Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Study uncovers a “no duh” moment

Quick, name all 5 leading characters on the “The Simpsons” animated TV show. Could you do it?

OK, now name all 5 freedoms addressed in the First Amendment to the US Constitution. How about that one?

Don’t feel bad if you got Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie but could only say “freedom of speech” or “freedom of religion” regarding the First Amendment. You’re in good company. More than half of those surveyed could name at least 2 of the characters from the TV show but only 25% could actually name more than 1 of the freedoms mentioned in the 1st Amendment. The numbers for people who could successfully answer all 5 items of these 2 questions is even more abyssmal: 22% could name all 5 Simpsons; 1 in 1000 could name all 5 freedoms. This story by the AP paints this as both a shame (it is) and a surprise (to whom?)

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.

Joe Madeira, director of exhibitions at the museum, said he was surprised by the results.

"Part of the survey really shows there are misconceptions, and part of our mission is to clear up these misconceptions," said Madeira, whose museum will be dedicated to helping visitors understand the First Amendment when it opens in April. "It means we have our job cut out for us..."

So, Mr. Madeira is surprised that Americans treated to a weekly show now running its 17th season would better know the names of 5 characters than would know the language of a historical document taught to them in an elementary school civics class, possibly decades ago, and only given air time in PBS documentaries scattered across the TV schedule? No offense but what planet has he been living on? The Simpsons, as well as all the marketing schtick mentioned later in the article, are designed to be easily remembered and get blasted to Americans in entertaining technicolor. A good chunk of the Left in this country’s political spectrum is actively trying to make sure Americans forget all about the Constitution’s freedom of speech and religion by trying to shout down opposing viewpoint and removing the merest mention of religion from any public view or discourse. If more people understood that their right to practice their religion cannot be legally opposed then they might start wondering why all this effort is being made - and allowed - to suppress their actions.

But, seriously, is it any surprise that people don’t know this, given the lack of commitment to teaching it in our schools? Honestly?