Our View: Survey reveals ignorance


According to the annual State of the First Amendment survey conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut, almost half (49 percent) of the 1,000 respondents surveyed said the First Amendment goes too far with the rights it guarantees. Nearly a 10-percentage point jump from 2001.

"The stakes have risen for the First Amendment in the wake of September 11," said Ken Paulson, executive director of the First Amendment Center, in an Aug. 29 release on freedomforum.org. "The results of our 2002 survey suggest that many Americans view these fundamental freedoms as possible obstacles in the war on terrorism."

Among the results were additional findings, including two particularly shocking ones:

About half said the government should be able to monitor religious groups in the interest of national security, even if the monitoring infringes upon religious freedom.

Also, more than four in 10 said the government should have greater power to monitor the activities of Muslims over other religious groups.

Lastly, the real slap in the face is that only 18 percent of those surveyed could even identify the freedom of religion as a tenet of the First Amendment.

Have we not learned anything?

If we are fighting to preserve the American way, what purpose does First Amendment infringement like this serve? If anything, this proves just how much ground the terrorists gained, despite repeated attempts to resume our way of life.

We were told time and again: do not base the judgment of an entire people on the maniacal actions of a warring few. We have failed in that regard.

We suggest readers unfamiliar with the First Amendment look to the top of the page, because this state of affairs is unacceptable.


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