Political Correctness and Editing Historic Documents

Does the code of your professional organization require you to change the wording on historic documents? How about the foundational document of our country? Does the code of your professional organization supersede that?

Samuel Adams Beer manufacturers are claiming that it does.

Their 4th of July commercial traded on the fact that their brand of beer carries the name Samuel Adams. Samuel Adams was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The actor in the commercial is shown drawing a brewski while he recites a version of these words from the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Samuel Adams version goes like this:

… all men are created equal. They are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Aside from the overall cheesiness of conflating a beer with the Declaration of Independence, quite a few people are upset by the editing of the words themselves. Personally, I think that if you’re going to quote a document of the importance of the Declaration of Independence, you should quote it. This is a paraphrase of sorts, pretending to be a quote. However that is a minor quibble.

The reason the ad has drawn fire, so much fire that the beer manufacturers had to issue their flabby little explanation about how they were following their beer manufacturer’s guidelines, is what the paraphrase left out altogether.

If you compare the quote from the actual Declaration of Independence with the paraphrase used in the ad, it’s easy to spot. They left out the phrase “endowed by their Creator.”

There was a time when people would have shrugged this off. But in today’s world of politically correct censorship and overt bullying against people of religious faith, it struck a nerve, and it should have.

I am not a beer drinker. I can not stand the taste of the stuff. So it’s easy for me to say this. But, there are plenty of other brands of beer you can buy, some of them which may not be such slaves to the guidelines of their association. (Which, I would guess were voted on by the manufacturer members of the association.)


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  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    There are much worse cases. The Hyppocratic Oath not only forbids abortion and euthanasia, but also any kind of sexual relationship between the doctor and any patient or any member of the patient’s family. Would there not be a massacre of doctors across the world,if it had not been excised from medical courses?

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    *Gasp* I gasped when I read the ommission. I can’t believe they did that. I can’t answer about the legalities but the ommision once it becomes public will hurt them more than help. I was at the supermarket this morning and now I am happy with myself that I decided to not buy the Sam Adams and went with the Blue Moon instead. So let’s make it public and let’s not buy Sam Adams. I won’t and I’m going to spread the word. I have a lot of Catholic and other Christian friends who buy beer!

  • FW Ken

    Self-identified non-believers (those who state they have no religious affiliation) comprise about 20% of the population. Atheists, a sub-set of the “nones” are about 3-4% of the population. I would posit that a fair few of the atheists are not of the Internet Atheist Troll sort – aggressive haters of Faith – and, in my experience, most folks are of the “live and let live” variety. So what we have is a tiny portion of the population to whom the advertising world is willing to kow-tow. It’s sort of like the 2-3% of self-identified gays who have taken over the public discussion about civil rights, as though they were the new blacks. Given that these groups are over-represented in the public self-conciousness (news and entertainment media, the academy, and political elites) you still have to wonder how it got this way?

    • James1225

      “So what we have is a tiny portion of the population to whom the advertising world is willing to kow-tow. It’s sort of like the 2-3% of self-identified gays who have taken over the public discussion about civil rights”

      The advertising world understands that it is wise not to alienate anyone for no good reason. Endowed “by their Creator” can be implied for those who believe and not implied for those who don’t. It makes sense to state it as such.