When I saw this video I knew right away that this David Barton guy was full of shit. (Of course just the fact that he was being interviewed by Glenn Beck was probably all I needed to know to figure that out.) However I wasn't confident that we would ever be able to PROVE that he as full of shit.
So I was thrilled when I saw this post over at Wonkette:
Well, it turns out that the topic of guns is pretty darn popular at the moment, so Barton has been having himself a fine old time with tales of how in America’s Good Old Days, an armed populace kept everyone happy and free. Arm teachers? Better yet, why not arm the kids, too? As we see in the video up top, that idea is grounded in the very best Authentic Frontier Gibberish available — after all, it convinced even a skeptical tough guy like Glenn Beck! This week, we learned that Barton’s tale appears to come from an unimpeachable source of knowledge on the Old West — a 1979 novel by Louis L’Amour, Bendigo Shafter.
Barton told Beck this charming true tale of how guns keep good people — even kids! — so very safe and free from worry:
“The great example, in the 1850s you have a school teacher who’s teaching. A guy — he’s out in the West — this guy from New England wants to kill him and find him. So he comes into the school with his gun to shoot the teacher, he decides not to shoot the teacher because all the kids pull their guns out and point it at him and say, ‘You kill the teacher, you die.’ He says, ‘Okay.’ The teacher lives. Real simple stuff. Saved the life of — there was no shooting because all the kids — we’re talking in elementary school — all the kids pull their guns out and says, ‘We like our teacher. You shoot our teacher, we’ll kill you.’”
Wonkette then linked to a female blogger named Chris Rodda who makes it her business to fact check David Barton. Here is what she found:
I assumed that Barton was either exaggerating a real story or just making the whole thing up, but since he didn’t give any source for the story or enough specifics to fact check it, I thought it would be impossible to find out whether or not there was any truth to it. I didn’t even consider that it might have come from a novel, but when a commenter on my previous post noted the striking similarity between Barton’s story and a story from the Louis L’Amour novel Bendigo Shafter, I downloaded the Kindle version of the novel and checked it out.
I wasn’t about to read an entire Louis L’Amour novel, but read enough to get the gist of the story:
The teacher in L’Amour’s novel was Drake Morrell, a gambler and gunfighter who had killed five men. Morrell was sentenced to be hanged in San Francisco, but somehow escaped and ended up in a town in Wyoming, where he became a respected citizen and, of course, the school teacher. But he was still being pursued by a character named Stacy Follett. Years earlier, Morrell had exposed that Follett and his friends were cheating at cards. Two of Follett’s friends had confronted Morrell with guns, and Morrell had shot and killed them. Follett caught up with Morrell and went to the school where he was teaching to kill the now respectable school teacher, who was defended by his gun-toting students.
Here’s how the character Follett recounted the incident at the school to another character in the book when asked if he had killed Morrell:
“… And then I looked at him over my cup. “Did you kill Drake Morrell?”
He chuckled again. “Decided agin it.” He sipped his coffee. “You know somethin’? After he started that there schoolteachin’ I figured I had him dead to rights. I laid out for him, waitin’ until he was out of school, and when he come out the door, I shaped up with my old Betsy girl here” — he slapped his rifle — “right on his belly. I had him where he couldn’t move. There was youngsters all around him, and he stood there lookin’ at me and never turned a hair. He had sand, that Morrell.”
"Has. He’s still around. You want to know what happened? I nigh got myself kilt. Five or six of them youngsters, weren’t but two of them upwards of twelve or thirteen, they outs with their six-shooters and had me covered.
“They told me he was their teacher and he was a mighty good one and if I shot him they’d fill my hide.”
He chuckled again. “An’ you know somethin’? They’d of done it, too.”
“Nothin’. I pulled down my flag. Pulled her down right quick. I never seen so many youngsters with six-shooters.”
Can you believe that shit? So essentially this David Barton guy, who claims to have access to secret historical manuscripts that tell a different version of American history than the one taught in public schools, referenced a fictional story from a paper back copy of a Louis L'Amour book in an attempt to sell Beck''s audience on the "fact" that in olden times American classrooms were protected from attack by gun wielding school children.
And do you know what? I bet Glenn Beck's listeners ate it up with a spoon, and undoubtedly repeated it to their friends and family as if it were an actual historic fact.
And that my friends is why you don't get your information or historical facts from Right Wing radio, or Fox News.
By the way if David Barton wants to refute the idea that he got his information from a work of western fiction than he is welcome to produce the document that proves otherwise, but until he does and I VERY comfortable stating that we caught his lying ass red handed.