FURTHER EVIDENCE THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE TO PASS A TEST TO BECOME A CITIZEN, EVEN IF YOU WERE BORN HERE
Apparently, American high school students are too busy buying drugs and watching The O.C. to even understand their basic rights, which is both frightening and disturbing, especially since they are the ones who will probably be on the front lines should President Bush's long-term plan to take out the Axis of Evil come to fruition.
A study conducted last spring for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation by the University of Connecticut found that nearly one-third of US high school students favor restrictions on the press. And 36% believe that news organizations should receive government clearance before running stories (this from the story I read at Insight.com).
Among its findings:
• Nearly three-fourths of high school students either do not know how they feel about the First Amendment or admit they take it for granted.
• Seventy-five percent erroneously think flag burning is illegal.
• Half believe the government can censor the Internet.
• More than a third think the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.
Principals and teachers were also surveyed. (Scary, no?)
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Director Hodding Carter III (you may recall him from the Jimmy Carter Administration), described these results as "dangerous."
One thing that both conservatives and liberals can generally agree on is that you lose freedom if you don't use it. That's why Carter III is correct when he describes these results as "dangerous." Between parents and faculty, the result is that three-quarters of American high schoolers believe that flag-burning is illegal. Now, they're welcome to believe it's wrong, but a lot of things that are wrong are still legal. (For instance, property tax.)
These results are understandable, however, in the Big Lie mentality that drives political life today. The current administration seems to make a habit of repeating the same untruth until it becomes "common knowledge." That's why so many Americans believe al Qaeda was in cahoots with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. That was the purpose of the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the USS Lincoln behind President Bush. Heck, that's the purpose of all political spin, on both sides of the aisle.
(Oh, and does anybody remember who invented the Big Lie?)
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation intends these results to be used to increase the number of high school classrooms that include journalism (or "communications") in their curriculum. Understanding journalism is certainly a useful thing. I know a fellow who freelances for CNN and who teaches at Pacific Lutheran University. He is active in the business today, and he tells me that the trend these days (besides hiring airheads in blonde wigs to read the news) is reporting from a specific point of view. That is so wrong I won't even joke about it. It's one thing to do some investigative journalism; it's another to craft stories so that they reflect political opinion. And yet, there's Fox News, the alleged "balance" to "liberal" news.
How to put this in analogy, for those of you who don't understand what journalism should be? How about reporting on a fire? An objective reporter finds out where it was, what kind of structure it was, whether the structure was occupied by people, whether they were injured or killed, whether it was suspicious. An investigative journalist might ask if the fire department got there on time, had the proper equipment, or used the correct techniques. One of these Fox News types would blame it on Ted Kennedy.
Years ago, tests to determine suitability to vote were thrown out because racist scumbuckets in the South skewed them to keep blacks from voting. I now believe that was a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Our Constitution needs to be revised so that rights are not conferred on a person simply for being lucky enough to have been born in the United States. I contend that citizenship for people born in this country should only be made final upon completion of the same test we give foreigners applying for citizenship. If some high school dropout is home watching American Idol and telephoning her girlfriend to discuss what color to paint her fingernails, perhaps this is not the type of person who should be voting for president, especially if she doesn't know the difference between the Bill of Rights and the Articles of Confederation.
If that's not practical, how about at least requiring a high school diploma before you can register to vote? (Or drive, but that's another rant.) The problem with that is you would also need to have a high school diploma that means something, and there are so many opponents to that one final high school test (whatever it's called in your district) -- including my spouse -- that the distinction would be meaningless.
But, really, is it wrong to forbid anyone to vote if he or she doesn't know why we had to remember the Maine? Or who Lewis & Clark were? Or why Teddy Roosevelt wanted to bust the trusts (and what a trust is, anyway)? Sadly, I fear that the Bobby Hill character on King of the Hill isn't the only creature on this continent who believes that Jed Bartlet is a real president.
Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the government can censor the Internet. In which case, after he's confirmed later today, Michael Chertoff can just press a button and delete this.