Land Of The Free and other myths

We are in the Land Of The Free.
How do I know that? It's in the song.
Just look at all the flags, and lapel pins, and just ask any conservative. They'll tell you this place is free.

There's just one problem: it's all bullshit.
Americans a) don't know what freedom is, and b) want no part of actually being free.

I'm going to break this down one civil right at a time.

Americans know literally nothing about the Constitution

More than one in three people (37%) could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment. THE FIRST AMENDMENT.
* One in three (33%) can't name any branch of government. None. Not even one.

That level of complete ignorance can't be blamed on the schools. That's just a bunch of ignorant, lazy people who don't give a fuck.

When confronted with the facts, people reject liberty.

In a finding that shocked some observers, a new poll says that barely half of Americans - just 51 percent - would vote for passage of the U.S. Constitution if the same document approved over two centuries ago were presented in ballot form today.

If you are thinking "At least it's a majority", just wait until we break it down by individual rights.

A third of people would reject the entire 1st Amendment.

In a survey released today by the Newseum Institute, 34% of Americans say the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees

It gets worse when you get to specific examples.

According to the topline poll results (to which I received advance access), 72 percent of Republicans would support making it illegal for an American to burn or desecrate the flag. A little more than half of Republicans would punish the desecrators by stripping them of their U.S. citizenship, something Donald Trump suggested (to great and deserved indignation) a few weeks after he won the election last November.
Most GOPers recognize, at least in theory, that disfavored speech should still be protected: Around seven in 10 agree with the statement that "people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, even those that are deeply offensive to other people," compared to less than five in 10 Democrats. Nonetheless, 36 percent of Republicans would support prohibiting offensive public statements aimed at the police, and the same number would ban such comments aimed at the military. By comparison, just 24 percent would outlaw offensive speech aimed at gays, lesbians, and transgender people.

So Republicans agree in the principle of free speech, but not in practice.
That's called cognitive dissonance.
Meanwhile, Democrats don't even agree with free speech in theory, especially millennials.

It doesn't stop there. Republicans don't like other parts of the 1st Amendment.

Perhaps most troublingly, 50 percent of Republicans say the press in America has too much freedom to do what it wants.

Liberals are no better.

Fully half of Democrats think that "government should prevent people from engaging in hate speech against certain groups in public." Some 53 percent say that defending someone else's right "to say racist things" is just as condemnable as "holding racist views yourself."

Republicans don't have much use for freedom of religion either.

When asked if they supported “establishing Christianity as the national religion,” 57 percent of the Republicans surveyed told Public Policy Polling (PPP) that they were in favor. Three in ten opposed turning the US into a theocracy, while 13 percent were unsure.

Republicans don't have much use for freedom of assembly either.

That's just the 1st Amendment.
Now let's look at the 4th.

Currently 62% say it is more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy. Just 34% say it is more important for the government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.
These opinions have changed little since an ABC News/Washington Post survey in January 2006. Currently, there are only modest partisan differences in these opinions: 69% of Democrats say it is more important for the government to investigate terrorist threats, even at the expense of personal privacy, as do 62% of Republicans and 59% of independents

If you don't like the government spying on you, you are in the minority, especially if you are a Democrat.

Now let's look at the 8th Amendment.

Sixty-three percent of Americans think that torturing suspected terrorists can be a justifiable way to get information, according to the Reuters/Ipsos results. A quarter of respondents think it’s “often” justified, whereas nearly two-fifths say it’s “sometimes” justified.
Thirty-six percent of respondents, however, say that torture is “rarely” or “never” a justified interrogation method, with 21 percent saying “rarely” and 15 percent saying “never.”
Partisanship has some influence on respondents’ answers. Eighty-two percent of Republicans condone the use of torture, compared to 53 percent of Democrats.

Republicans love, love, love them some torture, but most Democrats do too.
Torturing for confessions is also covered in the 5th Amendment.

First, the Rasmussen poll, conducted nationally:
Fifty-one percent (51%) of U.S. voters oppose the Obama administration's decision to try the confessed chief planner of the 9/11 attacks and other suspected terrorists in a civilian court in New York City. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 29% of voters favor the president's decision not to try the suspects by military tribunal at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba where they are now imprisoned. Nineteen percent (19%) are not sure whether it was the right decision or not.
"Only 30% of Americans said suspected terrorists should have access to U.S. courts…"

People accused of being a terrorist should feel lucky if they only get imprisoned for the rest of their lives without due process, while being tortured. It could be worse.

Here are the poll results: Overall 83 percent of Americans approve of the use of “unmanned, ‘drone’ aircraft against terrorist suspects overseas,” 59 percent strongly and 26 percent “somewhat.” Of those who approve, 79 percent think the use of targeted killing against American citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism is justified. The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent, who takes a closer look at the internal numbers, finds that “Democrats approve of the drone strikes on American citizens by 58-33, and even liberals approve of them, 55-35.”

