In a recent study, the First Amendment Center (FAC) uncovered data which proponents of freedom of speech may find alarming. The survey data, which was released Wednesday, found that 19 percent of respondents believe the amendment “goes too far” in the rights it guarantees. That is almost one in five Americans who thinks the amendment is overly broad in the rights it protects.
While this statistic is alarming, perhaps even more alarming is the fact that this number is better than it has been in the past. Within the last decade, as many as 49 percent of those surveyed thought the amendment went too far in the rights it guarantees. That means, at its worst point, in 2002, nearly half of Americans thought the First Amendment to our Constitution should be more limited.
The study highlighted a number of other interesting facts:
The only First Amendment freedom that most people were able to name was the freedom of speech, identified by 55 percent of people. The least known was the freedom to petition, identified by only four percent of those surveyed.
Thirty nine percent of respondents were unable to identify any freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Thirty nine percent of people said the press has too much freedom, while only seven percent said the press doesn’t have enough freedom. The number who said the press has too little freedom has been declining, while those who say the press has too much freedom has increased.
Five percent of respondents said the government should be primarily responsible for keeping inappropriate TV programs away from children, up from one percent five years ago.
While the study primarily focused on where people get their news, it is a good wake-up call to those who are concerned about First Amendment rights and freedoms.