Brown Daily Herald Columnist Uses Fake Thomas Jefferson Quotation in Noxious Column

Last week in the Brown Daily Herald, junior Oliver Hudson argued that universal suffrage is “immoral”. On Sunday Hudson responded to his critics — who had produced some 272 comments on the Herald’s website  — by quoting James Madison and Thomas Jefferson:

In fact, the founders despised democracy. James Madison, the “father of the Constitution,” argued in the famous Federalist 10 that democracy is an undesirable form of government, incompatible with “personal security or the rights of property.” Thomas Jefferson, who penned the words “all men are created equal,” said of democracy: “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51 percent of the people may take away the rights of the other 49.”

As an eagle-eyed Herald commenter points out, there is no record of Thomas Jefferson declaring democracy “nothing more than mob rule.” According to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which collects “spurious quotes” attributed to its namesake,

We currently have no evidence to confirm that Thomas Jefferson ever said or wrote, “Democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%” or any of its listed variations. We do not know the source of this statement’s attribution to Thomas Jefferson.

This is principal to Hudson’s defense: that (like Jefferson) one can believe that all men are created equal yet also believe (like Jefferson) that democracy is a savage manner of governance. So where does Hudson’s defense stand if Jefferson never argued the latter? Which other historical figure believed in equal rights but not democracy? (Also, where does the Brown Daily Herald stand on using false quotations? Or on fact-checking in general?)

9 Responses to “Brown Daily Herald Columnist Uses Fake Thomas Jefferson Quotation in Noxious Column”

  1. dped Says:

    Obviously The Herald fact checks and issues corrections. Don’t damn the whole paper based on one stupid opinions column.

  2. John Mack Says:

    This boy seems to be one of the willingly gullible in regard to right wing made-up “quotes.”Some right winger makes a quote, and it spreads through their ranks, without any verification. Most people using these “quotes” are just using right wing sources without thinking.

  3. Brown'13 Says:

    the herald does fact check, but the opinions section is generally edited separately from the rest of the publication so as to avoid conflict of interest on either side.

  4. Guest Says:

    Conflicts of interest between facts and opinions?

  5. Brown student Says:

    Almost all major newspapers separate their opinion and news sections so that the opinions of editorial columnists will not affect how writers and editors report on the news. It’s common practice at The New York Times and almost every venerable newspaper.

  6. brown(bares) '14 Says:

    lol… who cares? this article sounds like it was ghost-written by a brown student… no one else would GAF

  7. dwight mannsburden Says:

    Sure, wouldn’t it be great if only the smart and educated made decisions? Kid, as with Plato’s benevolent dictator model, the problem is: who gets to choose the rulers?

    Let us know in 20 years if you realize you’re not as smart as you think you are now.

  8. Barbara Jasińska Says:

    It’s nothing new. I’ve red some articles-interviews with, I would bet, fictional people.

  9. Huck Mucus Says:

    For the sake of argument only, in the worst case scenario, it was a lie,
    thus casting *some* doubt on the author and calling for closer scrutiny
    on the balance of his piece. So move on to the merits of the
    contention: The Bill of Rights is specifically designed to prevent a
    tyranny of the majority, thus it could be argued the founding fathers
    did indeed have reservations about the wisdom of the people as exercised
    through “democracy.” Hence also, the republic, balance of powers, the
    legislative split between a House and Senate, electoral college and on
    and on and on.

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