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Watch: Yale students sign petition to repeal the First Amendment, banning free speech, religion and the right to petition the government

Constitutional ignorance

(NaturalNews) In September 2012, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter sat down with PBS correspondent Margaret Warner before an audience of students at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

During the discussion, a student asked Souter the following question:

"I've heard a lot this evening about Democratic principles, civic engagement, and I guess I'm wondering, Justice Souter, if you could share with us your thoughts about what the appropriate role and, probably responsibility as well, of our schools to produce civically engaged students."

Souter's response was, essentially, that American public schools and universities have long since stopped providing adequate civics education – principles of American government, the Constitution and what it means, etc. – and that it is harming our country in immeasurable ways, particularly our political system.

He responded:

"Well, I'll have to be careful of that one because I could talk even longer on that than on some of the other things I've talked on. But, I'll start with the bottom line: I don't believe that there is any problem of American politics and American public life which is more significant today than the pervasive civic ignorance of the Constitution of the United States and the structure of government."

Constitutional ignorance will be our downfall

Souter went on to say that "we know, with pretty reliable evidence, that two-thirds of the people in the United States do not know that we have three separate branches of government" (the Legislative, vested in Congress; the Executive, vested in a president; and the Judicial, vested in the federal court system, with the U.S. Supreme Court being at the top of that branch). He also said that he remembered reading a study a few years before which found that a "significant" number of Americans believed that the Supreme Court "was a committee of the Congress."

These are major problems, he noted, because a population not properly educated in the function of its government is not equipped, civically, to maintain it – or the liberties and freedoms that same Constitution guarantees. He recounted that when he attended high school, he was required to take two civics courses (one on the federal Constitution and one regarding the state constitution), and while "we didn't know a lot" after taking those courses, "we had a basic understanding" of how government functioned and what rights were enumerated in the nation's founding document.

Fast forward to today where, on an Ivy League campus, there are far too many students so ignorant of the Constitution, its founding principles and its basic protections, that they are willing to sign at least some of them away.

As reported by Fox News:

"Looking to understand just how controversial the debate over free speech on our college campuses really is, filmmaker and satirist Ami Horowitz recently traveled to Yale University, one of our nation's most prestigious institutions of higher learning, to speak directly to students.

"'I decided to take this campus free speech debate to its logical conclusion,'" said Horowitz, who, in a video demonstration, asked students if they would sign a petition calling for an outright repeal of the First Amendment.

"The result was this unbelievable display of total stupidity," she said.

One generation away from extinction

What's as sad as it is dangerous, is that Horowitz found that a solid majority of students she interviewed would willingly sign a petition banning the First Amendment, which guarantees the right to free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression and the right to petition the government for redress.

"I think it's really awesome that you're out here," one student even said.

"I think this is fantastic. I absolutely agree," said another, obviously ill-informed Ivy Leaguer.

"I appreciate what you're doing," added another.

Somewhere, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Souter must be hanging his head in shame.

Benjamin Franklin said to a woman who asked him what kind of government was settled upon following the colonists' victory in the Revolutionary War, "A Republic, madam, if you can keep it."

Much later, in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan said, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free."

Demonstrations of ignorance, like that at Yale recently, make such observations prescient and wholly understandable.





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