read it all.

Today’s reading wasn’t rehearsed, as far as FD could tell, and readers didn’t seem to have gotten clear instructions.  There wasn’t consistency in whether or not readers read all of the material (some amendment readers included dates of proposals and adoption, some did not) and the division of the readings was a bit weird — some readers didn’t even get to complete a sentence, just some phrases, which made for some strange sound bites.

Similarly, a recent decision to issue a version of Huckleberry Finn that makes changes to the wording of that novel seems also to ignore historical accuracy.  When is that a good idea?

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