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Last week, I attended Glenn Beck University's Hope 101 class (here's a recap.) Last night, I attended the third and final class the 101 series, Charity 101.

The professor this time is an actual professor: LSU's James Stoner. Despite myself, I like Stoner. He's the only one of Beck U's professors who is genuinely professorial. He's nerdy, he uses big words like "polemical" in improvised asides, he acknowledges that every issue has more than one side, and admits that the government was intended to be complex. Stoner talks about the roots of the word congress—ingress is the way in, egress is the way out, congress is coming together—and I feel as though he must've lost his audience several times last night with little flourishes like that. Based on the lackluster post-class conversation, I think it's fair to say that Stoner was the least popular professor at Beck U so far.

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Positives aside, Stoner says some truly stupid things. The Constitution, Stoner says, is a living document (Ron Paul would disagree with you, there, sir), but the very phrase living document "has been abused" by progressives. "They really mean it’s living in the way a tumor is living," Stoner says, "It changes, it metastasizes." Republicans and the framers. he says, intended The Constitution to be living like a life form. "It grows up to become mature and adult," and "more fully what it was at the outset."

He also suggests that the federal government is mostly involved in "peace and prosperity," leaving other laws to the states. "There is no federal law against murder, per se," Stoner says, "There is no federal law providing basic ownership of property." He starts and stops himself, chuckles, and then says, “I almost said that there’s no federal law of marriage, though that’s become an issue in the last few years.” That was an important moment—Stoner clearly believes that gay marriage is a state's rights issue, but he's afraid of Beck's audience turning on him. He inadvertently highlighted what's wrong with the Tea Party right there: Anybody who's made any amount of study of the Constitution and Constitutional History can't reconcile their knowledge with the Tea Party platform, which is basically: "We're old, white and straight. and we want everyone to be old, white, and straight. Plus: We hate taxes!"

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But for the most part, Charity 101 (which, it must be said, had nothing to do with charity except for a weird preamble by Beck about how taxes are taking away our ability to give to charity) was a straightforward history of the Constitution, the Articles of Confederation, and how government works. I'm assuming Stoner will go off the deep end in coming weeks, but the vast majority of his discussion was a pretty basic Civics class without any right-wing nuttism involved. The entertainment mostly centered around the hilarious typos in various chapter title cards throughout the lecture. Two examples are above.

More, including screen shots and excerpts from the Beck U's students confused post-lecture chat, is after the jump.

The circles are the states. The lines behind the states are the people.
  • The circles are the states. The lines behind the states are the people.

[Comment From Andrew of South Jordan: ]
In your opinion, which president in the last Century respected the Constitution the most?


James Stoner:
Not sure about which president: A case can be made for Taft; or Coolidge; or Kennedy; or Reagan (probably my favorite on this score). Good question.


The people send representatives to the states and to the central government.
  • The people send representatives to the states and to the central government.

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[Comment From Newtie and the Beauty: ]
Does Glenn know you are using his blackboard?


[Comment From PICAPOI: ]
"Living Document": Doesn't it mean that it is our continued responsibility to interpret for & apply to contemporary times BUT without changing the Founder's original intent/meaning?

BeckU Team:
That's not what I heard, shhhhh . . .

James Stoner:
Precisely my point!

[Comment From Bonnie: ]
Good graph, easy to picture the government parts related to the people.

[Comment From MichaelMS: ]
It looks like pizza.. you are making me hungry


[Comment From santacary: ]
can you explain the differce between republic and democecrat governments?


[Comment From Mandy: ]
Thank-you! learned a lot more than 4 yrs of college taught me!

[Comment From Michael: ]
I understand this stuff, and I am 14!


[Comment From Roxanne in Biloxi, MS: ]
I've learned more about U.S. history in 3 weeks, than in all of high school. Thank you Prof. Stoner for sharing your expertise.