Willis and Millie
The phrase ex falso quodlibet / from a falsehood, anything (follows), is known as the “principle of explosion” because it blows-up (makes trivial) how true and false work.
The book Farm Boy by Archie Lieberman (1974) depicts my maternal grandparents, Willis and Mildred (Evans) Hammer, as they farmed and raised a family. I’m pretty sure Willis and Millie didn’t know any Latin other than what they learned in Bible study; they would have understood “from a falsehood, anything (follows)” though, and even taught a similar lesson: two wrongs don’t make a right.
There are two great wrongs involving We the People and the usurpation of representation according to numbers. The first involves the usurpation that happened 9 April 1792, when, in response to President Washington’s veto of the first bill sent from Congress regarding the enumeration (census of 1790) and representation, the House of Representatives usurped a shall; the House ignored Washington’s veto and the constitutional ratio of "one for every thirty Thousand" and passed a number more likeable to the usurpers: one for every 33,000.
The original constitutional ex falso quodlibet may appear small and perhaps harmless, but consider this: it created the conditions for the second great usurpation, the one that began in 1920. With women getting the vote and other social disruptions within the WW1 era, the House of 1920 did something extraordinary for the second great wrong: nothing. Since the first usurpation, Congress had at least kept using a number, they just kept increasing the ratio in favor of the usurpers; instead of using the census as intended, the counting of We the People for representation, the 1920 House openly ignored Article 1, Section 2, Clause 3 of our Constitution. It wasn’t until 1929, with the next decennial enumeration looming, that a law was passed setting House representation at 435, regardless of number, thus counteracting the definition of We the People.
Things tend to end as they began. The original usurpation of 9 April 1792 was a fill-in-the-blank moment; the bill was prepared with a blank left for a number and then the usurpers wrote in 33,000. We the People might follow a similar plan, one of mimicry; the 1792 usurpers read the Constitution and acted with pen and paper: nowadays, it feels like We the People are beginning to do the same thing.
*Next Up: Gus Kotka and Johnny Reb begin a summer series on Juneteenth 2018, Somewhere On Our Way.
Posted by Bryan W. Brickner