BBC
US teens 'reject' key freedoms

A significant number of US high-school students regard their constitutional right to freedom of speech as excessive, according to a new survey.

Over a third of the 100,000 students questioned felt the First Amendment went "too far" in guaranteeing freedom of speech, press, worship and assembly.

Only half felt newspapers should be allowed to publish stories that did not have the government's approval.

It's a bit scary when "normal" shifts like this.

Here is an old Encyclopedia Britannica Films video clip from 1946 (I think) about despotism that they showed to children in schools. Amazing how things have changed. I wonder what kids would think now watching this clip.

Via Greg Elin

26 Comments


You obviously do not understand Child Psychology [Reverse
Psychology] and
HOW SMART the U.S. teens have become.

U.S. Teens will answer like that assuming there is some
sinister plot behind the survey. U.S. Teens are becoming
more and more educated about other nation's desires to
destroy them and their lifestyles.

By answering like that, U.S. Teens will assume that the
evil people behind the survey will conclude that the
teens are happy in their current state of censorship
and will not take more freedoms from the teens. The
teens view that as a victory. They do not lose more
ground.

If instead, the teens flaunted their free speech rights
the teens would assume they (the teens) would be
painting a big target on themselves with the words,
"censor me more". The study shows how smart the U.S.
teens are and how they have learned to respond with
mis-information to protect themselves.

"U.S. Teens will answer like that assuming there is some
sinister plot behind the survey. U.S. Teens are becoming
more and more educated about other nation's desires to
destroy them and their lifestyles."

Just look at ICANN as one example. U.S. teens can clearly
see that an Australian-run company, with sleezy male U.S.
attorneys, and greedy Canadians are determined to push
them into PORN, POT and other areas they have been educated
to avoid.

ICANN and the ISOC will help to lure teens to islands
like Aruba where Internet cafe owners are waiting to
eavesdrop on the teens communication and when they find
the right prey, they swoop in with their date-rape drugs
and the teen disappears into the night.

U.S. teens are being educated to stay away from ICANN
and the ISOC. That may not make Japanese males happy
if they now find it harder to get laid when they come
to the U.S. ICANN will of course turn to New Zealand
where the age of consent is 16 and prostitution is legal.

U.S. teens are being educated not to follow ICANN and
the ISOC to the dark-side.

Are you serious, "George W"? I'm a teen, and I know for a fact teens are not as smart as you believe. Most are, pardon my French, complete and utter dumbasses. I've never met anyone in my life who would answer like that so "that the evil people behind the survey will conclude that the teens are happy in their current state of censorship and will not take more freedoms from the teens." Sure, there are smart ones, lots of 'em, but all the ones I know would answer it truthfully.

Proof: Someone in my Photo class (we're seniors in high school) today had no idea what was going on the entire time. (We were supposed to cut pictures out of magazines and glue them in a notebook.)

If they don't know that, how are they going to recognize some "sinister plot" by the survey takers?

P.S. I heard about this survey in the beginning of this year and, I have to admit, I was a bit shocked. I didn't know so many of my peers thought this way. I guess it's one more reason to put myself out of my misery before it's too late.

Stupid little shits.

[quote] Some 83% of students polled felt people should be allowed to express unpopular views. [/quote]

I wonder how that compares with Iran, Japan and the UK? I imagine the percentage will be higher in the US. As with all surveys like this, it would be interesting to see what the actual questions were. There is a big difference between "Do you think the Internet should be censored?" and "In some cases, do you think the Internet should be censored?"

The article doesn't mention any previous polling, so your discussion of a "shift" and "eroding" seems presumptuous. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a third of American teens have disagreed with the first amendment ever since it was first introduced.

Don't be surprised, High School students have (and are taught, implictly, that they deserve) fewer freedoms. Its logical then that this would affect their view of the world.

" I guess it's one more reason to put myself out of my misery before it's too late." Joe just stick with it and move to Brazil =)
I'd be surprised by what this survey asks, we'll see.

Anyway, 1/3 of 100,000
that means over 60% of students think the first amendment is fine.

also it's important to take this in context:
"In particular, educators are failing to give high school students an appreciation of the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and a free press, say researchers from the University of Connecticut, who questioned more than 100,000 high school students, nearly 8,000 teachers, and more than 500 administrators and principals."

The study was to see how schools could improv teaching of constitutional rights hence it focused on misconceptions

"Among those students who have taken courses dealing with the media or the First Amendment, for example, 87 percent believe people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions. Among students who have not taken such courses, however, the number fell to 68 percent.

