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Welcome to the Machine

By FFFish in Culture
Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:34:06 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Name any one of the freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment.

If you can't, don't worry. More than a third of Americans aren't aware that speech, press, religion, assembly and petition of grievances aren't protected First Amendment freedoms.

Freedom in America? Don't bet on it: your neighbours wouldn't approve. There are some signs that the public doesn't want its rights...


Didn't know about the First Amendment freedoms? Don't worry: you'd be a pretty typical American if, in addition to being First Amendment ignorant, you also figure the press has too much freedom, that some kooky religions should be banned, and that rallies and public speech should be limited.

As posted on Prorev:

A new survey shows that 37% of Americans can't name a single freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment and that a majority think the press has "too much freedom." The survey, released late last month by the First Amendment Center, revealed that significant numbers of Americans say they are willing to allow the government to control, restrict, or ban material that some find offensive:

* 51% said the press in America has "too much freedom to do what it wants."

* 20% think the government should be allowed to approve what newspapers publish.

* 36% would support a law that banned "public remarks offensive to racial groups."

* 54% said the government should rate entertainment programs shown on TV.

* 20% said freedom of religion "was never meant to apply to religious groups that the majority consider extreme or fringe."

* 31% said a group should not be able to hold a rally if its cause is "offensive" to some in the community.

* 58% think the government should restrict sexually explicit Internet content.

* 37% could not name even one of the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment -- the freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.

Oh, isn't life in the USA going to be wonderful as the government takes advantage of its citizens' willingness to give their freedom away!

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Welcome to the Machine | 68 comments (44 topical, 24 editorial, 0 hidden)
hmph (2.00 / 1) (#4)
by madams on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 08:46:10 PM EST

It doesn't come as a surprise that some members of the community are willing to forgo on some of their freedoms in order to maintain a percieved sense of security.

I find it a shame that some Americans are unaware of their basic rights as citizens, but this has always been the case. It's not the end of the world just because some of us happen to be ignorant!

The banning of hate speech (which would include "public remarks offensive to racial groups") is an important issue in America. Although many other countries do have bans on hate speech, I am always weary of such measures, no matter how good the benefits may seem.

--
Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

Read 'em their riots, Danno (3.00 / 1) (#8)
by Maclir on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 09:29:20 PM EST

Why does this not surprise me? Despite the high degree of insularity within the US culture, many people in the USA do not understand the real history behind the European colonisation of North America, real events that lead to the War of Independance (unlike the Hollywood "Patriot" distortion), and why certain "rights" were enshrined in the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The only "right" most people (mis)understand is "the right to bear arms".

Despite all that - how does this article relate to "Techology and Culture"?

Ken

Nice numbers... (3.66 / 3) (#9)
by GandalfGreyhame on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 10:10:14 PM EST

I can pull numbers out of the air too ;) But what's your point of bring those numerous numbers into play? Do you want us to debate the truth of them? Do you want us to all nod our heads saying "yeah, america sucks". So, WHY should we care about the numbers?

Not _all_ bad (2.00 / 1) (#11)
by ODiV on Mon Jul 24, 2000 at 11:23:17 PM EST

* 54% said the government should rate entertainment programs shown on TV.

What's so bad about that? It happens here in Canada afaik. There's a little symbol that shows up in the corner of the show when it starts. And I'm pretty sure Canada isn't as restrictive as the states when it comes to questionable content (eg: nudity and foul language).

* 58% think the government should restrict sexually explicit Internet content.

This depends on your definition of 'restrict'. I could name a couple of 'restrictions' that would be perfectly reasonable. Many communities have laws in place which restrict the purchase of hardcopy adult content. Why should it be any different online? As a note of interest, my city doesn't have one of these laws last time I checked (shop-keepers probably will not sell them to children anyway, though.). I don't know how the government (I guess the american one... they are the entire Internet aren't they? (/sarcasm) ) would restrict this kind of thing, but that's a different argument.

An editorial comment (sorry for mixing em): How about you do a little more writing yourself? Annectodal evidence of this would provide a nice touch. The stats need some writing to flesh them out IMHO... not that I'm any sort of expert.

--
[ odiv.net ]
Re: Not _all_ bad (none / 0) (#17)
by aphrael on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 03:04:06 PM EST

Many communities have laws in place which restrict the purchase of hardcopy adult content. Why should it be any different online?

Enforceability and jurisdiction. There's currently a case going on against e-bay, which is located in *California*, for selling things which are illegal under French law. France demands that e-bay stop; e-bay says "Why? We're located in California".

Unless there is some sort of international agency which governs online activity, this type of problem is *inevitable*.

