First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say!

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  • #1
Astronuc
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From AP on Yahoo.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=519&e=4&u=/ap/20050131/ap_on_re_us/students_first_amendment [Broken]

By BEN FELLER, AP Education Writer

WASHINGTON - The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.

It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.

The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

Rather distressing.
 
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  • #2
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Astronuc said:
From AP on Yahoo.

Rather distressing.

Downright disturbing! :mad: I heard about this today on NPR and I thought: W**T**F!!!! It seems that education is taking a backseat and accreditation is a more important priority, which in short means that a brain or the capacity for rational thought is not of value. GREAT! What are they teaching in school now??? Are they being exposed to too much FOX news??? How did they reach that conclusion? Will the constitution lose legitimacy in the futre? Too many questions that cannot be immediately answered! :uhh: :grumpy:
 
  • #3
BobG
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Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.


I have to admit that I'm at a bit of a loss as to which of the ten words addressing free speech they think goes too far or how the amendment might be miscontrued. It might possibly be a disconnect between the general concept of what the 'press' represents, citizens having the right to publish and distribute their opinions publicly, and what it has become - professionals investigating and reporting the news and the evolution of individuals whose soul purpose in life is to tell us how we should feel about current events.

I would think the second amendment would spark more controversy.

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.


You only have one sentence and it's hard not to see the 'keep and bear arms' part as relating to the right of each state to keep their own 'well regulated militia'. That's a far cry from guaranteeing citizens the right to their own personal assault weapons. You could make a better argument that the Second Amendment protects the rights of the Crips to assemble their own armed militia to do battle with the Bloods' armed militia.
 
  • #4
FredGarvin
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It just goes to prove my theory that one in three high school students are complete idiots.

Bob, not to get into a debate, but I do not read the second ammendment the way you do.
 
  • #5
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Back on track lest this become a second amendment thread after two posts...
Speaking as a kid just out of high school I find this pretty sad really and am trying to figure out just how so many kids got so stupid so quickly. I'd also personally want to find the exact wording of the questions these kids were asked: the study probably points in the right direction but I like to double check these things myself.
 
  • #6
Andromeda321 said:
I find this pretty sad really and am trying to figure out just how so many kids got so stupid so quickly.

Apathy is one of our greatest enemies. You can bet that the morons who don't care about free speech have nothing interesting to say, and wouldn't understand an abstract principle to save their lives. Then again, if the US is going to invade Iran you're going to need all the cannon-fodder you can muster, so perhaps best leave them be.
 
  • #7
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Found it!
Here are the more interesting questions for those not really interested in browsing through-

19. Have you ever taken classes in high school that dealt with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?
58% Yes
42 No

Based on your own feelings about the First Amendment, please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following statement: The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.
12% Strongly agree
23 Mildly agree
19 Mildly disagree
25 Strongly disagree
21 Don’t know

I found this interesting:

44. Musicians should be allowed to sing songs with lyrics that others might find offensive.
40% Strongly agree
30 Mildly agree
14 Mildly disagree
7 Strongly disagree
9 Don’t know

Despite this fact...

45. Newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of a story.
24% Strongly agree
27 Mildly agree
22 Mildly disagree
14 Strongly disagree
13 Don’t know

And while that's the view for "normal" newspapers, when the issue hits closer to home...

46. High school students should be allowed to report controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities.
30% Strongly agree
28 Mildly agree
18 Mildly disagree
11 Strongly disagree
13 Don’t know
 
  • #8
Argentum Vulpes
I also herd this story on NPR yesterday, and if this is the general trend we might need another country to invade us in 20 years. I really find this scary since this country is one of the models of democracy in the free world, and we have our future leaders sounding like the gastopo or just not caring this is not a good sing.

Now I will however point out something I would like to know what prompted the part about government cencership, because I can think of some cases where the government has an duty to censor stuff. A case in point was good old Revera leaking a battle plan and location of the military unit he was inbeded with. In cases like that where during combat operations where leaking material like that can get your troops killed I'm all in favor of censoring it.

I'm also in favor of letting the government classify things that pose a threat to national security, just as long as after the threat has passed they declassify it (an example a lot of the cold war stuff is coming to light).
 
