A Third of Americans Not So Sure About the First Amendment

Abraham Lincoln warned us that “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” We see examples of Americans happily giving away their freedom to oppressive government in the forms of Obamacare, Common Core, TSA and so many other ways every day. While some recent surveys say America is on the wrong path and individuals want government to do less, others aren’t quite so sure that the rights given to us by our Creator don’t give us too much freedom.  

In fact, just over one third of Americans recently surveyed for Newseum’s annual State of the First Amendment report believe that our First Amendment goes too far.  Yes, too much freedom! If you weren’t already alarmed enough, consider that the number is up from only 13% last year. That is an incredibly rapid increase in Americans who aren’t so sure we deserve to exercise our right to speak freely, assemble or practice our religion. Obviously, this is not a pace that can be maintained if we are to remain a free society. 

The study also showed, paradoxically perhaps, that 47% of Americans believe that freedom of speech is the most important freedom in America. Do these respondents believe that the other freedoms protected by the First Amendment (freedoms of religion, press, petition, and assembly) are also important freedoms, or that all of them are critical, but must be restrained? This is something that should worry all liberty loving Americans. 

I am regularly horrified by the things Americans do which are protected by the First Amendment, but I know that the same First Amendment protects my right to speak out against these things, too.  We’ve become a nation of cowards in many ways and we must fight for that which made America great, before the standards that set our nation apart from the world are lost forever. 

To quote Edward R. Murrow (who, as a broadcaster, understood the importance of the First Amendment), “A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves.” It seems that more and more Americans these days are lining up to get sheared…or worse.