Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Simpsons and the Constitution

A new study confirms that Americans are knowledgeable about prime-time cartoons:

The study by the new McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum found that 22 percent of Americans could name all five Simpson family members, compared with just one in 1,000 people who could name all five First Amendment freedoms.
The people who promote The Simpsons have done a pretty good job at familiarizing Americans with their tee-vee show.

Meanwhile, the people who promote awareness of the Constitution are failing miserably. Ed Brayton is angry about it, and he's not going to take it any more:
They surveyed 1000 adults (literally). Only one could name all five first amendment freedoms. That's absolutely appalling. And I say, yet again, that there should be a test to become eligible to vote in this country. Yes, I know that poll tests were used decades ago in a racially prejudiced way, but that doesn't mean the idea itself is bad. There are ways to avoid that.
I don't necessarily disagree, but one immediate concern I have with the proposal is the likely shrug of the shoulders it would receive from large numbers of people who already can't be bothered to vote. Meanwhile, right-wing churches and think tanks would immediately launch a campaign to qualify "their" kinds of potential voters using a teach-to-the-test educational program. Before long we'd have a politics dominated by Christianist wingnuts who could recite the Consitution from memory and who would proceed to amend it into something that had considerably fewer freedoms to memorize.

I suspect the framing people would say that someone needs to frame the Constitution in a way that it connects with people on a personal level -- for example, by pointing out that two of the first amendment's freedom's, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, allow tee-vee shows like The Simpsons to exist without government's meddling.

Isn't this what Schoolhouse Rock was for? Couldn't something like that be revived? Corny as it was, it worked.

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