[ Parent ]

Re: Not _all_ bad (none / 0) (#77)
by reshippie on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 03:05:49 PM EST

I can't resist making a comment, but promise to restrain my rant.

France wants to impose its laws in California, the ETOYS vs. ETOY court hearings were held in the US, depsite the fact that Etoy is located in Europe(I forget where).

Why is it that every country that is on the internet feels a responsibility to impose it's laws there. I know that they want to be able to enforce their laws at home, but there just isn't a way to do it right now. Not without seriously invading people's privacy.

Just occurred to me that I'm totally off topic, but hey, it's written, it's a discussion group, you haven't lost much by reading my rantings.

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)
[ Parent ]

Let me shed some light on the porn bit. (none / 0) (#36)
by bkosse on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 11:52:40 PM EST

I have no small amount of knowledge about that industry, knowing several people personally who work in it.

I could name a couple of 'restrictions' that would be perfectly reasonable.
Like what? Give me one restriction I can't twist into being more encompassing than you intended it to be.

Many communities have laws in place which restrict the purchase of hardcopy adult content. Why should it be any different online?
Because the whole reason communities in the U.S. are "legally allowed" (marked in quotes because it's a bogus line of reasoning) to restrict adult content is because it supposidly increases other crimes such as prostitution, drunk driving, theft, assult, battery, etc; and decreases property values. This is not true of internet sites which do totally anonymous business from an individual's house.

Now, the rationale the Supreme Court used was bogus. By their very reasoning, cities should be unable to grow in population density, because statistically speaking, population density is the single largest contributor to all of the above crimes.

I can go off on this topic for hours, it's so rediculous. A club opened up in Idaho. The only crimes committed on the premesis were 2 assults, both involving people wandering over from the bar next door who never even made it to the door, much less inside (the bar next door has 2 assults nightly at least); several illegal trespasses committed by protesters (they continued to go on to the private property of the club rather than stay on public grounds); and 1 arson, committed by someone claiming that the strip club would increase crime.... Yeah, it did. All of it coming from the "upstanding moral citizens." Oh, and property values in that city are higher than any other time, attributeable almost entirely to that club.

As a note of interest, my city doesn't have one of these laws last time I checked (shop-keepers probably will not sell them to children anyway, though.). I don't know how the government I bet there is a province/national law of some sort. Also, there are laws against "obscene" material being imported into Canada.
-- Ben Kosse
[ Parent ]

I have a question (OT) (none / 0) (#41)
by static on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:50:11 AM EST

I can go off on this topic for hours, it's so rediculous.

Isn't that spelt ridiculous?

Wade, who is not trying to be sarcastic or insulting in any way shape of form.

[ Parent ]

So... (2.50 / 2) (#16)
by ryry on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 02:53:37 PM EST

...we're going to hell in a capitalist-driven handbasket, right? Whoopie, I care not! You're preaching to the middle class, buddy, and most of us are too comfortably situated in the US to give a damn about anything that doesn't impinge upon our right to start up an Internet company and get bought out by some huge company. Not that I necessarily feel this way, but I think it's a waste of time for figures such as these (see next paragraph) to be quoted up and down the line as the gospel.

On another note, it'd be interesting to see how Prorev conducted their study. I am going to choose to ignore their figures since their study has a decidedly large bias, seeing as how the site is called "The Progressive Review" after all and has a largely political slant ... I wanna see t-scores, confidence intervals, and all of those wonderful items you learn about in stats class ;-)

And who cares how many people think the government should rate TV? Go ahead! I defy them to make me pay attention to the damn little letters anyways! ;-)

Here comes my -1



-ryry
--too lazy for a .sig--
Re: So... (none / 0) (#57)
by gnulizard on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:01:51 AM EST

Government imposed rating systems are unconstitutional, according to the supreme court. It's what constitutional lawyers like to call the "chilling effect." Such ratings systems could (and do) cause people to limit their speech, out of fear for getting a bad rating. This is why the motion picture industry rates films (not the government) and why there are no laws, except in cases of pornography, relating to those ratings.

It could also be a case of prior restraint, since your speech (tv program, movie, whatever) would have to be reviewed and rated prior to distribution, and could possibly be censored completely.

Of course, the government can still use non-legislative means to pressure various industries to impose ratings systems, such as they have with television. A carefully crafted PR campaign by the administration and congress essentially forced the television industry to use ratings, but in the end it was the industry's decision and is legal.


local $_ = "0A72656B636148206C72655020726568746F6E41207473754A";
while(s/..$//) { print chr(hex($&)) }

[ Parent ]
More evidence to confirm my theory (4.18 / 11) (#18)
by Rand Race on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 03:09:48 PM EST

I have this theory, that the youth movements in the sixties terrified the establishment so much that they have destroyed the american education system in order to make sure a generation of intellectuals never rises again.