Due process be damned, including if you are actually innocent.
The only freedom in the Bill of Rights that Americans support in practice is the one about guns. Why do you need a gun?
To defend your freedom! What freedom is that?
The freedom to carry a gun apparently.

47 users have voted.


Strife Delivery's picture

I was going to write a similar thread here on this topic but you went and did most of the leg work for me ha

15 users have voted.

@Strife Delivery

George Carlin


American History Summary unfiltered

3 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

Given the choice between a union job with decent benefits and wages and sucking dick for money, 33 percent of Americans would choose the latter. Yes, they're that dumb. And these same assholes control the conversation in America.

20 users have voted.
thanatokephaloides's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Let's be honest.

Given the choice between a union job with decent benefits and wages and sucking dick for

.... far too little ....

money, 33 percent of Americans would choose the latter. Yes, they're that dumb. And these same assholes control the conversation in America.


15 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

GreyWolf's picture

@The Aspie Corner Is that a real survey? I'd love to see that if it is (heck, I'd conduct that survey if there isn't one!) "Given the choice between a union job with decent benefits and wages and sucking dick for money, 33 percent of Americans would choose the latter."

8 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture

@The Aspie Corner

Literally or metaphorically. But the latter is off target, I think:

And these same assholes control the conversation in America.

If only…. The reality is much worse. The Overlords control the conversation to a degree that is absolutely stunning. The assholes merely comply.

I believe the Overlords are making a big mistake with their plans to criminalize certain thoughts and words in upcoming legislation. There will be web pages that are illegal for Americans to read; the metadata knows who's been naughty or nice. The Overlords already own the American brain, and this over-reach will have unintended consequences. Why don't they know that? They saw how their moronic sanctions killed the Petrodollar and laid the groundwork for a multipolar world. They just couldn't take "yes" for an answer.

The authorities in the US are a complete mess of perverse logic and paranoia. This seems to confirm their Empire is in a catastrophic flat spin. Fascists — you can't live with them, and you can't deport them. But you can sure spot them. Over the past 100 years, they have weaponized patriotism, nationalism, and the flag whenever they want to seize control of a country and suppress the objections of the People. The only legislation that Hillary Clinton ever got around to when she was a senator was to weaponize the American flag. Figures.

17 users have voted.
The Aspie Corner's picture

@Pluto's Republic

The only legislation that Hillary Clinton ever got around to when she was a senator was to weaponize the American flag. Figures.

Which, with regards to SCHIP, she had jack shit to do with it. And, just like Dipshit Trump, she would have let it expire.

16 users have voted.

If we haven't become one already.
Americans are arrogantly ignorant. Critical thinking is disdained.
I'm "afraid" we are witnessing the collapse of the American empire first-hand.

26 users have voted.
OLinda's picture

Am I wrong in thinking that those born in the 50s and 60s understand what "America" is supposed to be, and after that, it seems to go downhill. As your essay shows, so many people don't understand actual rights and freedom.

Teenagers today only know the world post 9/11. They are growing up not knowing what the past was like, how it is supposed to be, and thinking the curbing of our rights is normal. Does not portend well for the future.

To me, it's already over. We have no rights anymore. Anyone in authority can do anything they want to you and they will. If you are lucky, the ACLU will take up your cause, but that is rare, and after the fact - - after you have suffered and been abused. It's downright scary. Most of the time, people are abused and no one ever knows or cares, whether it's sitting in jail for years with no trial or conviction, or having a strip search on the street. Somehow it is legal to have your car and property confiscated while not being found guilty of anything. Something is wildly wrong in this country.

Thank you for the post, gjohnsit.

30 users have voted.

- - - -
If you don't like the Mafia, why don't you join it and change it from the inside?

Hillbilly Dem's picture

@OLinda I've finally come to grips with the fact that America has changed. We were changing for the worse between 1980 and 2001, but at least it was plodding. After September 11th, the change was at a blinding speed; at least to me.

It's over. To be clear: I ain't quitting, I'll go down fighting. But I do believe that we will never return to anything that even resembles the America of, say, 1972; the year I started college.

27 users have voted.

"Just call me Hillbilly Dem(exit)."
-H/T to Wavey Davey

mimi's picture

@Hillbilly Dem @Hillbilly Dem

1 user has voted.

@Hillbilly Dem So we have similar experience.

What struck me at 9/11 was the timing. A very complex "Patriot Act " bill was ready to be signed within a few weeks. Was it ready to go before hand?

I don't know, I usually find ct distasteful.

But man, those must have been some busy lawyers, eh?

14 users have voted.

@peachcreek Project for a New American Century (PNAC) had a document talking about all they would do and how it only needed a "New Pearl Harbor" to set it in motion.

The paper titled Rebuilding America's Defenses, was their policy document.

You better believe that everything was ready to go once 9/11 occurred was made to happen.

3 users have voted.

Yaldabaoth, Saklas I'm calling you. Samael. You're not alone. I said, you're not alone, in your darkness. You're not alone, baby. You're not alone. "Original Sinsuality" Tori Amos

zett's picture

@peachcreek No CT required. Senator Russ Feingold said at the time that it was made out of an old FBI/Intel Agcy "wish list".

