Over the past two days I have corresponded with Scott McKeag, the author of the article in the Daily Iowan arguing that Ron Paul’s views of the Constitution were untenable, and that we ought to question the congressman’s “constitutional competency.” I replied to the article on this site and in the Daily Iowan. In the interest of open dialogue, I offered to reproduce the first portion of our correspondence, beginning with his initial note to me:
Over the last 24 hours, those associated with the Ron Paul campaign sent you an inaccurate editorial that was attributed to me, written in a college publication, The Daily Iowan. The article, edited by the paper to fit size requirements and perhaps not written clearly enough on my part, only sought to make the point that if the Constitution forbade bureaucracies (in this case, the Dpt. of Ed), then why hasn’t the Supreme Court stepped in and deemed such a bureau unconstitutional. This is the premise of my defense as such bureaus as constitutional (and allowed under I.8.18).
More importantly, it was published that I am a teacher. I am not. I, like many other recent graduates, are being hit hard by the current economic crisis. Substitute teaching is one of three current jobs that I have. The editor put that on the article at his discretion. Without my knowledge until yesterday.
Instead of receiving a mature, healthy, and productive civil discourse with those in the Ron Paul camp who disagree with my assessment, and opinion, I received threats, harassing emails, libelous comments that even you yourself have unwittingly made, and my personal information has been shared in Ron Paul circles (online), with instructions to continue this harassment. I have already had to file one criminal case against one supporter, and another is pending. I have also begun, begrudgingly, to seek advice and counsel for civil recourse on those associated with Ron Paul and the actions listed a second ago.
I would honestly love nothing more than to have an honest, peaceful, above all civil dialogue with you about the merits of our beliefs. In fact I was even preparing remarks to your blog (which I had no choice but to read due to the volume of harassment from your readers). I’m 23 years old, and have a deep and passionate curiosity of constitutional study, political science and history. The events over the last day or so, which may have very well crossed legal lines, and definitely ethical and moral ones, has (for the first time) brought me to question why I’ve chosen such interests. All over a difference in opinion.
I look forward to hearing back from you, sharing ideas, and continuing to learn. In the meantime, please encourage your readers to not use your blog post as ways to post my personal information, which has been used to threaten me and those around me.
Dear Mr. McKeag:
Needless to say, you have my complete support when it comes to harassment by people who disliked your article. I went through the thread and found the comment where someone had linked to your Facebook page and some other avenue of contact and deleted it. That is juvenile and uncalled for, and I am sorry it happened.
You will forgive me, on the other hand, if I remain skeptical of your claims of innocence, that all you aim to do is have a discussion with people of different perspectives. Someone forwarded me the extremely nasty piece you wrote after Sarah Palin made her remark about Paul Revere. I am no Palin fan, believe me; I would say she personifies much of what is wrong with America. But your approach to her was altogether uncharitable and vicious.
Likewise for Ron Paul. You manifestly did not portray your disagreement with him as an innocent matter of opinion. You said he lacked constitutional competency and engaged in “willful deception” (the latter claim being based on a risibly technical point about the enforcement of No Child Left Behind).
This seems to be a pattern with you. Can you point me to an article of yours in which you presented your position humbly and the dispute you were involved in a mere matter of opinion?
It seems to me that you have simply received a dose of your own medicine, and do not care for it. Next time, then, try to be a little more charitable — not just toward those who, like Ron Paul, are more knowledgeable than you are, but to everyone.
Some of us are trying to elect the one man in the past 50 years who has told foreign-policy truths in public life, and who doesn’t want to throw hundreds of thousands of kids into cages for victimless crimes. I suspect we are going to get only one chance at this. That may explain people’s exasperation at someone who would unjustly attack this man, while implicitly urging us to vote for one of the interchangeable drones we will otherwise get, all of whom will continue the lies, the bailouts, the cronyism, and the wars.
A very appreciated and timely response, and unfortunately (in spite of many’s best efforts to delete my private information) this morning I’ve had the pleasure of reading two more emails, one to a different account through the University, another on my own facebook page–which is not public. But I do sincerely appreciate the support when it comes to the harassment.
As for you remaining skeptical about my innocence, I would be skeptical of my own as well. Regarding the piece about Sarah Palin, it lacks the (attempted) professionalism that I try to carry in my public discussions. It was purely in the spirit of humor, possibly poor humor, but something that was only shared on Facebook with my friends list (many of whom sympathize with me politically) and something I would not share publicly if I were a public official. My personal belief of Sarah Palin is in line with yours, but on the other hand I am a private citizen, not a public official. So to have my life turned upside down over an opinion of individuals or groups that willfully campaign and take on the risk of public judgement, I take issue with that. Since the “Tea Party” became active, I have been quite outspoken about the liberties its candidates–namely Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum–have taken with our Constitution. Admittedly, my language and tone are colorful and are meant to grab the attention of those perusing the paper. Ironically, those who know me and support Ron Paul also know that I am actually quite sympathetic to his ideas. I’ve even made a documentary (which I showed to students while student teaching a year ago, and have posted on YouTube) which discusses the Drug War and uses Ron Paul’s 2007 debate footage to aid in the feature. You are more than welcome to view it and let me know what you think. Or put it on your blog.
When I was asked by a friend/writer at the Daily Iowan to provide some reading material while he acclimated first year students into the fold, we decided to voice an opposing train of thought to the Ron Paul supporters in Iowa City – a very strong area for him since 2007.
It’s well known there are many ways to view the Constitution, its framers, and the history that surrounds it. I myself am a big James Madison fan, but by no means have I ever claimed to be at your level of academic knowledge or that of Ron Paul’s. Like I said earlier today, I’d love to go back and forth about my interpretations and the context of the quotes you presented from Jefferson and Madison. I take it you’ve read Jack Rakove’s biography of Madison, which has helped influence my understanding of his political thinking. Madison approached the Constitutional Convention pretty set at establishing a robust and unquestionable central governing entity, and was forced to compromise on his ideals with the reality of things…and that played into his and Jefferson’s appeals to the Kentucky and Virginia state legislatures during the Adams administration, as they pulled off some political mastery in winning the 1798 midterms. But I digress back to your email.
I respect your political affiliations, your difference of opinion, and the candor you’ve shown with me so far. I greatly admire it. At times I get carried away with my rhetoric and attitude, as my confidence and passion (not unlike the many Ron Paul supporters who have taken more questionable means at communicating to me) serve me well often and, like now, serve to make it more difficult to establish peaceful dialogue. I want to extend my apologies to you, and Ron Paul, for some of the stern language I used in depicting my viewpoint. This is a learning experience to be sure.
In spite of, perhaps, a less-than acceptable article by my standards yesterday, anyone who knows me will tell you that I am crazy about learning and educating myself on as much as I can. And that even though I have my ideals and political affiliations confirmed, it never means I dismiss the opponent’s points or beliefs. Like I said, I espouse some of Rep. Paul’s very own.
Thank You again, I would greatly enjoy sharing my thoughts on your blog.