NEWS FROM THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY
2600 Virginia Avenue, NW, Suite 100
Washington DC 20037
World Wide Web: http://www.LP.org
For release: July 21, 2000
For additional information:
George Getz, Press Secretary
Phone: (202) 333-0008 Ext. 222
New survey sends scary message
to the First Amendment
: Drop dead
WASHINGTON, DC -- A new survey showing that 37% of Americans
can't name a single freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment and that
a majority think the press has "too much freedom" has Libertarians
wondering: Will the First Amendment die of neglect?
"Americans don't seem to realize that unless you constantly
defend free speech, it will vanish faster than subpoenaed White House
e-mails," said Libertarian Party national director Steve Dasbach.
"This troubling survey should make every American ask: Has the
First Amendment become an endangered species?"
The survey, released late last month by the New York-based
First Amendment Center, revealed that significant numbers of Americans
say they are willing to allow the government to control, restrict, or
ban material that some find offensive.
Of the more than a thousand adults surveyed across the nation:
"The good news is that, in some cases, a substantial number of
Americans seem to understand the value of free speech," said Dasbach.
"The bad news is that, in some cases, a sizable minority -- or even a
majority -- of Americans appear willing to put the First Amendment
What explains Americans' indifference about fundamental
freedoms? Two obvious culprits, said Dasbach: Congress and public
"Congress is constantly churning out laws that infringe on the
First Amendment -- whether it is censoring the Internet, making it
illegal to distribute information about drugs, banning flag burning, or
restricting political speech in campaigns," he said. "Congress has sent
the message: You'll get as much free speech as we're willing to give
"And government schools have done a terrible job educating
young people about the basic freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of
Rights," he said. "Government schools have apparently failed in the
four R's -- reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic, and rights."
This survey should act as a "wake up" call for Americans, said
"The enemy of free speech is not censorship. It is apathy," he
said. "Americans need to wake from their lethargy, and remember: Free
speech isn't free. There is a price you must pay to defend it, and that
price is eternal vigilance -- not the infernal indifference this survey
seems to have uncovered."