Monday, March 12, 2007

Conservapedia: Boston Massacre Entry

In addition to a panolpy of other virtues, the woman I refer to here as Lord Wife (pictured a couple posts back) also reads this blog. She's a writer and researcher, so naturally she went to check out Conservapedia, the new antidote to liberal referencing inaccuracies. For comparison, she looked up "The Boston Massacre" on both resources. Here, in its entirety, is the Conservapedia entry:

The Boston Massacre occurred on March 5, 1770, when British soldiers fired into a crowd of colonists who had been throwing snowballs at the soldiers. The British killed five, including the African American Crispus Attucks.

At the trial of the British solders involved in the massacre, the defendants were represented by John Adams who believed that all people were due a fair trial and who would later become the first Vice-President of the United States and the second President of the United States. John Adams defense of the solders lead to the acquittal of six of the eight charged and the conviction of the remaining two on charges of manslaughter, rather than murder. Near the end of his life Adams described his defense of the British solders as "one of the most gallant, generous, manly, and disinterested actions of my whole life, and one of the best pieces of service I ever rendered my country." [1]

Compare it to the Wikipedia entry, which is lengthy, so I'll abridge to a single quote by the same John Adams, picking up exactly where the Conservapedia article ends:
"Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right. This however is no Reason why the Town should not call the Action of that Night a Massacre, nor is it any Argument in favour of the Governor or Minister, who caused them to be sent here. But it is the strongest Proofs of the Danger of Standing Armies."
Why the Conservapedia author(s) took the concluding sentences off the Adams quote is a good question. Though I can think of many reasons, many uncharitable, maybe the motive was nothing more than to simplify a noble sentiment of the speaker. Upholding the more complicated, sometimes costly and cluttered ideals of diversity, dignity, and democracy conveyed in the full statement is a lot to expect from any populace. Yet an idealized security, appealing and simple to so many, has its own incalculable price. In 1770 and the years which followed, it treated people throwing snow-balls as enemy combatants, and every traveler as a potential terrorist. Maybe democracy is done, maybe the vacant seats have won, But you know how, back on the East Coast of the United States, there are still historical markers in front of old inns which say, "George Washington Slept Here?" Well. Something tells me that all over the world, there will be signs many years from now which say, "George Dubya Fucked Up Here."

No comments: