The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution contains just 45 words and, since 1789, has guaranteed five fundamental rights to generations of Americans.
They are the freedoms of:
In the 2014 State of the First Amendment survey, 29 percent of the respondents could not name a single freedom.
On a positive note, the result is a 7-point drop from the 2013 survey, in which 36 percent could not name a single freedom.
Still, it sounds incredible that nearly one-third of respondents couldn’t name a single freedom.
In reality, though, it’s no surprise; some U.S. public schools give curriculum preference to the teachings of ancient China over American history and civics.
The survey was conducted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University. Newseum has been doing the adult survey for years.
The most telling revelation is that all the respondents are U.S. citizens who should know better.
In order to become U.S. citizens, immigrants must pass a federal test in which they are asked to name the five First Amendment rights.
A large minority of Americans, however, take their First Amendment freedoms for granted, the survey shows.
For the record, when asked to name the five specific freedoms, 68 percent of Americans named freedom of speech; 29 percent named freedom of religion; 14 percent mentioned the freedom of the press; 7 percent said the right to assemble; and 1 percent said the right to petition.
It’s interesting to note that those who could name the freedoms of speech and religion increased 8 points and five points, respectively, from the 2013 survey results.
On the other hand, the knowledge of the right to petition and right of assembly decreased 3 points and 4 points, respectively.
Yet no matter how one might interpret the aforementioned results, here’s the real disappointing kicker of the 2014 survey:
A growing minority of Americans -- 38 percent -- said the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. That’s an increase of four points from the 2013 survey, and it represents a chilling statement.
There are people living in oppression in dozens of countries around the world, being slaughtered for speaking out against tyrannical regimes and beheaded for refusing to convert to an extremist religion mandated by fanatical "holy" men.
What they would give for an hour of protection from the First Amendment!
The First Amendment remains the cornerstone of our Constitution and our rights. Every U.S. citizen should value the five freedoms and revere the power they give us to enjoy life in the greatest country on earth.