Americans Don't Know Their First Amendment Rights

Posted: Sep 12, 2017 12:00 PM
Americans Don't Know Their First Amendment Rights

How many rights guaranteed to you by the First Amendment can you name? I am sure you can name at least one, I hope. But for some Americans, knowing our fundamental rights appears to be a struggle.

In a new survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) at the University of Pennsylvania, 37 percent of respondents, shockingly, could not name one right found in the First Amendment. Not one. Five percent of those surveyed thought that our right to bear arms under the Second Amendment was under the First. The 37 percent could not even remember their right to freedom of speech. One may expect our right to free speech to be overlooked as many millennials, as well as other Americans, believe it is okay for the government to censor speech that is deemed to be offensive to them or others.

But why does this matter, whether or not we know what rights we have or don't have? Ask yourself, how can we protect the rights we have if we do not know what they are? If, as a society, we do not understand our fundamental rights, rights endowed by our Creator, it opens the door for big government to put restrictions on us. If we do not know our rights, we will not bat an eye as the government cracks down on rights we should hold dear.

In today's society, not only do we apparently not know what our rights are, but we decide to create rights for ourselves. How many times have you heard that we should have a right to health care? Some people will argue we should have the right to a job (looking at you Colin Kaepernick fans).

We attempt to trade our rights for other perceived "rights" or think our Founding Fathers did not quite get this whole freedom thing right. Yes, the Founders were flawed human beings who did not always live up to the principles they purported, but those principles, when applied to everyone, show there is no better way for a government and people to coexist.

The most important thing to realize is that we do not earn or create our rights. These rights are inherent in us because we are human beings created by God. Our rights do not come from a government institution created by man. If we held the latter to be true, our rights would change on a whim, rendering them useless and not rights at all. Our government is the protector of our rights, not the bestower of them.

Understanding what our rights are and where they come from is key to protecting our free society. It looks like it's time for some Americans to retake a civics class.