Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Peter Heck of the far-far right now is on "Indiana Talks." Oh boy!

   A couple of years ago I happened to find a web page, via a link on The Kokomo Tribune (pronounced "TRIB-une" for those native to Howard County), to the Peter Heck Show. The image on the link was of an old-fashioned radio microphone. What I discovered surprised me, in a few ways. First, I found it difficult to believe people still rejected such matters of science as evolution or that homosexuals exist. Second, I questioned the propriety of a photograph that supposedly depicts a pile of disposed fetuses outside a clinic that provides women with health services to illustrate a piece in which the author opposes choice. Third, once I got onto the website's debate forum, I was surprised that, amidst the very far right-wing people who posted were some very thoughtful, albeit very right-wing people. Eventually I posted on the subject of whether the Constitution requires religious oaths. I used the handle "403US15," the Supreme Court reporter citation for Cohen v. California, in which the Court held a person has a First Amendment right to wear a jacket on which is printed "Fuck the Draft." Mr. Heck wrote on that thread to try and correct me on the points I raised. Eventually, after he questioned my credentials, I e-mailed him. He invited me onto his show. I was on twice.

   I should not have challenged him to a debate at the end of the second appearance on his show. I should have waited. I could not help myself. As much as he has derided Roe v. Wade, his comment about how we should debate something some time just struck a spark. After he accepted the challenge, he had second thoughts. I was not invited back to the show.

   Since then The Kokomo Tribune dropped him as a columnist, in a hypocritical fashion about which I posted. The radio station that carried his daily show dropped him, probably to replace him with cheaper programming purchased from a national corporation (only a guess, but that's how things go nowadays). Now his show, The 414 Project, is carried on "Indiana Talks," the same internet network that carries "Civil Discourse Now" on Saturdays 11 am-1 pm.

   Mr. Heck's views are "different." His latest piece questions the scientific validity of evolution as a theory. In a commencement address in May he mentioned something about women and CEOs that caught the attention of national media. I invited him onto "Civil Discourse Now" a couple of months ago, but, sadly, did not receive a reply to my e-mail.

   I believe "Indiana Talks" is a great network because it has a variety of opinions expressed. I disagree with Mr. Heck about many things. One of his favorite starts to a speech is the mention of Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death!" oration. Sadly for Messrs. Heck and Patrick, there is no first-hand evidence such a line was given in Henry's speech. We do have a letter he had written to a cousin in which Henry lamented that slaves, and he owned people as chattel, were so convenient. Henry's line would have been more accurate had he said: "Give me liberty! Give them death!" That doesn't carry the same effect on a crowd. This would be a minor matter but for Mr. Heck's Master's degree in history. One would have thought he would know about primary and secondary sources for historical information.

   As he is now on "Indiana Talks," I hope we can talk once again. Maybe he even will consent to that little debate the challenge to which he accepted and on which he then reneged. And "renege" is a Hoosierism---it is pivotal to one of our State's native sports. One of those sports is basketball, and the other is euchre.

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Comment by paul wheeler on July 10, 2013 at 9:13am

Again, this is what I call straining at gnats. 

I have nothing further to add.

Comment by Kurt Lorey on July 10, 2013 at 5:07am

It is rather odd that no speeches of Patrick Henry were ever transcribed. Many of his contemporaries' words were. Your logic comparison isn't equivalent. As far as "intellectual credit" goes, heh.  ;)

Comment by Mark Small on July 10, 2013 at 5:05am

Mr. Wheeler, if the quotation of Patrick Henry were in the context of a simple quote in a paragraph of an essay, that would be a matter of little consequence. However, Mr. Heck has used the "Liberty or Death" speech as a key part of speeches in the past. The dramatic effect of the specific words and Mr. Heck's reliance on the courage displayed by Henry in delivering those words are focal. As indeed there is no record those words were delivered, then it is important to address that point. Also, given Henry's relaxed attitude, in his correspondence to his cousin, about slavery, Henry becomes more than the hypocrite many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and delegates of the Constitution, who claimed ownership over other human beings as chattel,  were. My criticism of Mr. Heck is his portrayal of Henry as a brave patriot in the face of British despotism. Actually, in the course of one speech in which he was accused of treason, he apologized to the listeners and to the king. Finally, I do not believe it necessary to disparage in remarks such as you do by way of "intellect credit" in your posts. I appreciate your posts, however much I may disagree with your views on particular matters.

This does not boil down to proving a negative. You referred to Wikipedia sources for support of the assertion that Henry stated these words in his speech. Proof of a negative would be proof that something does not exist.

Comment by paul wheeler on July 9, 2013 at 5:08pm

There is such a thing as straining at a gnat while swallowing an elephant.  I won't ask anyone to prove a negative (though that is exactly what it comes down to).  The simplest thing to do when referring to Henry's speeches is just to use the typical qualifiers such as:  'Patrick Henry is claimed to have said in a speech...'   or "A speech attributed to Patrick Henry goes as follows...".  From what I gather in your previous posts is that unless someone in colonial times left a black & white transcript of the speech, it must be discounted altogether.  (By that logic, evolution would also be discredited since no one living for millions of years has survived to tell the story in real time and the geologic argument is open to interpretation, just saying). 

