Marge, Homer and our rights, March 1, 2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

There’s been quite a bit made in the National Security Agency wiretapping story about the fact that the American public, by and large, doesn’t really care.

Pundits say that it’s the opinion of Americans that if you don’t have anything to hid, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

While that’s debatable, a news story came out today that I think better explains Americans’ apathy toward the program.

According to the Associated Press story, a study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that twice as many Americans could name two members of the Simpson family than could name two of the rights guaranteed to them by the First Amendment to the Constitution n it’s the one that guarantees freedom of press, speech, religion, assembly and petition.

The study further found that 22 percent of Americans (about 64 million of us) could name all five members of the Simpson family while just one in 1,000 of us (about 290,000) could name all five of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment.

If so few know what’s in the First Amendment, then it’s likely that even fewer know what’s guaranteed to them in the Fourth Amendment (the one against unreasonable search and seizures) or how our system of checks and balances is supposed to work.

The point is that people don’t care about things they don’t know anything about.

In my case, for instance, that would be automobile engines. I don’t know anything about them and don’t care. I just want my car to start.

I think it’s the same with the spying.

And by the way, yes, I believe we should be spying on suspected terrorists any way we can, I just think we should follow the law when we do it. I’m one of those old fashioned law and order conservatives, I guess.

Our democracy is on shaky ground if the citizenry is so ignorant of its rights and I would suggest that’s a much bigger threat to our freedoms than anything terrorist could do.