Friday, March 7, 2008

Some Blogger What Don't Know English Good

Found this post while looking over Google Snooze Alerts this morning. I found it interesting that the poster interprets the Second Amendment thusly (emphasis mine):

If you read the second amendment, which I am sure most have not but is one of the reasons I got my pocket copy of the Constitution, it is a short amendment that mentions two main ideals: a militia and security of a free state. A secondary idea is that the government should not infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
Oh really? That little pesky part at the end is secondary? Maybe you should trade in that pocket Constution for a pocket guide to sentence structure:
Article II. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, (nonrestrictive clause)

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. (Restrictive clause)"
If this isn't enough to convince you, go here, here, and especially here and read up.

Here's a little bit that might save you some time:
Standing alone, [a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, is an incomplete thought. By itself, it does not express an idea and needs additional information to give it meaning. This part of the Amendment is the dependent or subordinate clause. Thus, the militia clause depends on the existence of the right of the people to keep and bears arms.
There, now you ain't some blogger what don't know English good.

Thankya, thankyaverramuch.


Magus said...

Here's a little something I dropped in talk.politics.guns once upon a time:

Let's examine the Second Amendment from a grammatical standpoint.

So that we know exactly what we're examining, here's the text of the Second Amendment as passed by Congress and ratified by the States: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

There are only a couple types of sentences: Simple, Complex, Compound [there are two special cases of Compound called Compound-Complex].

A *simple sentence*, also called an independent clause, contains a subject and a verb, and it expresses a complete thought.

The Second Amendment is not a "simple sentence"--it contains two clauses.

A *complex sentence* has an independent clause joined by one or more dependent clauses.

Hmmm... looks like that could be it, but before we make the final call, let's continue looking at the other types of sentences.

A *compound sentence* contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinator. The coordinators are as follows: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. Except for very short sentences, coordinators are always preceded by a comma.

Nope, doesn't fit. Let's examine compound-complex sentences next...

There are two special types of compound sentences. First, rather than joining two simple sentences together, a coordinating conjunction sometimes joins two complex sentences, or one simple sentence and one complex sentence. In this case, the sentence is called a *compound-complex* sentence.

Has to have more than one independent clause--that one doesn't fit. Let's continue...

The second special case involves punctuation. It is possible to join two originally separate sentences into a compound sentence using a semicolon instead of a coordinating conjunction. Usually, a conjunctive adverb like "however" or "consequently" will appear near the beginning of the second part, but it is not required. Also note, in modern English, an em dash (--), which indicates a sudden break in thought--a parenthetical statement like this one--may sometimes be used in place of a semicolon.

Again, it has to have more than one independent clause, and again, the definition doesn't fit.

The only sentence type that fits the sentence that is the Second Amendment is a "complex" sentence. One independent clause and one or more dependent clauses. Lets now examine the text of the Second Amendment and ensure that is factually correct--that it has only one independent clause and the other clause is a dependent clause.

When looking at the Second Amendment, the phrase beginning with "a well-regulated militia" and ending with "a free State" is an absolute phrase, a.k.a. nominative absolute. A nominative absolute consists of a substantive--a noun or noun substitute--and a participle and has no grammatical connection with the rest of the sentence. The phrase is not an independent clause--a group of related words that makes a complete statement--and does not stand on it's own. It is a dependent clause.

The phrase beginning with "the right of the people" and ending with "shall not be infringed" is an independent clause and is not grammatically dependent on the preceding nominative absolute phrase in any way. By itself this phrase fulfills the definition of a "simple sentence" above. Again, it is an independent clause.

Yep, one independent clause and one dependent clause, the dependent clause being a nominative absolute.

Now that we've carefully examined the Second Amendment--as distributed to the states and then ratified by them--and using the definitions above we can see that the Second Amendment is in fact a "complex" sentence. It has one dependent clause and one independent clause.

Here is is again, just to ensure we're all on the same page: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

We can see that "the right of the People to keep and bear arms" is not dependent on the "well regulated militia"; however, the "well regulated militia" is dependent on the right of the people [remember which words were in which clause--dependent and independent--that's how you tell what is dependent on what].

The USSC has ruled that every word of the Constitution must be read as being necessary. If the right of the people is not dependent on the militia, then why are the words "well regulated militia" included in the Second Amendment? Those words give ONE of the reasons why the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Those words also show WHAT type of arms should be specifically protected; the type necessary to a "well regulated militia".

Now, continuing on, someone might ask, "Why would the framers only include that ONE [Militia] reason for protecting the right to keep and bear arms?" You must remember that the Constitution is a document setting up the framework for the Federal Government--a government that isn't granted any power [Article 1, section 8] to interfere with the everyday concerns or uses of Arms by its citizens, such as hunting, target shooting, self-defense, etc. The only area of concern for the Federal Government in regards to arms is military uses--and thus the "militia" reference.

The right of the people to keep and bear arms is protected so that there is a pool of already armed citizens that may be called upon to "execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions" [those are the only uses of the citizens as a militia the Constitution authorizes Congress].

Rustmeister said...

Dang, good job!

Rob K said...

I just looked at the original linked post and it has been replaced with a perfect example of Reasoned Discourse™ and "why are anti-gun activists so violent". To wit:


POST REMOVED: Inbox filled with ridiculous, hot-headed, narrow-minded ideals.

Some of these gun owners should just shoot themselves in the head and end it all right now. There’s some gun violence I can live with.

I love when people stop by and take pot shots at my writing sytle. I am not a professinal writer, and as I state so clearly, it is simply an opinion, so get over it and don’t read what I write it it is going to affect your blood pressure that much.