Instead of intellectuals we get: 31% said a group should not be able to hold a rally if its cause is "offensive" to some in the community.

31% of the population is to moronic and self centered to realize that any cause will be 'offensive' to somebody.

It makes me so damned angry and frustrated it's not even funny.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

Re: More evidence to confirm my theory (2.66 / 3) (#25)
by bsletten on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 04:17:55 PM EST

> 31% of the population is to moronic

As what is to what?

[ Parent ]
Re: More evidence to confirm my theory (none / 0) (#76)
by reshippie on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 02:44:29 PM EST

I think bsletten meant:
31% of the population is TOO moronic.

Yeah some people don't proofread, doesn't mean you can't think for a second and figure out what was meant. You should be doing that anyway. Or else your just flaimbait.

And I bit. :)

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)
[ Parent ]

Hippies = Intellectuals??? (none / 0) (#78)
by Commienst on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:11:34 AM EST

"I have this theory, that the youth movements in the sixties terrified the establishment so much that they have destroyed the american education system in order to make sure a generation of intellectuals never rises again."

Most of the young people doing protesting in the 60's could have cared less about any cause they were supposedly fighting for. They just wanted to fit into a group and being a hippy it was easy to be accepted by other hippies. Back then protesting and such became a fad, the thing to do. People do a lot just to fit it, and it will continue to be that way.

The reason why our school system has failed is because no changes are being made to improve education. For example right now the changes most Americans want applied to education are more school days each year and increased funding for schools. Throwing money at schools will not fix the problem. We spend $8000 a year on to educate each student; many times than other countries with better education systems than ours spend. The problem is the quality of our education. Education is not sabotaged by the establishment but by inefficency.

[ Parent ]

Hehe (1.00 / 1) (#22)
by Neuromancer on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 03:57:50 PM EST

I guess that they aren't.

People are stupid. I think that I already said that today. I've had people tell me things that you wouldn't believe, people who think that they are smart, and that the people around them are as well. There are smart people out there, but most of us today, we have our heads jammed way up our asses.

Is this supposed to be a surprise? (3.00 / 1) (#26)
by h0tr0d on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 06:23:51 PM EST

I think Jay Leno did this unscientifically a few years back an discovered the exact same thing. I believe that this article ties in really well with the discussion about the war on drugs. Because the two are intrinsically related. It it this lack of knowledge about our own rights that allows the government to continue stupid things like the war on drugs. It is also this stupidity that is allowing the government to very slowly attampt to turn this once great country into a repressed socialist, maybe even communist republic. Oh what a shame that our ignorance and stupidity have let this happen. What's worse is that things will only get worse. The younger generations know even less about their rights and have even less respect for them. Many people need to be reminded that in order to remain a free country it is our responsiblility to know what our rights are and ensure that they are adhered to. Not knowing what rights you have as a citizen of the United States (or any country, for that matter) marks you as a perfect target for the government. So easy to persuade that you don't need those rights, I mean you didn't know that you had them anyway, so they won't be missed if we take them away.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.

Re: Is this supposed to be a surprise? (5.00 / 2) (#59)
by bmattern on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:53:48 AM EST

I definately find it amusing that some people still equate lack of freedom with socialism and communism. Both of which are economic systems, and ideals. There can exist a society that totally upholds values of freedom and democracy and at the same time advocates social economics. I guess it's not your fault. We've been taught since birth that communism is an undeniable evil and so is it's lesser cousin socialism. But whatever, even if you hate the ideas of social economics, and love our current state of big business ruling our nation, DON'T use the terms to define a society with no freedom.

[ Parent ]
Re: Is this supposed to be a surprise? (2.00 / 1) (#72)
by Mintaka on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 01:10:41 AM EST

I find it highly offensive that you equate repressive with socialist automatically. I am a socialist and I believe more strongly than most Americans, it would seem, in the right to free speech and free religion. What I have found personally is that when it comes to free speech and free religion, what poses the most threat in this country is the ultraconservative nutballs (the guys that're pulling George W. Bush's puppet strings) that want to invade your homes, tell you how you can and can't have sex, tell you which god you get to worship, tell you that you're going to Hell for doing [ x ] and it shouldn't be legal since the Bible says it's immoral (when half the time they're not even bothering to read the Bible passages they're quoting and understand them, let alone understand the fact that "freedom of religion" means not everyone has to obey the same moral code they do).

