Thursday, July 18, 2013
Ignorance On First Amendment Rights
First Amendment Center has been polling Americans to see what they know about the Constitution -- specifically the First Amendment (which contains some of our most important rights). This year's survey questioned 1,006 adults nationwide, and has a margin of error of 3.2 points.
I made the charts above from information contained in this year's survey -- and I have to say they show some very disappointing results. Note in the top chart that, when asked what was in the First Amendment, the only right that a majority of Americans could name was freedom of speech, and that was only 59% of respondents that knew that. About 24% knew it contained freedom of religion, 14% knew it guaranteed freedom of press, 11% knew about freedom of assembly, and 4% knew it gave citizens the right to petition government -- and a whopping 36% could not name a single right in the First Amendment.
The results were also disappointing when respondents were asked to name the most important right in the First Amendment. This was purely a matter of personal opinion, as long as the right named was truly a First Amendment right. Unfortunately, 7% named freedom of choice, 5% said freedom to vote, and 5% said freedom to own a gun -- none of which have anything to do with the First Amendment. That's 17% naming something not in the First Amendment.
The third chart gets even worse. Respondents were asked if the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees to Americans -- and 34% (more than one out of every three) said YES, the First Amendment gives citizens too many rights. I honestly don't know what to say about that. How can any person want less rights?
And all I can say about the bottom chart is that too many Americans evidently have not read the Constitution. About 51% (23% strongly and 28% mildly) say the Constitution established the United States as a christian country. If they had read that wonderful document, they would know that it never mentions god (or Jesus or christianity). And it only mentions religion twice -- first to guarantee freedom of religion (First Amendment), and to say there is no religious test to hold office (Article VI). It does NOT establish this country as a christian nation, and was never meant to do so by the Founding Fathers.
This astounding ignorance of our Constitution and its First Amendment does help to explain one thing though -- why so many idiots have been elected to Congress.