Support For First Amendment Freedoms Rebounds

Support For First Amendment Freedoms Rebounds

According to the annual State of the First Amendment survey, conducted by the First Amendment Center with American Journalism Review magazine, Americans' support for First Amendment freedoms continues to rebound.

Gene Policinski, acting director of the First Amendment Center, said "The 2004 survey found that just 30 percent of those surveyed agreed that 'The First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees,' with 65 percent disagreeing."

Other findings in the survey that large numbers of Americans would restrict speech that might offend racial or religious groups and would restrict music that might offend anyone. Also, about four in 10 respondents said that the press in America has too much freedom.

Key findings of this year's survey:

  • About 65% of respondents indicated overall support for First Amendment freedoms, while 30% said the First Amendment goes too far - a nine-point swing from last year and a dramatic change from the 2002 survey in which Americans were evenly divided on the question at 49% each.
  • Only 1% of Americans could name "petition" as one of the specific rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Only one of the five freedoms was identified by more than half of those surveyed: 58% named "speech." For the other rights: religion - 17%; press - 15%; assembly - 10%.
  • About 58% said that the current amount of government regulation of entertainment programming on television is "about right;" 16% said there is "too much," while 21% said there is "too little." Broadcasters and producers should note, however, that 49% of respondents would have current daytime-and-early-evening regulations regarding references to sexual activity extended to cover all 24 hours; and 54% would extend those regulations to cable, which currently is not covered by such FCC rules.
  • 50% said they believe Americans have too little access to information about the federal government's efforts to combat terrorism - up from 40% in 2002.
  • About 53% of those surveyed opposed a constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning, a proposal now pending the U.S. Senate.
  • About 70% said that including the words "one nation under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance does not violate the principle of the separation of church and state.
  • Just 28% rated America's education system as doing an "excellent"or "good" job of teaching students about First Amendment freedoms.

You can find out more here.

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