March 2, 2006

What are your rights? ‘D’oh’

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Most Americans have an easier time
naming members of the cartoon Simpson family than listing the
five freedoms granted by the nation's founders, a survey by a
museum released on Wednesday said.

Here's a hint: one of them is not the right to own and
raise pets, an error committed by one in five respondents.

Half of 1,000 Americans randomly surveyed by the McCormick
Tribune Freedom Museum could name at least two of the five
members of Fox Television's Simpson family, the stars of the
network's long-running show.

But just 28 percent of respondents could name more than one
of the five freedoms listed in the U.S. Constitution's First
Amendment -- about the same proportion that could name all five
Simpson family members or could recall the three judges on Fox
TV's top-rated "American Idol."

Just 8 percent could recall three First Amendment freedoms.

Two-thirds of respondents did remember freedom of speech as
one of five rights in the First Amendment, but just one person
accurately named all five.

"These survey results clearly demonstrate that many
Americans don't have an understanding of the freedoms they
regularly enjoy," said executive director Dave Anderson of the
museum, which opens on April 11 in Chicago.

Freedom of religion was recalled by 24 percent, freedom of
the press by 11 percent, freedom of assembly by 10 percent, and
freedom to petition for redress of grievances (right to a day
in court) by 1 percent.

Some participants displayed comical ignorance such as the
38 percent who believed the right not to incriminate yourself
-- "taking the 5th" in lawyer lingo -- was granted by the First
Amendment rather than the Fifth.

Among other rights not mentioned in the Constitution but
listed by some respondents was the right to drive and the right
to have pets.

The survey, conducted January 20-22, had an error margin of
plus or minus 3 percentage points.

In case you forgot, the Simpson clan's names are Homer
(owner of that exclamation of ignorance, "D'oh"), Marge, Bart,
Lisa and Maggie.