  • #9
Moonbear
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There's an awfully high percentage of "I don't know" responses in there too! Actually, I suspect that probably was more like "I dunno." How do you miss learning about the first amendment? I mean, even if you fell asleep halfway through the class on the Bill of Rights, it's the FIRST one!

Having just been participating in the thread on gun control, and reading and re-reading the second amendment, has anyone else noticed it's not a complete sentence? No wonder there's room for different interpretation. But, the First Amendment is pretty specific.
 
  • #10
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Huh? Surveys looking for opinions on a scale of 1-5? Generally come up short --- they fail to include the other three responses which would total well over half the survey sample --- "I really don't give a damn," "This is such a stupid, trivial question it's never occurred to me to even concern myself," and "That's none of your damned business."

High school? "You won't be dismissed for lunch until you've marked a response for every question" provokes "3" or random pattern scratching --- no grade involved, why bother to read the questions.
 
  • #11
Argentum Vulpes said:
In cases like that where during combat operations where leaking material like that can get your troops killed I'm all in favor of censoring it.

Agreed. I'ts hard to think of a reasonable exception to this rule.

Argentum Vulpes said:
I'm also in favor of letting the government classify things that pose a threat to national security, just as long as after the threat has passed they declassify it (an example a lot of the cold war stuff is coming to light).

Hmmm. This is a trickier principle, as it is a lot easier to think of cases where it has been abused e.g. Homeland Security. 9/11 didn't happen because of anything printed in the national press. Stifling public debate and dissenting opinions are not things that promote the cause of freedom. What's going to happen if you hear something you don't like - you'll be forced to throw a tantrum?
 
  • #12
Moonbear
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Bystander said:
Huh? Surveys looking for opinions on a scale of 1-5? Generally come up short --- they fail to include the other three responses which would total well over half the survey sample --- "I really don't give a damn," "This is such a stupid, trivial question it's never occurred to me to even concern myself," and "That's none of your damned business."

High school? "You won't be dismissed for lunch until you've marked a response for every question" provokes "3" or random pattern scratching --- no grade involved, why bother to read the questions.

That's a good point. We know nothing of how the survey was administered. There also didn't appear to be any questions to validate internal consistency of responses (helps identify "random pattern scratching"). For example, you take a positive statement and turn it into a negative statement later and see if the answers come up consistent. Or you ask a few questions where you know there should be a high response in one direction or another, something like "I think we need at least 2 more hours of homework every night" should evoke a stronger disagree than agree response, even among the most studious students. I'm sure there are banks of questions available that have been validated for that purpose in surveys. Even a simple question at the end like, "I read all the questions carefully and gave thoughtful answers" would help identify how many just answered anything to be done as quickly as possible.
 
  • #13
Andromeda made a good observation. The kids seem to take the issue more seriously when it seems to be more directly related to them.
 
  • #14
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polyb said:
Downright disturbing! :mad: I heard about this today on NPR and I thought: W**T**F!!!! It seems that education is taking a backseat and accreditation is a more important priority, which in short means that a brain or the capacity for rational thought is not of value. GREAT! What are they teaching in school now??? Are they being exposed to too much FOX news??? How did they reach that conclusion? Will the constitution lose legitimacy in the futre? Too many questions that cannot be immediately answered! :uhh: :grumpy:


Face it people are idiots. The sooner you stop being shocked by this, the sooner you can move on to suffering because of it.
 
  • #15
loseyourname
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the number 42 said:
Hmmm. This is a trickier principle, as it is a lot easier to think of cases where it has been abused e.g. Homeland Security. 9/11 didn't happen because of anything printed in the national press. Stifling public debate and dissenting opinions are not things that promote the cause of freedom. What's going to happen if you hear something you don't like - you'll be forced to throw a tantrum?

I don't think that's what he meant. I read it as the classification of certain pieces of information. It is facts that he is advocating the censoring of in national security cases, not opinions.
 
  • #16
Argentum Vulpes: "I'm also in favor of letting the government classify things that pose a threat to national security".

loseyourname said:
I read it as the classification of certain pieces of information. It is facts that he is advocating the censoring of in national security cases, not opinions.