Though student journalists are the savviest among all high school students on the First Amendment, a quarter of U.S. schools do not even offer media programs to students."

what's interesting is:

"Nearly all principals surveyed agreed students should learn about journalism, but said financial constraints block the expansion of media programs."

Financial constraints? english.ohmynews.com, blogger.com, get the kids a website and your good to go. it's so cheap to write and publish these days, it seems more like time or a volunteer teacher is the real problem. Can we contact these people? Do they know how to make a website? non-profit for e-journalism? ahh the solutions are always blogs somehow... =)

Full Study here: http://firstamendment.jideas.org/index.html

Now, I'm not going to say that US students are exactly smart about the First Ammendment, but that BBC story was spun spun spun.

Stupid teens! Always having oral sex and not knowing anything about the 1st amendment. Come to think of it, ignorance is bliss, being a teen actually sounds quite nice.

Why is it that we're never given access to the questions that were asked in this sort of story?

Wordings of survey questions are often deceptive and leading. If we were allowed to see the questions and responses, I doubt the story would be so shocking, but of course, that's what they were after, wasn't it?

Without any supporting data, this sort of story reeks of being merely an alarmist puff-piece in search of a sound byte.

Good point, Jim O'Connell. The survey is here.

I have a small disagreement with this question.
'The rights guaranteed by the First Amendment: Do you "personally think about them?" Do you "take them for granted?'

Probably very few of us sit around dreaming about the First Amendment. And if someone asked me that question I'd have to answer that the First Amendment doesn't actually guarantee anything, it just enumerates rights that Americans already have. So the question could have been worded better.

But overall I think the BBC reported accurately in this case.

Thanks for the link, Boo.
The data supports what the article states, but misses some of the more worrying points, namely those of the educators and administrators. One of the questions given to principals:


High school students should be allowed to report controversial issues in their student newspapers without the approval of school authorities.

-46% Strongly disagree

I was a bit disturbed by the frequent use and wording "take them for granted" too. They are guaranteed by the constitution, so, yes, (for the time being at least) you can "take them for granted." What exactly do they mean? If a student cannot take for granted something granted by the constitution, what can they?

Well, tell those high schoolers whom think that way to STFU then!

I also think the survey result is not reliable. It's like asking my son about things he has no interest in while he is playing an intense video game. If I asked him if he wants a cellphone, I can trust his answer. But if I asked him if he thinks First Amendment should be revoked, I can't.

What I am interested in is what motivated the surveyer to do this survey. For what campaign of their own are they collecting this 'bullets' for?

Surveys CAN be carefully worded to produce a pre-expected result

Careful selection of schools too. Survey places in the deep south or the bible belt if you want more conservative replies.

Of course, if you want to skew the study in another direction, you could go to a place where the kids' parents quite likely wear long hair and smoke pot (or at least grew up in an atmosphere where that was normal).

Or where the atmosphere has been traditionally more liberal and less focused on Kinder, Kirche und Küchen [let us leave it at the literal "family, church and cake, with emphasis on the church

> What I am interested in is what motivated
> the surveyer to do this survey

Probably a liberal organization out to show how disastrous bush and the neocons are for America? :)

Oh - freedom of speech is a great thing to have around. It is when that freedom gets grossly abused that things start to go awry.

It seems the american mis-education system is working beautifully! Pretty soon they will have exactly what athey want: a nation of compliant workers and soldiers.

In other words: an ant colony.

Consume. Conform. Obey.

I think this is "lost highway," but one way. if you never have sushi, you would think everything raw is bad for you. Imagine you always have the freedom of speech, who cares if a little bit of freedom is taken away. On practice, if anyone who understand the other side of the equation, those who don't have, wants more, those who have it think lesser. A typical case of mis-intrepretation, almost "lost in translation," maybe all those answers are like "virgin suicide," a linear translation of a "taste of honey."

That documentary is freaking awesome. I am going to be showing it at my next Young Democrats meeting.

Let me start by saying I love the US. I respect its freedom; I adore many of its people and love the optimism that being in the US fosters.

However, if under any circumstances, the youth of the nation, whose administration believes it has the moral righteousness to become the protectors of democracy and freedom of speech around the globe, do not believe in its own first amendment, I begin to feel really worried. US foreign policy is under more question now that at any time in this Empires history. The US requires healthy questioning and if necessarily a rebellious youth to maintain its international respect and righteousness. This research suggests there maybe an unquestioning youth and that the USA’s core values may be under threat. Am I wrong?

Related to this on 9/19/05 the Bishop of Oxford in England explained why the Church of England was unilaterally apologising to Muslims for the West's litany of errors over the Iraq war and its relationship Saddam (the sales of weapons, the blind eye to use of chemical weapons against the Kurds and Iranians etc). He also expressed concern that the war was in partly due to the US Neo Cons will to secure a stable long-term oil supply in the face of an unstable Saudi Arabia.