This is what I fear. I welcome socialism in its pure honest form. Oppression isn't a socialist theme; it's an authoritarian theme, and these religious far-righters are about as totalitarian-sounding as you can find in this country.

--Mintaka Mephit

[ Parent ]
The actual study, firsthand (1.00 / 1) (#28)
by bobsquatch on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 08:00:14 PM EST

Since my post last night seems to have gone to /dev/null, I'll try again. (Silly spammers, K5 is for kids!)

The Prorev article is quoting a Libertarian Party press release. That press release was based on a study by the First Amendment Center.

The full text of the survey script can be found starting on page 17 of the PDF file. A discussion of the methodology follows in the next chapter.

<rant>

I might go so far as to suggest that the people complaining about "dubious statistics" and "pulling numbers out of the air" should actually read the report before slamming the methodology. I've got nothing against informed criticism of a survey, but it pisses me off to no end to hear people assume any form of statistics is automatically false or misleading. Hell, guys, I can lie effectively using English words instead of Arabic numerals; and yet nobody on K5 has yet claimed that anything in English words is automatically suspect.

Read the thing, then slam their numbers if you think it's justified. Give specific reasons. Otherwise, stop blathering.

</rant>

The actual study, firsthand (2.00 / 2) (#29)
by bobsquatch on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 08:00:15 PM EST

Since my post last night seems to have gone to /dev/null, I'll try again. (Silly spammers, K5 is for kids!)

The Prorev article is quoting a Libertarian Party press release. That press release was based on a study by the First Amendment Center.

The full text of the survey script can be found starting on page 17 of the PDF file. A discussion of the methodology follows in the next chapter.

<rant>

I might go so far as to suggest that the people complaining about "dubious statistics" and "pulling numbers out of the air" should actually read the report before slamming the methodology. I've got nothing against informed criticism of a survey, but it pisses me off to no end to hear people assume any form of statistics is automatically false or misleading. Hell, guys, I can lie effectively using English words instead of Arabic numerals; and yet nobody on K5 has yet claimed that anything in English words is automatically suspect.

Read the thing, then slam their numbers if you think it's justified. Give specific reasons. Otherwise, stop blathering.

</rant>

The actual study, firsthand (w/ links!) (3.88 / 9) (#30)
by bobsquatch on Tue Jul 25, 2000 at 08:04:52 PM EST

Since my post last night seems to have gone to /dev/null, I'll try again. (Silly spammers, K5 is for kids!)

The Prorev article is quoting a Libertarian Party press release. That press release was based on a study by the First Amendment Center.

The full text of the survey script can be found starting on page 17 of the PDF file. A discussion of the methodology follows in the next chapter.

<rant>

I might go so far as to suggest that the people complaining about "dubious statistics" and "pulling numbers out of the air" should actually read the report before slamming the methodology. I've got nothing against informed criticism of a survey, but it pisses me off to no end to hear people assume any form of statistics is automatically false or misleading. Hell, guys, I can lie effectively using English words instead of Arabic numerals; and yet nobody on K5 has yet claimed that anything in English words is automatically suspect.

Read the thing, then slam their numbers if you think it's justified. Give specific reasons. Otherwise, stop blathering.

</rant>

Now, that's actually interesting .... (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by forrest on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:18:19 AM EST

Now, why couldn't the original poster give this background? It makes the story much more substantial.

Instead, when skepticism over the statistics, which are only presented as coming from a site which has a strong interest in a presenting a particular point of view, he accuses us of having our heads in the sand.

Since it's a proven fact that 82% of those people who don't show skepticism over unsubstatiated statistics are ugly and their respective mothers dress them funny, I think we can draw our own conclusions about the appropriateness of such a response.

The report has some interesting facts. Responses are compared with ones from 1997 and 1999, and while some of the statistics paint a bleak picture, others are encouraging. In 1997, 49% of respondents identified "freedom of speech" as a First Amendment right. In 1999, it was 44%. In the 2000 survey, 60% identified freedom of speech as a First Amendment right.. That's a huge jump!

About the "freedom of the press", when I look at the questions which were asked, I can think of an important restriction that should be placed on the press -- they need to tell the truth.

With the rise of tabloid journalism, I think that many Americans are rightly upset about the lack of accountabiliy the press has for the accuracy of what they report. Is that a limit on the "freedom of the press"? Don't split syntactic hairs about this -- it was a phone survey. The response is very well justified in my mind.

