A January 31 report from the PEW Research Center shows that the American people feel that the government is a threat to their personal rights and freedom. The survey of 1,500 people showed that 53% of American believes the government cannot be trusted. This charge led by Conservative Republicans has little substance, but the mere idea that a majority of Americans believing their own government is out to get them reflects the reality of ignorance among the US electorate.

What freedoms and rights are threatened? When that question comes up, those surveyed are a little less specific except in the idea that their guns will be taken. With 300 million guns in the US it would take a special collection teams decades to locate and confiscate all the guns in the United States. Additionally, if it was a hostile movement AK-47’s, large clip weapons and handguns are not much help against mortars, 70 mm cannons or missiles, not to mention supersonic fighters and drones.

The right of free speech is firmly in place. And, since the Reagan era the equal response law is no longer an issue as conservative talk and TV shows dominate the airways. Religious freedom? Christianity dominates as the major religion in the United States. Although other denominations are growing Christianity is still the largest segment in the country.

Perhaps, it is that religious concepts as law or education cannot be promoted taught or proselytized on public property. However, religious school are free to teach it just as the unreligious are free to have no beliefs or to be being bombarded by the beliefs of others. By law, women are free to procure an abortion even though conservatives have diminished that right.

Additionally, any rights and freedoms infringed went that route voluntarily with programs like the Patriot Act. Repressive legislation fostered after the 9/11 tragedy were given away freely and passed by the very people claiming their freedoms and rights diminished. Keep the damn guns; they are worth little more than political fodder.  No one is coming to get them and if the Chinese attack the weapons they bring will turn our 300 million rifles and handguns into cap pistols.

Guns are off the table. So, what is the issue? You’re already denying women their right to a legal abortion. Freedom of religion is still in place although record numbers of Christians are leaving the faith each day. No, it seems the only right or freedom disappearing never was such and that was the arrogance of a group people thinking their ideas should be imposed on a country where there is a chance for true freedom.

Sadly, the truly free recognize that it is filled with responsibility, not license; accountability, not selfishness and most importantly, compassion, not avarice.

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Comment by Joan Denoo on February 14, 2013 at 2:54pm

You guys are right on target! As a little old lady, I can squawk and squeal until my voice is gone and my fingers worn away from trying to convey messages that our nation is designed to protect property and the only time those who do the production is when the oligarchs need breathing bodies to do the work, fighting and dying.  

Comment by Alan Perlman on February 14, 2013 at 10:30am

I have no business generalizing about what is or is not taught in thousands of schools -- all I see is the output: a nation of sheep.  I would love to be optimistic but unfortunately, as your examples ilustrate, other things are more important that teaching critical thinking.  There are anecdotal signs of enlightenment, but on the whole, indoctrination is institutionalized.

Comment by tom sarbeck on February 14, 2013 at 6:08am

"...elementary critical thinking skills, all too seldom taught,...."

As I recall the message of James Loewen's "Lies My Teacher Told Me", it's reasonable to conclude that the chief purpose of public education is to teach children to feel good about America. As to American history in the Catholic schools I went to, its chief purpose as I recall it was to teach children to feel good about missionaries converting the natives to Catholicism.

Some members of elected school boards see their service as a political mission, their goal being to teach patriotism. The Xian fundamentalists who occasionally deceive voters into making them school board majorities want to teach conservative Xianity in general and the world according to Genesis in particular.

I'm happy to support the efforts of NCSE (Nat'l Cte for Science Education, at ncse.com). Their email newsletter tells of attempts by xian repubs in legislatures to put their version of critical thinking (a bizarre mutant of their Intelligent Design, itself a mutant of Creationism) into public school science classrooms.

I'm optimistic. The young people who phoned SF Sex Education seemed like natural-born critical thinkers. When I was supervising shifts there, I told new volunteers "If you have any hangups you don't know of, our eight- and nine-year-old callers will help you find them."


