Federalist Papers: Where's the sex?

On Jay Nordlinger’s corner of The Corner, a reader writes about disclaimers:

Our home library needed a new copy of the Federalist Papers (the old copy having succumbed to 25 years of thumbing, page-turning, and note-taking). The new copy, published by Wilder Publications in 2008, offers this disclaimer:

“This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work.”

Nordlinger is rereading the Federalist Papers to look for the sex. (In Federalist 6, Alexander Hamilton mentions Pericles going to war at a prostitute’s behest. Maybe that’s it.)

One does wonder what values the disclaimer writers were disclaiming.

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Comments

  1. Richard Nieporent says:

    This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today.

    Thank God for that!

  2. I don’t meant to be cynical, but this seems to make the sweeping assumption that parents/people today are ABLE to discuss how “views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written.” Then again, teaching social studies and discussing these things are pretty difficult as we all have different ideas of what the norms are, what the should be and what is acceptable.

    Taken a step further, how many kids are going to pick up the Federalist Papers for pleasure reading? That would be the day.

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    The only thing I don’t like about this “advisory” or whatever you want to call it is that it has a sneering implication that today’s values are better. This is evident in the specific types of difference that are identified: race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations????? Clearly the author of this caveat thinks that the people of the late 18th century were benighted bigots. And while I don’t have a problem recognizing that today’s values are, in fact, today’s values and that they should be valued on that basis as well as the objective good they bring, I think the implication of superiority is uncalled for (if not entirely unjustified).

    Many societies have been possessed of the belief that they are morally superior to their predecessors. They think themselves “advanced”, as if morality had stopped developing and changing when it reached them. It’s a facet of the “year zero” effect that people sometimes talk about.

    The fact is, every society has its own hang ups and problems, its own concerns and idiosyncracies. The men who wrote the Federalist Papers probably thought ill of many societies. Yet here we are, looking down our noses at them. Some day, somewhere, someone will look down their noses at us.

    That doesn’t make us wrong; I’m not saying that modern values shouldn’t be cherished. But a dose of moral humility wouldn’t hurt.

  4. I believe that bit about Pericles is considered a cheap shot by historians today. It was put forth by anti-Periclean playwrights looking for an easy joke, if I remember correctly.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Zinn is dead. You’d think these folks would just give up, wouldn’t you.
    Heard another reference to a study about the knowledge of civics in our young people. (Believe I’ll have another drink, now that I thought of it again. Horrid.)
    At some colleges–big names–the seniors knew less than the freshmen.
    Question: Did they forget or were they misinformed?

Trackbacks

  1. A Federalist Papers “Say What?”…

    Why on earth would any SANE person feel a need to include this disclaimer in THE most significant work available for understanding the Constitution? ?This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written…