Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Simpsons v. First Amendment

Have you seen this amazing survey. It compares the Americans' knowledge of the first amendment protections with knowledge of contemporary popular culture.

See how you would have done.

How many of the constitution's first amendment protections
can you name? [really do it, there are 5 according to the survey.]

How many of the members of the Simpson's immediate family can you name? [again there are 5.]

How many of the judges on American Idol can you name? [i got 0. i think there are 3.]

Here are some of their results:

Only one in four [Americans] could name more than one of the five freedoms it upholds but more than half could name at least two members of the cartoon family.

About one in five thought the right to own a pet was one of the freedoms.


Another finding from the poll, a telephone survey of 1,000 random adults with an error margin of 3%, was that 22% of Americans could name all five Simpson characters.

By comparison, just one [of the] 1,000 people [surveyed] could name all five First Amendment freedoms.

In case you were wondering, the simpsons are:
  • marge
  • bart
  • lisa
  • homer
  • maggie

The freedoms are generally accepted as:
  • speech
  • press
  • religion
  • assembly
  • the right to petition the government for redress of grievances
It should be noted that there is a machloket over how to count the exact protections. There are actually two religiously related protections: right to free exercise of religion and protection from the formation of a state religion (establishment clause). What exactly is considered a right, protection, and freedom is open to debate:

Jamin Raskin, professor of constitutional law at American University, told [the WSJ's carl bialik] that he considers the First Amendment to contain six rights: He treats free exercise of religion and the establishment clause separately. "It's clear as matter of constitutional doctrine that establishment doctrine and exercise clause are different thing," he told me. And Ted Widmer, director of Washington College's C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which conducted the college's George Washington study last year, says he wouldn't have named the freedom to petition for redress of grievances. "I don't think most historians know that one," he told me. "That one is pretty obscure. I wonder who the one guy in America was who they found who knew" all five freedoms.


At 3/22/2006 , Blogger BZ said...

Shit, I missed "petition the government for a redress of grievances", not because I didn't know about it, but because I counted the establishment clause and the free exercise clause separately, and stopped when I got to 5. I also got all 5 Simpsons (of course) and 2 of 3 American Idol judges (though I don't watch American Idol). I suck.

At 3/23/2006 , Blogger ZT said...

that's terrific result BZ.
though i got petitioning for redress i missed all the american idol judges. i knew there a simon something...

At 3/23/2006 , Blogger BZ said...

The question just asked for first names of the judges, so you got one! I got Simon something (who was a guest on tThe Simpsons) and Paula Abdul.

I knew that Paula Abdul was on American Idol, because I sometimes (for no good reason) refer to her song "Opposites Attract" when teaching electrostatics, and over the course of my (not so long) teaching career, the students' reactions have gone from "Oh, my older sister used to listen to her!" to "Who???" to "Paula Abdul from American Idol?".

At 3/23/2006 , Blogger ZT said...

i bet they'd be like "Ice Cube! isn't he that guy from law and order?"

At 3/23/2006 , Blogger Ruby K said...

I missed one of the American Idol judges, Randy whatever his name... but obviously the simpsons are much more important to me. Oh yeah, and the first amendment.


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