Pale Wire (Popscene)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Know Your Rights
Or at least imagine cooler ones.

(National Archives)

The McCormick Tribune Museum just put out the results of a poll gauging how well we, the people, know the rights enumerated in the first amendment to our Constitution.

I think you can guess where this is going.

To their credit, 70 pecent of respondants didn't need to be reminded of their freedom of speech. But just 28 percent could name two of their rights, and less than 1 percent—in fact, just one lone dude out of the randomly selected sample of 10001—could name all five freedoms.

Pollers also asked respondants if they could name all five members of the cartoon Simpson family or all three judges on American Idol. Har har, tired, easy and apples/oranges. What's really bizarre, and about as troubling as I'll allow this sort of poll to be in my life, is the number of people who selected "the right to own and raise pets" (21 percent) or "the right to drive a car2" (17 percent) from a multiple-choice list. Here's hoping they were just screwing around.

The margin of error is listed as 3 percent. You can read the full results report, including the polling instrument, here. A few frequenters of PaleWire are experts in this sort of thing. I'd love to hear their thoughts.

And, for all you forgetful freedom lovers out there, here's the full text of the amendment itself:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. (source)

11000 is also the sample size used by The Gallup Organization (source)
2The Bill of Rights was ratified into law in 1791 (source). While determining the origin of the automobile requires first determining the defintion of an automobile, the mass production of what we would call a car (a vehicle propelled by a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine) did not begin until more than 100 years later.