Thursday, July 7, 2016

Nation Is Doomed When 39% Don’t Know What the First Amendment Means

It may be a worthless pursuit, but I need to vent here and question a most disturbing poll result.  No, I’m not wondering why Clinton-Trump polls show a close race nor am I going to comment on polls about the favorite foods, clothes, or gadgets of consumers, but I must wonder aloud how it is possible that so many Americans are clueless about the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Add it to the long list of what’s wrong with this country – which still pales to what is great about it – but our citizenry needs a quick lesson here.  According to a recently released poll of 1006 adults that was conducted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, in partnership with USA Today, four in ten adult Americans could not name a single freedom listed in the First Amendment.

That’s right, 39% of our population has no clue the 1st Amendment protects freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of the right to petition the government, and of religion.  Just what do we teach in school if so many people remain clueless on their basic rights?  Mass media has constantly covered this in various news articles, books, movies, ad campaigns, political speeches, and theater, so what is it that people don’t understand or recall about this?  Even immigrants seeking citizenship know this stuff – otherwise they couldn’t pass their test!

In fairness, I would imagine that many of the 39% know about the free speech concept but perhaps they didn’t know it was specifically covered under the First Amendment, but I just can’t envision how our society is to move forward unless everyone has an understanding on basic things like this.

I can only conclude that we are doomed.  Too many people are just ignorant about the principles, values, and history of our nation that it puts a burden on those who are in the know.  One can’t be active under a system it knows so little about.  We need more people to contribute to the public discussion of issues and ideas but if tens of millions of people remain clueless of the news, history or even of basic freedoms and rights we become a country that’s held hostage by the dumb, the narrow-minded, the uninvolved.

Our economy and our culture can’t survive when we have so many people failing to pull their weight.  These things may go hand-in-hand -- uneducated and underemployed.  This produces people who don’t contribute, but take. Instead of paying taxes, they suck up benefits instead of being a part of the solution, they are a cause of the problem.

The people who don’t know anything about the First Amendment probably overlap with those that fall into other designations – school dropouts, illiterate, poor, and are less involved in civic duties. 

We should have a few requirements to become and remain a citizen, and one of them should be to pass a knowledge competency test every five or ten years.  If you don’t know what the First Amendment even means, get out of the country.

This is not meant to be mean-spirited or some diatribe that supports a lunatic like Trump, but I have to say that we can’t have a country that is based on a foundation of idiocy.  Not everyone has to quote Ben Franklin or know everything about many things, but if our people don’t even know about the First Amendment, what else don’t they know, and as a result, how helpless are these non-contributors that the burden of running a nation is forced onto fewer people, creating a crushing weight?

Today’s generation has a lot it needs to know and it can be forgiven if some people don’t know all the facts of our history, but once we condone and accept people not knowing what the First Amendment means we will permit the collapse of our country, and to accelerate to the inevitable fate it dooms itself to.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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