So you say, whatever? My worry (and I have read the questionnaire and answers) is that if the US, which assumes such a high moral and political stance, is fostering a youth (even a percentage) of unwavering loyalty to the state and flag then I worry that the US will lose its grip on its own democracy. Loyalty to the flag and limited freedom of speech are after all the first steps towards extremism and an arrogant state of righteousness. No one wants that I am sure.

I agree with Boo. Kids are spouting nonsense like this because they take these freedoms for granted and they don't fully understand what's at risk. They haven't thought it through. As Don Park says, their feedback is unreliable.

But the younger generation is supposed to rage against the machine, not for it; they're supposed to question authority, not question those who question authority.

And what's so frightening is that we're seeing the beginnings of the first post-9/11 generation — the kids who first became aware of the news under an "Americans need to watch what they say" administration, the kids who've been told that dissent is un-American and therefore justifiably punished by a fine, imprisonment — or the loss of your show on ABC.

President Bush once asked, "Is our children learning?" No — they isn't. A more appropriate question might be, "Is our teachers teaching?" In four years, you can teach a gorilla sign language. Is it too much to ask that in the same amount of time a kid be taught what those crazy hippies who founded this country had in mind?

I know the Morals & Values folks want us to take time out of the school day for prayer and the Ten Commandments and abstinence training and at least two theories of evolution — the one agreed upon by every scientist in the world and the one that involves naked ladies and snakes — but, lest we forget, last month the people of Iraq risked death and danger to send a simple, inspiring message: America, get out of our country. But also, we want the freedoms you take for granted.

Now, I didn't mind being on the losing side of the last election. But as a loser, I guess I have some "unpopular" opinions — and I'd like to keep them. I'd even like to continue to say them right out loud on TV, because if I just get up there every Friday night and spout the Bush administration's approved talking points, that's not freedom or entertainment. It's Fox News.

-Bill Maher

Wow. I'm surprised.

Thanks for the link.

"By answering like that, U.S. Teens will assume that the
evil [BBC] people behind the survey will conclude that the
teens are happy in their current state of censorship
and will not take more freedoms from the teens."

One would hope that U.S. Teens would also be educated to
respond to ICANN, the ISOC and ARIN in a similar way.
If asked if ICANN is regulating enough, the Teens should
be trained to answer, "Oh Yes, ICANN is a wonderful group
of honest and well-meaning people who never tax us and
who always do the right thing."

If asked, "Should ICANN create any more TLDs?", the Teens
should be trained to answer, "Nah, we have plenty, we
are so grateful to the ICANN masters for their wise
decisions about TLDs." At that point, the Teens should
be trained to fall on their knees and stretch out their
arms and bow and wave in unison to the ICANN Gods.

[While doing that, the Teens of course are using their
cell-phones and single-letter TLDs to text-message each
other about blowing smoke up the asses of the senile
Taliban that runs ICANN.]

U.S. Teens are not stooopid. They have grown up in
cyberspace, unlike their parents. They see the hypocrisy
of the ISOC's Taliban and also see that the best way to
route around such an insideous group is to give answers
the Taliban wants to hear while voting with their feet
and technology in the other direction.

I derive from this survey that significant a percentage of the soon-to-be voting age public should be finding another country to live in. Since they don't believe in the Bill of Rights, freedom of expression or the rest of the First Amendment, they definitely should never be allowed to serve in a position that requires them to uphold the Constitution. I also see no reason to allow them citizenship, and favor deportation of the individuals concerned.

Yes, this a radical proposition, but I see no reason that people that refuse to conform to the founding principles of the United States should be allowed to stay here. After all, if they favor abrogation (as in "to treat as nonexistent" -- m-w.com) of other people's (notice I didn't say artificial entities like corporations) rights, I see no reason why they should be able to retain theirs. I consider this type of people as the most dangerous kinds of dissidents that can inhabit a country.

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Scary . . . A significant number of US high-school students regard their constitutional right to freedom of speech as excessive, according to a new survey. Over a third of the 100,000 students questioned felt the First Amendment went "too far" in... Read More

This is a lovely movie from 1946 from Encyclopedia Britannica about how to place your <i>community</i> on a Democracy vs Despotism scale. The link to the archive.org is here, however I could not get it to play in Quicktime... Read More

BBC US teens ‘reject’ key freedoms A significant number of US high-school students regard their constitutional right to freedom of speech as excessive, according to a new survey. Over a third of the 100,000 students questioned felt the Fi... Read More

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