lundi, février 21, 2005

If You Meet the First Amendment on the Road, Hit It With a Stick

Three fourths of high school students don’t think about the First Amendment or take it for granted.

High school students are less likely than adults to think that people have a right to express unpopular opinions.

High schools students are less likely than adults to think that newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

75% of high school students think that burning the flag is illegal.

More than half think that the government can restrict indecent material on the Internet.

Students who do not participate in media related activity are less likely to think that people should be allowed to burn the flag.

Students who have taken media classes are more likely to think that people should be allowed to express unpopular ideas.

One in five schools offers no media at all.

Of the high schools that do not offer student newspapers, 40 percent have eliminated them within the last five years. Of those, 68 percent have no media at all.

Low-income and non-suburban schools have a harder time maintaining media than wealthier and suburban schools do.


Conservatives have to love this. George Bush is the principle proponent of “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists,” the cornerstone of suppressing unpopular views, and, in turn, one cause of our young people’s ignorance about our most precious freedom.

Conservatives also hate free expression. If it were up to them, the First Amendment would be limited to freedom of (Christian) religion, and the rest would be thrown away (see, e.g. The USA Patriot Act). The Second Amendment, on the other hand, would be interpreted as broadly as possible.

Freedom of the press? Don’t need it. Corporations control the media now, so what’s the big deal if government controls it? Do we really need a fourth estate? More cynically, do we even have one now anyway?

The Bush administration proves nothing if it doesn’t prove that too many of us would chuck our rights and freedoms if given even the slightest provocation. I was listening to a radio show the other day, and a caller said, "most Americans would give up half of their freedoms and rights for lower taxes and no crime." I almost agreed. The only expception I see is the right to bear arms, that's really our most protected freedom.

Bush also proves that we can’t really focus on too many things at the same time. We’re so busy worried about condoms and tolerance education in our schools that we don’t have time to care that all of our patriotic leaders are trampling on our freedoms while American soldiers fight for the supposed freedoms (or is it liberty - I get them confused) of others. We can't even focus on the asbestos in the hallways, or the vast differences between the best and worse high schools in most states.

No sir, too busy hitting the First Amendment with a stick to notice that!