Sunday, June 10, 2007

Civil Liberties and if you should trust your Govenment

This is just a short article to ponder. I wonder if enough people in this nation will wake up to the devestation done to our civil liberties and to our core principles of government before it is too late.


armagh444 said...

Frankly, I don't think we educate people well enough about their civil liberties for most to even have a clue as to when they are and are not being infringed. One of the most abominable changes in our educational system over the last several decades has been the wholesale removal of required Government classes from high school curricula. Our Republic relies, and has always relied, on a well-educated citizenry for its vibrance and durability, and yet we are now failing to teach our citizens how that government works.

Well, we're failing with regard to most citizens. New citizens still must pass a civics test in order to be sworn in as citizens. Frankly, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to hear that naturalized citizens, as a class, are better informed about the way the government functions than are born citizens.

Yeah, this is a bit of a soapbox rant-point for me and has been for years. How could you tell?

DBB said...

Rant away. I think this is (along with the financial things I posted about today) is one thing that should be taught in schools that really isn't. Sometimes I wonder if this is deliberate. Sort of like how I wonder why there are no courses in critical thinking in school - is that deliberate because parents don't want children coming home and questioning, say, religion. Or the powers that be. (Though teenagers will likely never have problem questioning 'authority' - that vague rebellion does not amount to truly understanding civil rights or knowing hot to think critically).

So I hope you stay on that soapbox. Since my wife is a naturalized citizen, she had to take that test.

This now makes me think of Starship Troopers - there, though it was somewhat dark satire about an authoritarian society, I did like one aspect of it - the idea that citizenship was something that had to be earned even if you were born there - perhaps we all should need to earn it, though I can already see the problems with such an approach (like disenfranchising the poor and ill-educated so they can't vote - then again, we do that already anyway).

I ask my babysitter about current events sometimes to see if she's even paying attention or cares about what is going on right now - like with Bush, civil liberties, Gonzales, or just politics in general. She really does not pay attention to any of it. Neither do any of her friends (I've asked her about that as well - though perhaps some do and she is unaware of it). Not that I was all up on such things when I was 16, but I wonder where the interest should start.

armagh444 said...

I've never understood why critical thinking skills aren't taught, though I think your theory might have some merit. I was fortunate on that front in that I had a mother who encouraged me to ask hard questions and in that I attended twelve years of parochial school in a diocese whose educational structures were dominated by Franciscans and Jesuits, two orders that actually encourage questioning, provided said questions are intelligent. Critical thinking was something I had to learn if I wanted to have my queries answered.

I also tend to agree with you on the concept of earned citizenship, which was one of the things I always liked best about Starship Troopers (yes, I'm a Heinlein fan too). I don't think that Heinlein's vision of earning it through military service is workable as I don't think that everyone is suited by their talents and personality to military service, but I would be open to a system that allowed people to earn citizenship through either a term of military service or a term in the civil service. I see the merit in the potential pitfalls you posited, but I think those could be overcome with truly effective universal education (perhaps modeled after the British model; whatever their faults, the Brits do education wonderfully well).

As far as when kids start becoming interested in current events is concerned, that's one realm in which I'm relatively clueless. I was interested in current events and politics and the workings of the world from the time I was a very young child, and my daughter is following me in this habit, and she's far more committed to action than I was at that age. For my daughter and I, that sort of thing is just natural. I did ask my husband, who is far more typical, when he started really paying attention to current events and politics, and he said it was something he did in response to my quasi-obsessive attention to the subject. So, I guess, there is something to be said for the notion that concern about that sort of thing is a matter of environmental influences.