So, do I vote for this (since the original souces have changed this tired polemic into an interesting topic for me -- thanks, bobsquatch) or do I make the original poster rewrite it? I think I'll opt for the latter, because I don't care to be called an ostrich, and I think Mr. FFFish has a bit of thinking to do.



[ Parent ]

nitpicky self-correction (none / 0) (#40)
by forrest on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:49:03 AM EST

I meant "Don't split semantic hairs about this"

I do know the difference between syntax and semantics, it was late, ok? Sorry to clutter the discussion, but I didn't want some pedant to correct me and make me look stupid.



[ Parent ]

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics (4.50 / 10) (#39)
by Carnage4Life on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:34:21 AM EST

Damn. Why is it that people post a list of statistics and feel that that constitutes an argument or a debate. According to your statistics we are actually in very good shape

These are the same statistics you posted with a positive slant.

* 49% said the press in America "does not have enough freedom to do what it wants."

* 80% do not think that the government should be allowed to approve what newspapers publish.

* 64% would not support a law that bans "public remarks offensive to racial groups."

* 46% said the government should not rate entertainment programs shown on TV.

* 80% said freedom of religion "was always meant to apply to religious groups that the majority consider extreme or fringe."

* 69% said a group should be allowed to hold a rally even if its cause is "offensive" to some in the community.

* 42% think the government should not restrict sexually explicit Internet content.

* 63% could name at least one of the five freedoms guaranteed in the First Amendment -- the freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, to assemble, and to petition the government for redress of grievances.

What does this prove? nothing except that statistics by themselves are meaningless. Next time you post a story, have an actual argument instead of mere statistics aimed to incense and manipulate the reader.

one thumb up, one thumb down (3.50 / 2) (#43)
by mcwee on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:52:33 AM EST

While I disagree with C4Life re: whether the original post stated an argument (I believe that the thrust of this implicit argument was "everyone is dumb and/or deluded-- except FFFish, for the scales have fallen from his eyes"), I appluad C4Life's very ellucidating recasting of these numbers. The interested may want to check out How to Lie with Statistics and Pitfalls of Data Analysis-- the first is a wonderful book on how stats are generally manipulated to serve the presentors interests and the latter was the first thing I found while looking for an online edition of the former.

Ah mi.

The PMjA; it's a whole new kind of Truth.
[ Parent ]

Re: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics (none / 0) (#66)
by Bwerf on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 07:02:42 PM EST

Well, while I agree that statistics is not of any use without a source you're not correct in your attempt of figuring out positive numbers, I'll just give one example and people will be able to figure the rest out:
* 51% said the press in America has "too much freedom to do what it wants."
does not equal:
* 49% said the press in America "does not have enough freedom to do what it wants."
it would have been true if you said:
* 49% didn't say that the press in America has "too much freedom to do what it wants."
which doesn't sound very positive but there is a very important difference there, in the latter case all the people that did one of the following are included(but not in your scenario)
1) Said "I think that the press in America has exactly as much freedom as it should".(probably the largest group to dissappear in this case, equal to "I don't care" or almost anyways)
2) Didn't answer the question at all (normally you do an educated guess about this based on the rest).
3) Answered anything the teensiest bit nuanciated(depending on how this survey was done. But I would give very little for a survey that don't let you specify your opinion more than Yes/No, which would also imply that it is highly automated and you don't really know much about the people that are in it.)

Finally I'd like to say that I also recommend "How to lie with statistics" which I saw in the other reply. It's a bit dated, but still very good although it doesn't discuss any mathematical problem with statistics, this on the other hand makes it very easy to read.
this might have been a bit off-topic as I didn't read the actual survey first :). But I think that whatever it says(or almost) this will still be valid. Well, now I'd better be off reading it.
If you're still reading this far I'd like to thank you for taking your time ;)

[ Parent ]
Update (none / 0) (#67)
by Bwerf on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 07:25:43 PM EST

After actually checking the the survey out it turns out that I was right(ok I like to brag a little, I'm glad when I'm right ;). What you said would have been correct if you said:
* 7-14% said the press in America "does not have enough freedom to do what it wants."
That's right, not 49% but 7-14%(the variable number is because they used two different questions to ask the same thing).

[ Parent ]
Philip Converse would say... (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by lordsutch on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 12:52:23 AM EST

I hate to burst your bubble, but asking the public any questions about any topic is fraught with danger. For example, back in the 60s or 70s (I think, I can't be bothered to pull out my Public Opinion textbook), a lot of people got their panties in a twist because ~20% of Americans allegedly said that "it was possible that the Holocaust never occured." However, the number dropped to statistical insignificance if they were asked if they personally believed the Holocaust happened. People will believe anything is possible.