Comment by Donald R Barbera on February 13, 2013 at 9:34pm
In writing my book about depression in African Americans an interesting statistic jumped out at me--nearly 50% of young children living in the inner city suffer from PSTD. it was tied to violence in the home, the community and harsh living conditions. Yet, they are clearly visible on the grid as consumers and even over consumers of ideas and products that nearly guarantee they will remain at the same location on the grid.
Comment by Donald R Barbera on February 13, 2013 at 2:47pm
Unfotunate, Mr. Postman is no longer alive but his work is a constant source for discussion.
Comment by Alan Perlman on February 13, 2013 at 11:38am

Tom...Much info and insight in your brief comments.   Kinda sad that one must be hyper-alert to see all the crap, when elementary critical thinking skills, all too seldom taught, would enable a lot more people to see through it.

My preference for truth goes hand-in-hand with my skepticism, humanism, and atheism.  I look at my 7-year-old stepson and see how much of his world is constructed for him from outside, whether by parents (see my latest post on religious indoctrination), teachers, or marketers (every year there's a new toy to obsess over, with its own TV show to reinforce the marketing message). 

He is JUST starting to develop a mind of his own, but that's only because his Mom and I are encouraging him to do so.  He certainly doesn't get it in school or from the TV.  Large numbers of people never even graduate to this stage and are perfectly content being told what to think, believe, and value.

I also have read other Postman books.  He should call the next one A Nation of Children.

I've encountered at least one true sociopath, my former boss. He was a tyrant, a liar, a toady, a true believer in the company's propaganda -- and, on casual acquaintance, a charming, witty fellow.

Comment by tom sarbeck on February 13, 2013 at 3:19am

Donald: "...all we see is slick marketing, smooth public relations distracting entertainment that allows us to be robbed and feel good about it."

Your words describe well the activities of sociopaths, especially the feeling good about being robbed. There's been some interesting research recently; check it out: 1-to-2% of unincarcerated folk, 20-to-25% of incarcerated folk, ~4% of business folk.  

Comment by tom sarbeck on February 13, 2013 at 3:09am

Alan: "I would rather have the unhappiness that comes from seeing and facing the truth...than the narcotized, happy dream world in which most of my countrymen live."

Ten years ago, after I read for the second time in about six months of the symptoms of PTSD, it hit me like a lightning bolt that I'd been hyper-alert (the mildest level) all of my adult life. It's why, when I found a political issue forty years ago, I became active and it's why I remain active: politics is an outlet for my hyper-alert energy. Before I found politics, I was all the time disgruntled.

Why PTSD? I grew up in a mildly violent home. I now laugh as I tell my war veteran buddies, "I had PTSD before I went to war!"

I have no evidence to conclude that your preference for unhappiness is a form of masochism.

BTW, I agree with your "...if people are accepting of political BS, they also buy religious BS and marketing BS." Some people I know and like accept that BS. I'm a rotten sociopath; I have too much empathy for them to say "Fuck them!" and take advantage. I do occasionally consider that option but in forty years haven't done it.


Comment by Donald R Barbera on February 12, 2013 at 5:33pm
Chapman wrote several books I liked. Early Internet was key-stroke based and tied mostly to schools (high end universities like Harvard, Yale, etc.) it was research oriented and keyboard intensive. It was the old ARC net. It was efficient if not high tech. Government offices had network enclosed in lead conduit to prevent intercepting signals. That was 1984. Unfortunately, I was a purveyor of the software and hardware that is now old tech (scanners, networks, readers, databases, servers and voice recognition) Kurzweil was part of Xerox at the time and made readers for the blind.
Comment by Alan Perlman on February 12, 2013 at 4:22pm

I read that book, and it made me even more cautious of the burgeoning techno-gadgets.   In general, if people are accepting of political BS, they also buy religious BS and marketing BS.  I have always been very careful about what I put into cyberspace; still, I have no privacy.

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