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The Simpsons v. 1st Amendment

When Americans are tested on their knowledge of the Simpsons versus the rights included in the 1st Amendment, the Simpsons win:

Americans apparently know more about "The Simpsons" than they do about the First Amendment.

Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half can name at least two members of the cartoon family, according to a survey.

The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.

Only 1 in 1000? Yikes, that is really low.

It also showed that people misidentified First Amendment rights. About one in five people thought the right to own a pet was protected, and 38 percent said they believed the right against self-incrimination contained in the Fifth Amendment was a First Amendment right, the survey found.

I can understand the mix up with the Fifth Amendment, but the right to own a pet? Where does that come from?


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Comments (18)

My wife and I discussed thi... (Below threshold)

My wife and I discussed this 'pet' thing this morning...100% of those polled in our household concluded that the 'pet finding' spoke more about the dubious nature of the survey than about the American population. Go out on the street, if 20% of the people you ask think, without joking, that freedom of pets is in the first amendment, I'll eat my hat.

And, by the way, was the story about these results in anybody's paper tied to our crappy educational system? Wasn't in mine. I'm guessing it's Bush's fault.

I chuckle at these comparis... (Below threshold)

I chuckle at these comparisons because they are so contrived. Tell you what, if first amendment rights start getting plastered with 30 minute reruns and regurgitations twice a day on three different networks and people still don't get it then I'll worry.

It's all int he marketing. How many of you can still recite the preamble of the Constitution because of School House Rock?

The freedom-of-pets answer ... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

The freedom-of-pets answer doesn't surprise me. I don't think people who haven't actually been in a public school system in recent years realize just how bad things are these days.

I think part of the problem are the ridiculously high GPA requirements in many teaching programs; you end you end up with rampant grade inflation. On every campus I've ever been on, the education majors don't have a very impressive reputation

I'm pretty sure that I saw ... (Below threshold)
Master Shake:

I'm pretty sure that I saw the right to own a pet in a shadow of a penumbra of the First Amendment, after consulting the opinions of Europeans.

/Justice Kennedy

This doesn't surprise me at... (Below threshold)

This doesn't surprise me at all. Just look at the article below from Bloomberg News if you want to see how the public is having the wool pulled over their eyes. It's quite amazing.......

Bush, an Opponent of Raising Taxes, Proposes $47 Bln in Fees
By Brian Faler
March 1 (Bloomberg) -- While President George W. Bush is adamantly against raising taxes, he's increasingly comfortable with imposing billions of dollars in new government fees, as the airline, commodities and shipping industries have discovered.

Bush's 2007 budget proposal would raise more than $47 billion over the next five years by imposing, raising or extending expiring fees on everything from airline tickets to oil drilling to commodity transactions to ships passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

``It's a way for the administration to get around its `we'll never-raise-taxes' attitude,'' said Stan Collender, managing director of the Washington office of Financial Dynamics, a business-consulting firm.

Bush won't suffer politically from what is essentially a tax increase, because he has backed extending even larger tax cuts, said Grover Norquist, a prominent anti-tax activist.

``A tax increase offset by larger tax cuts may or may not be a good idea, but it's not a sin,'' Norquist said.

Administration officials said the fees shift the costs of programs from taxpayers to the industries and individuals that receive government services. Opponents call the new charges thinly veiled tax increases that are unlikely to be approved by Congress.

The government collects billions of dollars each year in fees in the form of postage stamps, Medicare premiums, entrance tickets to national parks and scores of other charges. Last year, those fees totaled more than $185 billion, the equivalent of about 8 percent of the government's $2.4 trillion budget. The administration's proposal would impose $3.4 billion in new fees next year, growing to $15 billion in 2008 before shrinking to $8.7 billion in 2009.

Airlines, Oil and Gas

The increases would hit a host of industries next year. The administration wants to double the security surcharge on airline tickets. It wants to charge oil and gas companies $4,000 to process permits to drill on federal lands. It wants to charge the meat, poultry and egg industries more for federal safety inspections and increase federal medical-care charges for some military retirees.

``User fees help match the cost of government programs with those who benefit from them,'' said Scott Milburn, a spokesman for the White House's Office of Management and Budget. ``It's not reasonable for all Americans to bear the entire cost of government activities from which they only receive a partial benefit,'' he said.

Commodity Futures

Industries subject to the new fees see the issue differently.

John Damgard, president of the Washington-based trade group Futures Industry Association, said an administration proposal to raise $127 million next year through a new fee on commodity futures and options contracts amounts to a new ``transaction tax.''

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the world's second-biggest securities firm by market value, and Morgan Stanley, the third- biggest securities firm, are among companies represented by the trade group.

``You tax us on the money we make, don't tax us on how we make our money,'' Damgard said.

The fee would apply to approved exchanges and is intended to cover the cost of government regulation of the industry. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is the only federal financial regulator that is not funded by the organizations it oversees.

`Drive Business'

Damgard said the administration's proposal would hurt the futures industry. ``This will drive businesses to markets where they do not require the tax,'' he said.

Lawmakers, including Democrats such as Representative David Obey of Wisconsin and some Republicans, said the proposals amount to accounting gimmicks that enable the administration to claim it's holding the line on spending without having to sacrifice popular programs.

House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis, a California Republican, wrote in a memo to his colleagues that the ``proposals make a difficult appropriations season even harder.''

``They allow the administration to artificially inflate programmatic priorities (and expectations) while at the same time touting a `fiscally conservative' top-line budget number,'' Lewis wrote last month.


