Thursday, September 28, 2006

Freedom...ho hum
How's this for depressing?
Every organized society, from the most libertarian to the totally repressive, shares one goal: raising its children to believe in its institutions and ideology. If our values matter, they need to be passed on.
Two political scientists at the University of Connecticut surveyed high school students in 2004 and '06 and made an alarming discovery: Regard for the First Amendment to the Constitution declined between the surveys.
Four out of five high school students felt they knew enough to give opinions on this 215-year-old list of rights. And among them, 55% thought the First Amendment goes too far in granting rights.

That's a turnaround from two years ago, when 57% expressed support for the First Amendment and its enumerated rights.
The decline in support for the First Amendment as a whole came despite an apparent increase in the number of students taking high school classes that cover First Amendment issues: 72% in 2006 vs. 58% two years ago. Dautrich acknowledges that some of that could be testing effect. All 34 of the high schools in the second survey had participated in the first, and that might have motivated them to teach the First Amendment before Round 2.
We like to pick on kids in these surveys (like the suveys that show fewer and fewer of them able to pick out Spain on a world map), but is there any doubt that adults would answer the questions the same way, showing a similar growing disregard for First Amendment freedoms?

And do we have any doubt that this phenomenon also is related to the rise of authoritarian attitudes (which a new study also showed has developed a new alliance with the Republican Party). What is this all about? Ignorance? The fear of terrorism? An inability to perceive threats to one's own freedoms?

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