The 14th Amendment's grammar.

OK, this website seems, well, kooky, but I wanted to run it through the dopers for debunking.

Frankly, it just seems like a lot of tin foil hat malarky.

The capitalization conventions within the Constitution defy logic. For a proper explanation you’d need a linguist, not a political or legal historian. But in general the main body was written at a time when English writers tended to follow the German practice of capitalizing almost every noun (for example, a Standard of Weights and Measures).

As the amendments were tacked on, the authors sometimes followed the older practice, and sometimes not. For example, Article III refers to the “judicial Power”, while the 11th Amendment refers to the “Judicial power”! Even some of the newer amendments capitalize words like State and Government, possibly because contemporary members of Congress feel this gives their words Added Gravity and makes them sound more like the Grand Original.

Any attempt to weave conspiracy theories out of this random capitalization is doomed to Tinfoil-Hattedness.

The US Constitution

Note that every noun (including “Citizen”) is capitalized, as was the Style at the Time.

I imagine that by the time of the 14th amendment, the practice of capitalizing every noun (one that is still practiced in German, which is closely related to English) had died out.

Why would citizen be capitalized at all? Unless it’s being used as a title, but we don’t go around calling each other Citizen Clinton, Citizen Pitt, or Citizeness Clinton.

alphaboi867: As stated previously back when the constitution was written it was common practice to capitalize all nouns, not just proper nouns.

Wow. I mean, wow. I understand each of the words in their individual word-ness, but strung together, all I can say is: wow.

My favorite paragraph, broken down.


I’m still with you.

Uh . . .

Nope. When just the term person is used, it means person, which encompasses both a natural and an artificial person. Government is a person? Um, cite?

That would be tricky. How would you do that?

Huh. So I would become artificial if I spelled my name in all caps, but remain natural if I didn’t? Let’s try this out: using that system, select the artificial person(s) from the list below:
[ul]Bill Gates[/ul]
Hmmm. The logic seems to be falling apart. How can I resolve this?

Uh, no. How are they property? Stock in Yahoo! is property, but Yahoo! itself is a person.

Yes! Finally! I can shout an unqualified agreement!

Um, so if I drive my car through Utah, my car becomes a resident of Utah? Huh.

I think someone fell asleep during the “in rem” section of Civ Pro. Because this little gem has all the earmarks of someone who didn’t quite get the point of Pennoyer v. Neff.

Both, thank you. But what do you mean by residency? For what purposes?

stpauler, I think that this is crazy talk. It has just enough of the sound of truth to it that people might get sucked in. From the sections you quote, it’s hard to tell, and I haven’t perused the website, but it sounds like they’re trying to make the argument that the government has no right to order you to do anything (like, oh, I don’t know, maybe pay taxes?). Best of luck to them. Every so often, a mad hatter runs an argument like that in Tax Court. Those are the fun opinions to read.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. :smiley:


Right. Capitalization has no value as to the meaning of the word. As an aside, my understanding is that at the time he wrote the original draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thos. Jefferson was on a mission to get rid of excessive capitalization and didn’t capitalize any word in his draft, including “creator.” The capitalization that appeared in the final draft was the work of the Continental Congress as a whole, and all it does is identify nouns, proper names and the beginning of sentences.

Concerning citizenship, it need only be added that the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment was a reaction to Dred Scott v. Sandford, not an attempt to create a new class of citizens. Before the Scott case, few would have questioned that all native-born or naturalized persons except for slaves were both state and federal citizens. In the Scott case, however, CJ Taney concluded that even a free black person could never be a citizen of the United States, and he had to torture the relationship between state and federal citizenship in order to do it.

His ruling was still on the books and not overridden as of 1868, and if allowed to stand, it invited the reconstructed Southern states to deny African Americans rights, such as access to courts, because they weren’t citizens. The first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment simply restored the pre-Taney “common sense” status quo.


