Thursday, March 02, 2006

I Wasn't Using That Freedom Anyway

Leah links to a story about how only one in 1,000 Americans can name all five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. Meanwhile, Wonkette notes that apparently our armed forces - or at least the Marines - don't actually get to enjoy those freedoms. Hmmm... those protecting our freedoms don't get to enjoy the freedoms they're protecting. Yeah, that seems fair. Refreshments fans, you know what I'm referring to.

Of course, high school kids still don't understand the First Amendment. This is probably because adults don't get it either. You also have to wonder how many people know what the Fourth Amendment guarantees. Or used to guarantee, before the Bush Administration turned it into so much parchment confetti.

One wonders why the ACLU gets such a bad rap. I guess it's tough to get the adulation you deserve when you're defending rights people don't even know about. Like the free exercise of religion. Or free speech. Or Rush Limbaugh's right to privacy.

I wonder how many people out there are waving the "free expression" banner about the cartoon thing while simultaneously supporting laws making flag burning illegal. Well, if that article Leah links to is right, 999 out of 1000.

Oh well. At least this is spiffy.


Mike said...

The irony is that if people aren't familiar with basic tenets of government, I'm not sure how much of the Simpsons they actually get anyway -- many episodes are littered with historical and governmental jokes that are likely to go over peoples' heads if they don't grasp our basic constitutional rights.

There will be a post on that Marine thing at some point. Oh yes. There will be a post on that Marine thing at some point.

Anonymous said...

Kids don't understand the value of the first amendment?

Horrifying? Yes. Surprising? No. This is what you get when you rely on the govenrment to educate people. First off they don't get educated. Second, they get fed "GOVERNMENT IS GOOD" propoganda until they start viewing anything that restricts government power as "bad". TJHSST was somewhat of an anomoly but I think that has changed since we graduated...

If I ever have kids, I'm starting to give homeschooling some serious consideration.

- miguel

Andy said...

As a vet, I'll comment on this idea of not having certain freedoms. I think that implicit in signing up for duty, in deciding to protect others and their freedoms, is the notion that you're going to have to suck it up a little. You won't be able to just say what you want, write what you want, go where you want, etc, because you represent the military. Is that for everyone? NO, not at all. So don't join. If you think that fighting for liberty is more important access to websites, then the military might be for you.

As for the first admendment, I don't think this is such a big deal. As Jeff would know, I've spent my life in school. Can I recall everything I've ever read or learned? Far from it. Is it such a big deal that we should be able to recite the five freedoms in the First Amendment? No, it's only important that we should be able to find out what they are, should the occasion arise.

Mike said...

What bothers me about the First Amendment thing is not that people can't recite the five freedoms by rote, but that the high school kids in the second article think they aren't important. Read the first sentence: "The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech."

I don't know how the rest of you feel, but that scares the hell out of me.

Andy said...

I guess I could follow this up as well (man, how did I get suckered into this argument as the opposing view?). I worked for a couple years as a writer for a newspaper, but all of us know better: newspapers run the most alarming things first or as pull-quotes. Let's not get out of hand here, I know what the first sentence says ("the way many high school students see . . .") but what's "many"? That's unbelievably subjective. Let's see how the article backs that statement up.

Looking at the rest of the article: 1. 83% of students think people should be allowed to express unpopular views 2. 3 of 4 students said they took the 1st amendment for granted, the article did not say that they disagreed with it. 3. Three in four thought burning the flag was illegal, while it's not. I could go on, but the point should be obvious -- this article doesn't say (as Mike would like it to) that students think the 1st Amendment is not important, they just don't care. Hmm, sounds like teenagers. And 83%, I'll take that any day. And I am also not suprised at the apathy, it's one of the side effects of a free society, it's easy to forget what it took to get so free. WAY too much is being made of this.

Andy said...

A follow-up. Saw this and thought of you guys, thought you'll would enjoy.

A man is about to lose his job because he put on the side of his work vehicle "Lawn Services Done With Pride!! By An English Speaking American." 1st Amendment grants him freedom of speech. He says "his bleeding heart liberal" boss has it in for him. The county says it harasses non-English speakers, especially those in the lawn service I would imagine. What joy. I thought the 1st Amendment was supposed to be simple.

Jeff said...

And stating that you're English-speaking harrasses non-English speakers how? (Never mind the fact that people who can't speak English probably couldn't read the sign anyway...)

Mike said...

In my own defense, I wouldn't like it to say that students think the 1st Amendment is unimportant, I'd like it to say they think it's an essential component of what makes America great.

That having been said, Andy, you make a fair point. In fact, it's ironic that I, once fairly heavily involved in an infamous Vanderbilt prank that highlighted how people don't read full articles, should make exactly that mistake. I read the article when Jeff first posted it back when, but I only skimmed the first paragraph to refresh my memory.

The reason it hits home, though, is that I don't think it ends at high school. I remember my English professor junior year at Vandy reading a rather renowned anti-financial aid article in The Torch as an example of libertarianism, and a girl piped up in the back and said, "Can they write that?" What I see in this country is the general erosion of our First Amendment rights, and it scares me.

And finally, case in point: that article about the English-speaking guy is simultaneously hilarious and frightening.

Andy said...

No one gets away with writing that they were involved in "an infamous Vanderbilt prank that highlighted how people don't read full articles" without giving me more details or a html link.

Talk about building suspense.

Mike said...

Heh. Well, there's a link that tells all, but I can't find it because the site's under reconstruction. Suffice to say, it involved myself, Jeff, a few other key players, and the fake death of the chancellor, whose exploits included leading a charge up San Juan Hill. It made CNN.

Andy said...

Found a nice write-up about it here. Well, it started nice and then turned into blah-blah-blah about the number of media sources at Vandy. How many did you guys need, Orbis, Torch, Slant, Hustler, the radio, on and on?

Kind of cool to find out Buster Olney went there, though. Great writer, like his work. And helluva funny idea about the chancellor. San Juan and Iwo Jima, freakin' hilarious.