Kurt, I never meant to suggest that just because someone is sincere in his beliefs that the veracity of his beliefs is beyond question. One can be sincerely WRONG as well.  The whole thrust of my comments is the harshness of judging with negative bias (Mr. Heck) based on his view of the origin or man or lack of tangible evidence of Patrick Henry's speech.  I give Mr. Small more intellectual credit that his post was worth. 

Comment by Kurt Lorey on July 9, 2013 at 5:57am

So Paul, if I sincerely believe you to be incredibly wrong-headed, that SINCERITY superimposes some kind of credibility onto that belief? I - think - not. Just because Mr. Heck sincerely believes something, does not lend any shred of credibility to the truth, or untruth, of anything he believes. So what that more Americans are increasing their disbelief in evolution? Perhaps it indicates that scientific illiteracy is rising for Americans, or that the interenet is just dumbing us down? A poll doesn't necessarily indicate anything meaningful. Polls are just questions without context.

Concerning Patrick Henry. The guy you seem to be referring to (Judge Tucker?) was using "recollection", not notes, to relate his IMPRESSION of what Patrick Henry said, and that recollection was 17 YEARS after the speech in question. Recollection is heavily colored by one's own knowledge, perceptions and biases whether one is talking about visual or aural phenomena. Worse, Patrick Henry's "contemporary ear listeners" always (repeat, always) wrote about their inability to remember exactly what Patrick Henry had said, even directly after a Henry speech. Here, I have to agree with Mark that there is no proof that Patrick Henry ever said any such thing, and since there exists no written documentation of any of Patrick Henry's speeches. Such proof will likely never be delivered.

I do have a little nitpick for Mark as I don't believe that Mr. Heck has a master's degree in History. I believe he more likely has a master's degree in Education with a concentration in secondary social studies. There -is- a distinct difference as educators focus upon teaching moreso than subject matter, and are rarely exposed to the requirements for rigorous research standards. Of course having an advanced degree in History doesn't necessarily imply that one learned anything correctly either, I suppose.

Comment by Mark Small on July 9, 2013 at 5:27am

Paul,

Thanks for the Wikipedia links. Also, I have a copy of the full "text" of Henry's speech. A speech was made on March 23, 1775. There was no transcript made. According to William Wirt, who wrote the text 35 years later for his "Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry," in  a letter to a friend, of Henry he wrote: "It was all speaking, speaking, speaking. 'Tis true he could talk---Gods how he could talk! but there is no acting the while ... And then, to make the matter worse, from 1763 to 1789, ... not one of his speeches lives in print, writing or memory." Burstein, "America's Jubilee, 35, 39. The "text" was taken from one of Wirt's correspondents, Judge St. George Tucker, who was present at the speech but wrote to Wirt: "In vain should I attempt to give any idea of his speech." Tucker attempted a reconstruction of the first two paragraphs of the speech. Hample, "The Textual Authenticity of Patrick Henry's 'Liberty or Death' Speech," Quarterly Journal of Speech 63 (1977): 299. Maybe the "effort" was honest, but the ears were those of one man who was present to hear, and he did not mention "Liberty or Death." No one, at the time, took "great pains" to accurately record what was said. I believe my credibility is not strained in this matter. My point is that Mr. Heck does not accurately recite historical occurrences, with the Patrick Henry speech as a prime example.

Comment by paul wheeler on July 8, 2013 at 5:04pm

You may want to reduce your harshness toward Heck.  He is a really nice guy who sincerely believes what he believes.  To depict him as far far right because he believes in creationism does not resolve that issue.  In fact, I have to have more faith in evolution than in immediate creation.  A good percentage of people are increasing their disbelief in evolution according to Gallop:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2154923/Half-Americans-beli...percent-accept-evolution.html

Throwing on a Patrick Henry statement to fuel your argument (whatever it is) to discredit Heck is really reaching.  I would refer you to links below which are self-explanatory.  The difference between you and the people of Henry's time is that you and contemporary critics tend to be revisionists, whereas Henry's ear listeners seem to make an honest effort to reconstruct the speech from the ear listeners at the event itself and took great pains to do it.  I have far more tendency to accept ear witness accounts who heard the speech than the denials of revisionists today.  I'm all for de-mythologizing some stories we have either invented or romanticized by re-enactors, but I don't see it here.  To pile on Heck using this really strains at your credulity.  

    

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Give_me_Liberty,_or_give_me_Death!

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Henry

 http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/henry.htm (full speech)

 

Comment by Paul K. Ogden on July 8, 2013 at 8:19am

Well, to be fair to Peter Heck, you are the only attorney in the country who believes Roe v. Wade is supported by constitutional analysis.  Even liberals deride it as judicial activism without constitutional foundation.

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