Acton Institute Powerblog

The Right to be Ignorant

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“The First Amendment does not cover burping.” (from episode 2F22)


One of my favorite websites to check out on occasion is Professor Plum’s EducatioNation, and the first quote on the homepage is this from Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” [Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816]

To underscore the relevancy of Jefferson’s point, a recently released study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum “found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.”

In addition, “Only one in four Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and petition for redress of grievances.) But more than half can name at least two members of the cartoon family, according to a survey.”

According to the AP, “About one in five people thought the right to own a pet was protected, and 38 percent said they believed the right against self-incrimination contained in the Fifth Amendment was a First Amendment right, the survey found.”

More available at the Freedom Museum and the First Amendment Center.

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty. He is also a postdoctoral researcher in theology and economics at the VU University Amsterdam as part of the "What Good Markets Are Good For" project. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary.

Comments

  • Thomas M Mahany

    1 in 1,000 know the 5 protected freedoms? What’s the proportion of lawyers in the general U.S. Population?