Of course, it's also possible you're asking people questions about things that they don't care about, in which case you'll tap what Philip Converse called "non-attitudes": people will make shit up rather than admit to an interviewer they are (or might be) stupid. You can control for this using reaction-time analysis and looking for affective (emotional) response, but it's still a problem with surveys.

Either that, or the American public has a firm grasp of infinite improbability theory, which of course states that anything that is outside the realm of possibility will, in fact, occur with absolute certainty. (Douglas Adams)

Linux CDs. Schuyler Fisk can sell me long distance anytime.

AARRRRGH! (none / 0) (#44)
by FFFish on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 01:10:08 AM EST

*ARE* protected First Amendment freedoms!

[smacK!]

The Point of It All (4.00 / 8) (#56)
by FFFish on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 01:33:44 AM EST

This "article" and the previous one (re: distribution of wealth in America) were mainly just intended to be a bit of an eye-opener for folk.

When nearly 60% of people figure the government should restrict sexually explicit Internet content, it paves the way for politicians to start making laws about the Internet. Once they start, they will not stop.

When nearly a third of people feel it's okay to ban "offensive" rallies, it paves the way for the government to ban any rally it cares to.

When fully one-third of your neighbours don't even know what their freedoms are, and damn near half of them don't care to understand how important those freedoms are, *YOUR* freedoms are at risk.

The government will get away with as much control over its population as it can. America is already heading towards a police-state mentality -- witness the panic over protests at the WTO and other significant political meetings; the FBI's EMail-tapping software; the insidious changes to law that are beginning to allow the police to search-and-seize on *suspicion*, and so on.

Think beyond whether the statistics numbers are perfectly accurate: they're surely in the ballpark. Even if you give or take 10% for pollster bias, there are dire consequences to *YOUR* rights, freedoms and society when such significant proportions of the population are so clueless.

Do I have a solution? No.

But it's sure as heck better to be aware of the problem than ignorant of it.

Those Kuro5hin readers who'd like to get a broader dose of news should check out the Prorev site, linked to in the article. Yes, it's partisan -- but so is *everything* else you read; perhaps Prorev will balance it out a bit better.

Read, consider and then accept or discard: that's the only way to become more informed.

Re: The Point of It All (2.50 / 2) (#64)
by Matrix on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 05:10:21 PM EST

Something to remember: most of these people don't bother to vote, because they've been convinced that their vote won't change anything. Therefor, the people who still do vote are probably the same ones aware of their freedoms and concerned about preserving them... We can only hope...


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Why I don't vote. (2.00 / 1) (#69)
by Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 09:03:48 PM EST

I like to think I am very aware of my freedoms, but that doesn't change the fact that I categorically refuse to vote. I have yet to read something other than a ballot full of criminals, and I hesitate to give my approval to ANY of them. That is what a vote is, your approval of an individual. I will not stand up before my fellows and say, "I approve of this person, even though I know he only wants power and will not do what he thinks is best for everyone." Votes only mean something when at least one of the choices is actually going to change the world.

But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.



--
Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, mhm21x16, and the Patron Saint of All Things Plastic fnord
I'm proud of my Northern Tibetian heritage!
[ Parent ]
Re: Why I don't vote. (1.50 / 2) (#73)
by Matrix on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 08:01:45 AM EST

There was actually an interesting comment on Slashdot a while back (that was actually at +5 for a while) about reforming the voting system to let people who feel like you do actually have an influence on things. One idea was to have a "None of the Above" choice which, if it won, would disqualify all of the candidates and force the election to be re-held with new ones. The other was to have voters able to say "yes" or "no" to each candidate, and the one with the most yes votes wins.

I thought it looked nifty. Not necessarily practical, but it seemed like it could be an improvement...


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Re: Why I don't vote. (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by _peter on Tue Sep 19, 2000 at 06:20:54 PM EST

If you've yet to read anything but a ballot full of criminals, I doubt you've ever paid attention to non-presidential elections. Off-year elections often feature (locally) important referendums that will more directly affect you than the feds will, and your vote has more influence in them than it does when it's drowned by 100 million others.

Also, in this presidential election, many states have three or more minor-party presidential candidates on the ballot, despite restrictive ballot access laws. So you can vote against both Bush & Gore at the same time. You might even find someone you'd want to vote for.

To anticipate the wasted-vote argument w.r.t. the bit players, most non-republocrat candidates spend significant amounts of energy just getting on the ballot. Receiving X percentage of the vote (X varies widely among states) will qualify them for inclusion the next time around w/o having to waste resources justifying themselves. So if you find a small party you agree with, vote for their candidates, if nothing else to help them surmount the obstacles that Democrats & Republicans have placed in their path.