I do take your point. In cases where national security is at risk, censorship is necessary. This is fine if you trust your goverment to:
1/ Not use 'classification of info in the interests of national security' as a smokescreen for going to war and depriving the nation of fundamental freedoms.
2/ Take action without pressure from the public where there is a real threat.

I am for a free and open society, and neither Bush nor Blair can be trusted any longer to deliver this. The biggest threats by far to national security are for countries like Iran and the others on the Bush administration hit list, and for the US in the case of any retaliation.
 
  • #17
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Moonbear said:
the second amendment, has anyone else noticed it's not a complete sentence?
Here is a rewording that might help:

Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.


Removing two commas from the original helps it read like that:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
 
  • #18
russ_watters
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hitssquad said:
Here is a rewording that might help:

Because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.


Removing two commas from the original helps it read like that:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
But is that really what was intended? It still makes it sound like a contradiction: "well regulated" but "shall not be infringed"?
 
  • #19
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russ_watters said:
But is that really what was intended? It still makes it sound like a contradiction: "well regulated" but "shall not be infringed"?

The wording of that is really bugging me, and the thing is that I'm sure anything in the wording is intentional and carefully considered. The Bill of Rights is one document that I'm confident the writers took time to write correctly.

Another way to look at it is that having militias made up of citizens prevents any government from turning into a dictatorship with an army made up only of supporters of that government. In order to stay free from a dictatorship (the founding fathers were themselves very mistrustful of a strong government), no citizen should be prevented from taking up arms and joining a militia. It serves two purposes. It provides for a volunteer army to protect against foreign invasion, and it protects the citizens from a dictatorship that uses a hand-selected, elite army to attack the country's own citizens in order to maintain power.

This is the most important aspect of the formation of US government, that the government never really was supposed to have all that much power. The entire Bill of Rights was constructed to protect the citizens from too much government control. The founding father's didn't want us to have a strong government, they wanted a minimal government that was able to do just enough to deal with the most important issues, and nothing more. For those who complain about the inefficiency of government, that was done on purpose. Congress is supposed to squabble and fight and the President is supposed to veto, because by making it inefficient and full of disagreement, it means only those few really important things that everyone agrees are necessary get turned into law. Anyway, now I'm heading into a whole different topic, so I'll drop that issue for now as it becomes too much of a digression from this thread. The Second Amendment is already a digression from the First Amendment, but at least I'm trying to stick with the Bill of Rights.
 
  • #20
loseyourname
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russ_watters said:
But is that really what was intended? It still makes it sound like a contradiction: "well regulated" but "shall not be infringed"?

I really get the feeling that the intention was that ordinary citizens should be allowed to own and be trained in the use of firearms, in case it should ever be necessary to organize them into militias and deploy quickly without having to go through all the trouble of obtaining weapons and be trained in their usage. It's much like the old Athenian military system, except in this case the citizen-militias would not necessarily serve the government.
 
  • #21
FredGarvin
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loseyourname said:
I really get the feeling that the intention was that ordinary citizens should be allowed to own and be trained in the use of firearms, in case it should ever be necessary to organize them into militias and deploy quickly without having to go through all the trouble of obtaining weapons and be trained in their usage.

I agree with what you have said. I think all that I have seen and read regarding the revolutionary war had the militiamen grabbing their weapon that they used for hunting and whatnot from over their fireplace and going to war with it. Warfare in that day did not seem to have too many variations as far as weaponry. If you were infantry, you stood in a line and shot at the line of guys 30 feet in front of you. It seems to make sense in my mind that if everyone had their own firearm that that was at least one less thing the government would need to worry about.
 
  • #22
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The problem with the second amendment is that its been so long since we've had a war on our own soil that the militia concept looks mostly outmoded and unnecessary, especially with the creation of a sstanding professional army.

As i've said before, the american revolution and its spirit are long dead in this country. the majorit of the crap that washington does would have the constitution's framers (except hamilton maybe, but at least he was a genius, and in no small part responsible for ensuring the nation's survival in the early years) rolling over in their graves, screaming in pain.
 

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