The Simpsons and the First Amendment
March 02, 2006 at 9:20 AM
It seems like everyone’s discussing the results of a recent poll demonstrating that Americans know more about the TV show "The Simpsons" than they do about the United States Constitution. According to the poll, less than one percent of respondents could identify the five rights protected by the First Amendment, which the poll listed as freedom of press, speech, assembly, religion, and the right to petition the government. However, 20 percent of respondents could identify all five members of the Simpsons family by name. Some poll participants also believed that the Constitution protected an individual’s right to own a pet and drive a car. As you can imagine, this news has generated quite a bit of chatter in the blogosphere. For example, the Volokh Conspiracy’s Dale Carpenter, a constitutional law professor at the University of Minnesota, challenges the poll author’s assumption that the First Amendment only enumerates five freedoms: "By the way, I count six (not five) freedoms explicitly listed in the First Amendment: no establishment of religion, free exercise, free speech, press, assembly, and petition. If we added the unenumerated freedom of association we’d get to seven." You can read more blog commentary on the poll here.