Friday, September 24, 2004

First Amendment, Anyone?

A clipping turned up in my files, about a poll taken in 1988. One question asked: Should the Constitution be amended to say there shall be no law abridging freedom of speech and press? 41 percent said yes…30 percent said no…7 percent had no opinion…and only 22 percent said it was already in the Constitution -- the First Amendment.

Now, polls are of course wildly misleading. But it’s got to mean something that a random survey by telephone would reveal such a level of ignorance, or that fully 30 percent would say they didn’t even want our freedom to be guaranteed.

There is the core base of the Bush vote. They never were a majority, and there is no reason to assume that many of them couldn’t be brought to see the light -- but clearly, our press has not been doing its job.
Look at how it responded to Bush’s performance yesterday, with an Iraqi warlord in tow: Bush’s usual disjointed string of untruths -- unresponsive to the questions asked, in language that doesn’t parse. Sadly, Kerry’s reply did not disagree in any material way. And as for civil rights, Democrats helped to draft and pass the rollback now taking place.

Well, we’ve lived through worse, and survived -- even, now and then, come out ahead. Newcomers keep joining the ranks of the freedom riders. Welcome, and have a brave weekend.