The worst monopolists are politicians.



[ Parent ]
At least you have some rights.... (2.50 / 4) (#58)
by mindless on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 02:50:01 AM EST

Here in Australia, (afaik, ianal) there is no provision in the constitution for free speech, meaning the government can effectively do whatever they want to citizen's privacy. Just look at some of the draconian internet laws being passed here with more and more frequency, for example the Content Regulation Provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act (pdf file), which as far as I understand, and please feel free to correct me, make the individual service provider responsible for all content that flows through. I won't get into the sheer stupidity and complete failure of the bill here, as I'm sure it's been discussed before.

This is slowly starting to snowball into a major problem for all Australians - trouble is, most of them don't know it. It's remarkably similar to the DMCA in the US, in that the full effects of these incredibly broad laws are only starting to show up...


mik

------- "i really don't know what i'm doing here..." rs, the cure
prohibition of hate speech (3.00 / 4) (#60)
by bmattern on Wed Jul 26, 2000 at 03:04:57 AM EST

Why, in this great country of freedom, do we always hear people say "there should be a law against that." This seriously bothers me. We champion democracy, but constantly impose limits. Rather than seeking criminal/legal retribution for behavior that we see as socially detrimental (such as hate speech), why don't we impose social retribution. Next time one of your friends tells a rascist joke, tell him it's wrong. Next time someone lets a derogatory comment slip out, let him know that others may be offended by it. Educate people on WHY it's wrong to use hateful terms. Don't just tell them that it IS wrong. Too many people are too quick to seek out legislation to cure the moral ills of human behaviour. But similar legislation always seems to be abused and misused. If it is illegal to speak hatefully against a racial group, it may one day illegal to speak hatefully about the Government, or to criticize it at all. And I don't think anyone wants that to happen...

Fix double negative! (3.33 / 3) (#61)
by lythe on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 01:55:33 PM EST

More than a third of Americans aren't aware that speech, press, religion, assembly and petition of grievances aren't protected First Amendment freedoms.

More than a third of Americans aren't aware that speech, press, religion, assembly and petition of grievances ARE protected First Amendment freedoms.

The blurb for this story had me wondering since when speech wasn't protected by the First Amendment. Please, please, fix this soon.

Slash has nothing to do with That Other Site.

Sheep. (2.66 / 3) (#62)
by Alarmist on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 03:38:12 PM EST

This really is no surprise. Generations of manipulation by the best minds in the business has ensured that most United States citizens are mind-numbed, impulse-driven consumers. They don't want to think for themselves. They may not even know how to think for themselves, given that the public school system has quietly gone along with the captains of industry to see to it that critical thinking and reasoning abilities are ground out of each crop of new students. These kids, fed on a diet of fats and sugars that fills the stomach and robs the mind of much-needed nutrients, are exposed to at least four hours of television every day, TV that does nothing but destroy impulse control and shorten attention spans. (Is it any wonder they call it "television programming?")

So what are we to do?

Make time for your kids. Make time for someone else's kids if you have none of your own. The television is not a parent-surrogate, nor should it be. Neither is the computer. Sure, it's an uphill battle: by the time you get home from having worked overtime for no pay for the fifth time this month, you might not want to do anything but take a slug of booze and fall into an uneasy sleep. I don't blame you. But this is important. They're stealing our children out from under us, and they have to be stopped.

Fight the Power.


What I wanna know is... (2.00 / 4) (#63)
by greyrat on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 04:19:13 PM EST

...the phrasing of the questions used to get these responses. Remember, surveys (like statistics) can be bent to whatever purpose you want.

And who actually did the survey? Can you get put up a link to it? I can't seem to find it amongst all the other drivel on the prorev text only site.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Re: What I wanna know is... (2.00 / 1) (#71)
by jovlinger on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 11:20:56 PM EST

especially the question "...wasn't intendend to..." It is commonly believed (as to whether or it is true, I leave up to the reader to ponder) that the founding fathers only meant white males in the phrase "all men are created equal".

Of course we are more enlightened now. I could very well see that they did not mean to extend freedom of religion to extreme groups, in the same manner that offensive speach has been curtailed these days. Religion used to be grounds for being burnt alive, so it would still be quite forward thinking (at the time) to allow only a handful of views.

[ Parent ]
Democracy, freedom, and the american republic (4.00 / 3) (#65)
by adric on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 06:53:25 PM EST

/me kicks dead horse.

