Monday, September 22, 2008

Celebrating our Rights

image I practically cried when I read the statistics below. Seriously. It struck a fear in my heart, let me tell you. If people don't know their basic rights as Americans, it's no wonder they are being violated.

The quote below is from Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director The First Amendment Center, Washington, DC. (Courtesy Michael Haskinsand Ted Pease)

“Perhaps one reason so many [Americans] are not fearful of, or would even invite, government limits on the five freedoms is that so few of us can even name them.

“The survey found again this year that just 3 percent of those questioned could name ‘petition’ as one of the five freedoms in the First Amendment. Only ‘speech’ was named by a majority of respondents, 56 percent. Less than 20 percent named religion (15 percent), press (15 percent) or assembly (14 percent). . . . 4 in 10 could not name any freedom--the highest such result in the survey’s history.

“[These are] ‘inalienable’ rights for all, indeed—but in today’s United States, rights that are unknown, unnamed, or even undefended, by many.”

It's worth spreading around. We need to spend more time celebrating the rights we have, instead of letting the fear of terrorists be the rule of law. We need to let the celebration of our rights be a stronger component of our culture, something we refer to and remember often. It's appalling to me how the fundamental rights given to us by our country are being chipped away at.

Can your kids imagine a world without these rights? Can we? Teaching them once every couple years in history class won't work. They need to be something we refer to often.

Once our respect and remembrance for our rights are gone, what will we, as Americans, have to be proud of? Worse, can we imagine the sort of life our children will have without these rights?

If we forget the value of our basic rights and freedoms as Americans, we doom our children and grandchildren to learn their value the hard way. We doom them to learn their value at the cost already paid by the founders of our country.

It's not too high a price for our freedoms; it's too high a price for forgetting the value of what we have, for forgetting the the sacrifices those before us have made for our freedoms.

And after we remind ourselves, we need to remind our politicians. Often.

16 bonus scribbles:

Edie 9/22/2008 09:46:00 PM  

Looking at your previous blog, it doesn't appear that the Republican Party agrees about the right of assembly. Lately I'm wondering about their opinion on the freedom of religion.

spyscribbler 9/22/2008 10:17:00 PM  

I'm sure concerned, Edie. I don't know. Just if I sit back and imagine the trajectory from when I first noticed politics, to now, it seems like we are headed to a bad place. Financially, internationally, and our basic rights.

I'm really upset about the arrests from the previous blog. Like you said, the right of assembly. How could they?

But they've been doing it with terror suspects for years. It was eventually going to trickle to us.

Dube 9/23/2008 12:35:00 AM  

Great post. As a law student, it's hard for me to imagine anyone not knowing our basic rights! I thought everyone did. This is eye-opening.

Zoe Winters 9/23/2008 10:31:00 AM  

instead of saying the pledge of allegiance everyday (which doesn't it just gear people up to be government obeying robots and support nationalism?) I think school age children should recite some statement of their American rights.

Melanie Avila 9/23/2008 11:20:00 AM  

Great post Spy. I agree one hundred percent that as soon as people start to forget their rights, someone more powerful will step in and take them away.

Vwriter 9/23/2008 01:42:00 PM  

Wow. Thanks for the wake-up call. You've given me something to think about.

StarvingWriteNow 9/23/2008 03:29:00 PM  

The whole point of terrorism is to create terror. You don't have to blow up buildings to do that. And once terror is created, and the lawmakers step in to "protect" their citizens, freedom gets constricted. Little by little, day by day. And if people don't stand up and say "no more", they'll have us in a stranglehold so tight we won't get loose.

Virginia Lady 9/23/2008 04:32:00 PM  

I'm not surprised by those numbers given what I've seen on TV. The Tonight Show's Jay Leno does a bit that is called "Jay Walking" and he stops people on the street and asks them some basic questions that anyone should know. Like who the President of the United States is. Or where our nation's capital is located? Since I live right outside that capital, I know a lot about our government, hard not to, but I was horrified the first time I saw the show.

How did these people get out of grade school? They are poster children for 'No Child Left Behind". Unfortunately, some of them are even teachers in our schools today.

We really need to be teaching people what the constitution means, not just that we have one.

Robin 9/23/2008 10:30:00 PM  

I visited the Norman Rockwell museum in Massachusetts with the boys a couple of years ago. They have the original paintings he did of "The Freedoms". They were so beautiful, I cried. Maybe they need to start touring the country.

spyscribbler 9/24/2008 12:28:00 PM  

Dube, it makes me want to be a law student! :-)

spyscribbler 9/24/2008 12:30:00 PM  

Zoe, that's a great idea! Someone just had a great post up along those lines I think you'd enjoy. I'll try to find it and send it to you!

spyscribbler 9/24/2008 12:30:00 PM  

Melanie, it scares me! Totally scares me. I've begun referring to them in my piano lessons, LOL!

spyscribbler 9/24/2008 12:32:00 PM  

Vwriter, it was a wake-up call for me! And I couldn't name petition, either. I didn't know freedom of press was one, either: I thought that was sort of a sub-heading under freedom of speech.

spyscribbler 9/24/2008 12:34:00 PM  

Writenow, did you get that DVD in the mail? Some foundation or fund or something is sending out free DVDs to "warn" us about the terror threat. I got one today. I threw it away. I should dig it out so I can blog about it.

I can't help but notice the timing so close to the election.

spyscribbler 9/24/2008 12:36:00 PM  

Virginia, when I was in school, they came out with the 9th grade proficiency exam that you had to pass in order to graduate from high school.

Something crazy like 30 - 40% failed the politics portion. I distinctly remember one question, which was representative of the level of questions:

It showed a picture of five or eight different flats. You had to correctly identify the U.S. flag.

And a large percentage failed. FAILED!

spyscribbler 9/24/2008 12:39:00 PM  

That is so cool, Robin! I find it interesting that in the Freedom of Speech picture, all the men listening are in suits and ties, and the man talking is clearly blue collar.