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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

March 2015



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TGR, Gutenberg, Rubric

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

I was working on an instructional project back in 1989 that would show students all the different kinds of print techniques that could be used in desktop publishing (a project that eventually won several graphic, writing, and printing awards). I was on a TWA flight across country and had happily accepted a couple of bloody Marys from my flight attendant when the brilliant idea hit me to base the sample works around quotes from Shakespeare. I started compiling my list, sketching out the designs as I went. Of course, I included that famous quote from Othello: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive.”

The only problem was, it wasn’t from Othello. Or Shakespeare. It might be the most famous line penned by novelist/poet Sir Walter Scott from the poem “Marmion,” Canto 6, Stanza 17. Extra points if you can quote any other line from Scott.

My total amusement today comes from the bruhaha surrounding Sarah Palin’s misquoting, or I should say misappropriating, the story of Paul Revere. There was an interesting article in today’s Seattle Times (Founding Fathers misquoted: Politicians could use refresher classes)citing the number of things misquoted by our representatives or wrongly attributed to the founding fathers. What? Jefferson didn’t write “Government is best that governs least?” (Henry David Thoreaux in the essay “Civil Disobedience”)

Why do we want to quote the founding fathers all the time anyway? For all their contributions, they were mostly misogynistic and racist middle aged or older men who believed war and force of arms was the answer to any problem. Hmmm. Now that I take a look at congress, maybe I understand the fascination. You can justify your colonial mindset if you quote someone great. It is much safer than coming right out and saying that in your opinion we should kill the weak and enslave the poor. That when we quote Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” we understand the definition of “people” to be the same as the founding fathers “white males over the age of 35.”

The Constitution of the United States was explicitly created with a means of amendment. It is intended to be changed and to reflect society and social understanding as people progress.

And I’m not going to quote a founding father to justify my opinion.