On what planet? That’s kinda what the freed part was all about.

This may have come from here: PostModernism Generator

Thing is, this is a huge quantum leap. And what difference would it make, legally if there were two different kinds of citizenship?


You had Ecstasy and didn’t share it. :mad:

A little metaphysical? In what way is it a POA? I guess its a durable POA. . . hmmm . . And where does that get us anyway. A POA extends to anything that it says it extends to–no more, no less. So it could easily be a very limited POA, couldn’t it? And oh yeah, the biggie. . . so what? I’m getting dizzy.

Thanks for the cite which reminds me of, and reinforces my ability to entirely disregard postmodern writers. It’s easy to dismiss anyone who writes like this in explaining their subject matter.

“2. Subtextual deappropriation and the capitalist paradigm of expression”

“‘Society is dead,’ says Lacan. It could be said that Lyotard suggests the use of semanticist precultural theory to attack hierarchy. Lacan uses the term ‘postcultural narrative’ to denote the bridge between sexual identity and language.”

The main theme of Reicher’s[5] critique of neocapitalist theory is the role of the writer as participant. Thus, in Jackie Brown, Tarantino deconstructs semanticist precultural theory; in Reservoir Dogs, although, he analyses structuralist objectivism. If neocapitalist theory holds, we have to choose between semanticist precultural theory and neosemantic appropriation."

“‘Sexual identity is fundamentally impossible,’ says Lyotard; however, according to Abian[6] , it is not so much sexual identity that is fundamentally impossible, but rather the economy, and thus the failure, of sexual identity. But any number of theories concerning not discourse, as Foucaultist power relations suggests, but postdiscourse exist. Brophy[7] states that we have to choose between the capitalist paradigm of expression and precultural situationism.”

This is (pdf) even better than Sokol’s Hoax.

Looks like somebody was bogarting the crack pipe…

That reminds me of a joke article in Astounding Science Fiction about the amazing properties of resublimated triothymaline which dissolved before the water was added. Many readers took it as a fact. I forget the author but it might have been Robert Heinlein.

“The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline”, by Isaac Asimov.

“On the Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline”, by Isaac Asimov, who was at the time it was written working on his own biochemistry PhD thesis. But I’m not seeing the resemblance. See, the thiotimoline piece makes sense.

My first problem with this screed is distinguishing the difference between “citizen of the United States” and “United States citizen”. While the grammatical structures are a bit different there (in the first, “of the United States” is a prepositioned genitive noun, while in the second, “United States” is an adjective), so far as I can tell, they have exactly the same meaning.

I also must wonder what the author’s purpose is. Is he saying that the government is exploiting blacks, and decrying this shameful state of affairs, or is he saying that legally the government should exploit blacks, and is decrying the fact that they don’t?

When I started my reply your post wasn’t up yet. I didn’t read it until after I posted/

I think (it’s always a bit difficult to figure out what a moonbat is trying to say) he is trying to assert that the government swindled everybody out of their rights on the pretext of protecting the freedmen.

That sounds about right. This whole website reads like a lot of other Paranoid Ultra-Right-Wing Looniness of the kind spouted by militiamen and income tax dodgers and so on. These are the kinds of people who think Federal courts are ‘Courts of Admiralty’ because there is fringe on the flag in the courtroom.

Anyway, they don’t want to be citizens of the Federal government but they still want to be Americans (and, perhaps, citizens of the state in which they reside) so they invent tortured pseudolegal reasoning with incantation-like formulas to ‘prove’ that they are Sovereign Citizens or Freemen or Citizens of the United States of America or whatever group they are shilling for. The most testing their theories get is when an overworked judge laughs them out of court.

The Tax Protester FAQ has a long section on this subject. It’s a favorite of the looney tax avoider fringe.

The explication is too long to quote here, but the origins are of interest:

And certainly there are Stretch-Hummer-loads of cases explicitly denying that the Citizens wording has any effect whatsoever.