Saturday, April 15, 2006

If You Don't Know What Your Rights Are...

then you don't have any.

A 1987 survey found that 45 percent of adult respondents believed that Karl Marx’s communist principle “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” was in the U.S. Constitution.

The recent poll found that 36 percent of Americans believe the right to a public education is guaranteed by the First Amendment. This widespread notion vivifies the failure of public schools. More years in government schools have done little or nothing to help citizens understand the limits on government power codified by the
Founding Fathers. Politically controlled education cannot be trusted to enlighten people on the perils of political power.

The McCormick Foundation warned, “The less Americans know about freedoms, the more they are likely to erode without our notice.” But it is not a question of freedoms’ eroding: it is a question of their being plowed under at a high rate of speed.

From the proliferation of free speech zones (quarantining anyone who protests against the president’s policies), to the assertion by Justice Department lawyers that the president is above the law (regarding interrogation methods), to the nullification of limits on government searches (the warrantless National Security Agency wiretaps), individual rights are becoming an endangered species. But few Americans recognize the rising danger.

“the Constitution ... is the people’s charter of the powers granted those who govern them.” The Bill of Rights recognized the pre-existing rights of American citizens – it did not bestow those rights on a conquered populace.


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