3 users have voted.

My inner still, small voice, the voice that comes from that peaceful place where I know what I'm doing is right, tells me not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Sorry, Bernie.

Bollox Ref's picture

I like flags. I collect them and fly them. If someone was to burn my Union Jack in front of me, I'd be fed up, but only because I'd have to go and buy another one. My sense of self and place is not tied up by a piece of cloth (likely polyester or nylon, and made in China).


20 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

gulfgal98's picture

@Bollox Ref Americans seem to worship the physical item that is supposed to be a symbol, but have no desire to actually stand up for what it symbolizes. We put far too much value on a piece of cloth that we call a flag, but could care less about the rights for which it supposedly stands.

10 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

Daenerys's picture

@gulfgal98 claim to be "good Christians". What was that part about not worshiping false idols...? Seems to me all this flag worship goes against those words.

7 users have voted.

This shit is bananas.

gulfgal98's picture

@Daenerys you commenting Daenerys. I have missed your comments. Smile

4 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

Big Al's picture

today, at least not if there was an opportunity for something better. The system of government set up was intended to keep the power at the top of the money chain as it still does today. The concept of representative government is nothing but by government by oligarchy.

18 users have voted.
GreyWolf's picture

@Big Al "The system of government set up was intended to keep the power at the top of the money chain as it still does today."

I am so sick and tired of, "It started with Citizen's United," or, "It started with this or that," creating a plutocracy, or an oligarchy, or a corpratocracy, or whatever, started in 1776, or even before, if you want to be technical.

15 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@GreyWolf @GreyWolf  
Or when Jacob used deception to put one over on his aged dad Isaac, cheating Esau out of his birthright. He not only got away with it, but his whole line became the favored one.

The 1% thinks it is Jacob. The 99% start out with power due to our numbers, but most forget or never learned the importance of revolutionary vigilance. Thus are most of us easily fooled into ceding all decision-making power to the crafty professional communicator and the suave, well-spoken sneak.

14 users have voted.
Meteor Man's picture

American schools have been underfunded and the curriculum dumbed down to the point that history is rote memorization of "important" dates. Manifest destiny morphed into American Exceptionalism, with the implied parenthetical of moral, racial and cultural superiority.

Jack Bauer proved that torture works. Professional wrestling and Law & Order prove that the good guys always win. Hollywood and the media glorify cops and the military. College professors and science have been effectively demonized. Fox News and The NY Times have won the propaganda war.

America's moral compass has been shattered and it never was all that good to begin with.

23 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

snoopydawg's picture

Welcome to my world. This is the type of thinking that I'm constantly surround by. It seems obvious that people The results of the polls are stunning, more than I thought possible in this day and age, but I think that the constant attempts to divide us is responsible for many people's reactions.

9 users have voted.

The Democratic Party under Bill Clinton transformed itself into the traditional Republican Party, and the Republican Party moved, was pushed, so far to the right it became insane

SnappleBC's picture

Particularly in light of the fact that people (by that I mean "corporeal people") have so few rights in the US to start with. Living in Canada has been an eye opener in that regard. But apparently even the few rights Americans have they don't actually want.

Honestly though it explains a lot. I've said for a long time that the problem in America is cultural more than economic or political. This is just another indication of that sickness.

13 users have voted.

A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

10 users have voted.

Betty Clermont

QMS's picture

free from worry cause don't tink too much, be my best guess

6 users have voted.

Intelligence is being redefined as the ability to repeat ever more complex instructions.

gulfgal98's picture

I will admit that I only knew four of the five freedoms listed in the First Amendment. I forgot the right to petition. I am absolutely shocked at how little Americans seem to value the actual rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights.

Americans are not stupid, but are victims of brainwashing. IMHO, the single greatest example of this brainwashing is American Exceptionalism, and it is the reason why Americans cannot make the connection that their own freedoms are being curtailed. American Exceptionalism has led many people to believe that the continuous curtailment of freedom is only applicable to the bad guys and will not affect them personally. While anecdotal, I have heard many people I known along with family members who do not believe the erosion of rights under the Constitution will have any affect upon their own lives. They also see nothing wrong with using extreme measures like drone strikes against unknown persons in foreign lands because they trust our government.

Thank you for this outstanding essay, gjohnsit. I think what you have pointed out in it bears continued discussion.

6 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu


The semi-annual Harvard Institute of Politics survey of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 found that before the Paris terrorist attacks, the age group was equally divided over a ground campaign against ISIS, by a margin of 47% to 48%. But after the attacks, 60% backed such an effort, with 40% against.

Over the course of the survey, however, only 16% of respondents said they would definitely consider, would strongly consider or were already serving in the military. Among Democrats, only 11% said they would consider joining or already serving. Among Republicans, the number was higher, at 24%, which was close to the 22% of Hispanics who said they were either already serving or would consider serving.

2 users have voted.