A republic (ie a representative democracy) is quite different from a democracy. (contrast Athens and the Roman Republic).

The USA was intended to be a republican democracy. In particular the majority was not to be allowed to rule because the majority opinion of a large group of people is not the best way to govern a nation-state and maintain the (inalienable) freedoms in question (at least in the opinion of the Enlightened phillosophs who influenced the Founders and Framers (They wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers). The most recent example in that time was the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, wherein mob rule caused the death of many people and put off France setting into a stable government (again).

This is why the United States Senate is not popularly elected, as is the lower house (the House of Representatives) (much like the English Parliament). That way elder statesmen could balance out the impulses of the mob, and hopefully keep freedoms intact and the country safe.

Except, as some of you may have noted, the Senate is popularly elected now. This power was taken from the states after what we here in the Southeastern USA call the Recent Unpleasantness. The marked the beginning of the end of New Federalism (ala the Federalist Papers). The balance of power between state and federal governments was irrevocably shifted. By the time of the New Deal programs, a huge paternal federal government which interfered in citizens private lives and business was all most people expected out of government in the this country. The "Civil War amendments" also brought us the Income Tax, which had been unconstitutional when used to fund the war.

<whine>

This just goes to prove Ka's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people, most of them are idiots.

</whine>

`They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.''

-Ben Franklin

the Constitution the Bill of Rights the other 17 amendments The Federalist Papers

Re: Democracy, freedom, and the american republic (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by psicE on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 08:33:35 PM EST

Greek Socratic View:

The Socratics seek to diminish the role for the Assembly, and end selection of positions by lot, and place as much power into the hands of a leadership elite, selected by some type of merit system. The creation of a governing Council would be preferable to rule by the Assembly, especially of the Councilors are chosen by merit. A Council composed of well-educated, thoughtful persons who have the scope to make decisions about policy and laws can serve as a bridge to the collective-rule of outstanding philosophers. Where the oligarchs regard property as a convenient and appropriate marker of merit, the Socratics would prefer selection based on different, non-materialistic criteria.

Electorate: Eliminated entirely. Let a Council, chosen by merit, call the shots and make the laws.

Social welfare: The idea of paying the losers of Athenian society to make decisions for the polis is appalling and, to the Socrates, absurd. The Socratics denounce this notion.

Support the Reconciliation Agreement: Most people cannot be trusted to respond sensibly and wisely to the truth. The Socratic state endorses state-invented "myths" in instances where the truth would harm the people as a whole. Moreover, to allow an angry mob to attempt to intervene in the wake of the many months of bloody civil war is foolish and dangerous.

Athenian empire: The Socratics are not opposed to empire in principle (should not the better rulers extend their dominion over lesser rulers?); but the position of the Socratics will be weakened if the Athenian democrats successfully wage a war of tribute; conversely, if the democrats begin a war and lose it, this might cripple Athenian democracy and help lead to something better.

Education of the young: For the meritocratic elite, rigorous training in logic, rhetoric, and exposition; for all others, vocational education in the activity best suited to their abilities. All of these "others" should be taught to defer to those who possess greater wisdom and understanding.

The adherents of Socrates may not oppose the trial of their mentor: a trial provides an opportunity to show the preposterousness of having the unlettered mob pass judgment on the wisest citizen of all Athens. Yet the conviction of Socrates would be a calamity, for it means that his voice would be lost to the world, and other potential critics of the unthinking mob would be intimidated into silence as well.

-------

Scary but true: You have the government in the hands of a group of philosopher-kings, and it'll be run wonderfully. The philosopher-kings should come out by themselves; you'll know them almost as soon as they're born. These are the people you want in charge of your country.

Except that we vote the people in (and barely, because we're just listening to advertisements telling us who to vote for), this is how our government is run. But we're not ruled by philosopher-kings, we're ruled by stupid bastards who think the best way to run a country is by putting mandatory prayer into schools and cutting taxes across the board by ~1.6 million(?).

-------

Fix the problem, VOTE NADER.

[ Parent ]
Re: Democracy, freedom, and the american republic (none / 0) (#75)
by Teneo on Thu Sep 21, 2000 at 12:26:56 PM EST

Well said. I despair at reading most of the posts about politics and government on K5, as most posters haven't the first clue what they are talking about. You're the first who does.

[ Parent ]
Don't forget the 2nd amendment (2.00 / 5) (#70)
by r00tbeer on Mon Sep 18, 2000 at 09:39:21 PM EST

Between the Klinton administration, HCI, the likes of Dianne Feinstein and Schumer, our 2nd amendment rights are being attacked constantly. No guns = no self defense or freedom

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