Bush also has proposed a new fee on explosives manufacturers that some industry officials said would be excessively costly. Chris Ronay, president of the Institute of Makers of Explosives, a Washington-based trade group, said a proposed 2 cents a pound fee on explosives equals about 12 percent of the cost of the product.

``It is monumentally expensive compared to what people pay today,'' Ronay said.

The administration said the fee would generate an additional $120 million needed to help fund the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which regulates the explosives industry.

Airlines are targeted by a proposal to increase the security surcharge on tickets.

``At the end of the day, the money has to come from somewhere,'' said Transportation Security Administration Director Kip Hawley, defending the proposal at a congressional hearing last month. ``Our sense is that it's fair to have that part of it come from the air passenger.''

A Public Good

The industry has rejected that argument, contending that airline safety is a public good. ``Aviation security is a function of national security and should be paid as such,'' said James May, president of the Washington-based trade group Air Transport Association, which represents companies such as AMR Corp.'s American Airlines and UAL Corp.'s United Airlines.

For some lawmakers, the fees are an obstacle to putting together the federal budget.

``Here's what tees me off,'' said Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, at a Feb. 16 hearing. ``OMB and the department, knowing that you cannot pass a tax, instead build it into the budget and puff up the budget, then dump it on the laps of this committee, and we've got to find a way out of the mess that you've made.''

Damgard said Bush should take a lesson from his father, who as president publicly promised not to raise taxes, and was vilified by some Republicans after agreeing to a tax increase. ``This is a bad idea,'' he said. ``Ask his dad.''

D'oh!(A f... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:


(A fitting reaction...)

Lemmie think...1)P... (Below threshold)

Lemmie think...

5)Peaceful assembly

Do I win? Or do they have to be in order?

I have to confess, I only g... (Below threshold)

I have to confess, I only got 4 out of 5, failing to remember the right to petition redress of grievances. However, I don't know the name of that Simpsons baby either, so I'm 4 out of 5 there too. That must make me the dumbest Ph.D. on the planet. :-)

Eh, most people who should ... (Below threshold)

Eh, most people who should know better get this thing wrong. I always laugh when people mention "the right to freedom of speech" or "the right to freedom of religion" as being enshrined in the First Amendment. I mean, don't these people know that the only right mentioned in the First Amendment is the right to peacably assemble? Morons all of 'em! To make matters worse, some are on the Supreme Court. If only we could teach our judges how to read, federalism might still be around.

Kim - I don't see this as a... (Below threshold)

Kim - I don't see this as a failure of our education system, as I am a product of it, and the only right I would have missed on this question would be petition (I always forget that one). The issue here is just laziness and self-satisfaction/entertainment. People today feel they have "the right" to do whatever they feel like, and with rulings by SCOTUS which say that the right to an abortion, or comparing pro-life protesters to organized crime (see the RICO ruling), and so on, I'm not surprised that some thought the right to own a pet was in there.

You see, "the left" is working so hard to convince Americans tnat the Constitution is a "living, breating document" which means something different than it did before, that they have taken to saying that rights exist now that are protected by the Constitution that didn't exist 20 years ago. I'm sorry, but unless someone took a pen to that piece of paper, then the rights that were protected 200 years old are still the only ones protected.

I wish they'd included in t... (Below threshold)

I wish they'd included in the survey a question about which amendment the right to have an abortion was in, the answers would be highly entertaining.

OH, but didn't you know, by... (Below threshold)

OH, but didn't you know, by the rules of "the left" that doesn't have to be "in the Constitution", you just need a judge to SAY it is.

Thanks, Faith. Now I have ... (Below threshold)

Thanks, Faith. Now I have school house rock in my head. :-)

Just the other day I was trying to remember the tune (and therefore the words) to the one with "pursuit of happiness". Google Declaration of Independance? Who me?

I probably ought to go to Amazon and get the DVD's for my kids. I bought the VCR tape of the math rock songs about the time VCRs were going out. And a noun is a person place or thing... and, but, and or, will get you...

Help? Hehe.

OH, but didn't you know, by... (Below threshold)

OH, but didn't you know, by the rules of "the left" that doesn't have to be "in the Constitution", you just need a judge to SAY it is.
Posted by: The Smoke Eater at March 1, 2006 02:09 PM

Funny how "the right" always says that until a conservative judge rules their way. According to numb nuts like Smoke Eater, "judicial activism" is only a liberal issue.

OK, Pete, an "activist" jud... (Below threshold)

OK, Pete, an "activist" judge is someone who decides to "re-interpret" the law to fit their personal bias, and I KNOW that there are some on the right, but I haven't seen many, and over all, conservative judges have a MUCH better record for saying that "the law says" or "the Constitution says" and STICKING TO THAT!

Honestly, I would have only... (Below threshold)

Honestly, I would have only gotten 4 out of 5. So I don't think it is all too strange that only 1 in a 1000 could name all 5. Petition for redress of grievances got me, and I bet it got those other 999 people as well.

The dumbing down of America... (Below threshold)

The dumbing down of America is now complete.

On a side note, is it any wonder that 53 million people voted for Bush in 04? Hummm.....

**********OH, but di... (Below threshold)

OH, but didn't you know, by the rules of "the left" that doesn't have to be "in the Constitution", you just need a judge to SAY it is.
Posted by: The Smoke Eater at March 1, 2006 02:09 PM

Funny how "the right" always says that until a conservative judge rules their way. According to numb nuts like Smoke Eater, "judicial activism" is only a liberal issue.
Posted by: pete at March 1, 2006 03:05 PM

Isn't it amazing how someone "defending the left" by pointing out that the right has issues too always has to personally attack and villify the person who points out the rampant problems on the left?






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