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by mg at 09:13 AM on March 07, 2006

A new survey reveals that Americans know more about the Simpsons than they do about the First Amendment. (link)

Only 1 in 1000 of those surveyed were able to name all five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, while 1 in 5 could name all five members of the Simpsons family. Only 1 in 4 could name more than two of the five freedoms, yet more than 1 in 2 could name at least two members of the Simpsons family.

Before I read this, Iíd be real bummed to admit that I could only name 4 of the 5 First Amendment Freedoms. But after reading the article and knowing that only 69% were able to even get Freedom of Speech, the Homer Simpson of freedoms, Iím feeling much better about myself. But then I read that 87% know more Ralph Wiggumís quotes than I do, so it bummed me out again.

The results of this survey sounds bad, and I mean real bad, on first read, and Iím sure this will make the headlines on evening newscasts around the world, but letís take a minute and put this all in a little perspective.

For one thing, the study was conducted by the McCormick Tribune Foundation on behalf of the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum. This is a museum dedicated to the First Amendment that, oh!, just happens to be opening its doors in about two months. Trusting this survey is like trusting Saddam Hussein that he doesnít have any weapons of mass destruction. Sure, it may turn out that he doesnít, but Iím not about to take his word on it. (* ed note - The last two sentences were actually written in 2002).

Another thing to consider is that I donít need to be able to list all the laws of physics or explain why e=mc2 works (but I can) for them to continue to rule the actions of every molecule in existence, from those that make up the paper the Bill of Rights is written on, to a star on the farthest edge of the universe. It may make you a bad civics professor, but it doesnít necessarily make you a bad citizen to not know that you have the right to assemble peaceably.

Only 1% of those surveyed could come up with the Freedom to Petition for Redress of Grievances. Iíll admit that was the one that slipped my mind. While 999 out of 1000 people not being able to come up with the answer to anything is probably telling us something, what is it telling us here? Nothing, because if you asked those same people what theyíd do if they got a paper-cut being handed the mail by their U.S. postman, and youíd immediately be served with 100 lawsuits ending with ďvs the United States of America.Ē

Some might say that this survey goes to show how much our Constitutional freedoms are taken for granted. Iíd say that, if anything, it goes to show you how much the world has changed in 200 years. At one point someone needed to write down and make it a law that everyone had the right to practice whatever religion they wanted without the government hassling them about it. Today that and so many other freedoms are so ingrained into our society that most people need never think about not having that freedom.

One in five surveyed thought that the right to own pets was guaranteed by the First Amendment. Wow, Iíve tried to defend American intelligence up to now, but this is just silly. Everyone knows the right to own pets was not guaranteed in the Constitution until 1863 when President Lincoln issued the Emanci-pet-ion Proclamation.

Yes, it would be great if everyone in this country could name not just the five freedoms of the First Amendment, but each of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution. But rote memorization isnít thing important thing; it is that we live our lives according to the spirit of the Constitution. I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said ďA noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.Ē Ainít that the truth, brother; as much today as it was back in 1776.

comments (8)

Cromulent post, mg.

by Adam L. at March 7, 2006 9:59 AM

mg proves once again that he is a genius!

by eviltom at March 7, 2006 12:32 PM

Sad. It could just be that The Simpsons is more entertaining than the whatcha-ma-callums... amenities... thingies, and therefore more memorable. Or, it could simply be you Americans really are pretty dumb on the whole. S'nothing to be ashamed of, peh, embrace the stupidity. There, doesn't that feel better?

Given the opportunity your people would elect Morgan Freeman for president, because he did a pretty good job with that whole meteor/comety crisis thingy. I'm telling ya, just embrace it, don't fight it.

I pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for all.
To The Simpsons,
and owning of pets,
and other cool stuff, like MTV.
Uh-huh, doight doight, flip... flop... flip... flop... this is funny... flip... flop.... heh... keep it going... flip... flop... flip... flop.

What was with that? Couple o' hundred people repeating the same jokey chant and finding it amusing every single time. The eyes of the world generally turn to America to see who they're gonna put in the cockpit of the world... and the best you have by way of mature election broadcasts is flip... flop... flip... uh... flip? No, flop after flip. Oh, flop, flip... no, ah forget it. Eee I jest. You're instantly forgiven for being stoopid, because you gave us six funny Friends living in NYC through nine seasons of pure comedic genius. Brad Pitt's and Jolie's... Anistons... Baldwin's... other cool stuff. Pam Anderson! Thanks for that. The Hoff and Baywatch pwned saturday night British television for almost three years! Now who's stupid?

by Ex Crimson Guard NCO at March 7, 2006 5:01 PM

I'm all about the 'mendments. I'm working on #2 this month, I'll probably mosey over to #3 to see what it's doing in April.

by Adam at March 8, 2006 7:06 AM

"embiggens." Something about that word just doesn't look right. Did Tom-J really say that? And what is up with this "Tomkat?" Talk about trading down!

by anna at March 8, 2006 7:38 AM

I've given up trying to comment on the little sidebar things you do. I always get some error message. But we're all LOL over the AYDS thing. Anyone who hasn't viewed it should.

by anna at March 8, 2006 6:35 PM

Are you seriously asking about "embiggens"?

Anna can you try to leave another comment over there and tell me the error you are getting? Anyone else who wants to give it a try let me know how it goes because it works fine for me.

by mg at March 8, 2006 11:50 PM

It says something about you having installed something to stop malicious comments and to wait and then try again. But like the guys in Spinal Tap, I haven't got time for that.

by anna at March 9, 2006 7:48 AM

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