Newsday Op-ed: Mass Ignorance vs. Democracy & Liberty

Newsday published an op-ed of mine today on how ignorance is subverting democracy and liberty.   Some people may dispute the porn ratio in the piece; my hunch is that the number errs significantly on the low side.    The article is being distributed nationwide by the Los Angeles Times/Washington Post syndicate, so it may pop up in other locales.  Here are few bits:

Ignorance is dragging down democracy. Most Americans are increasingly on automatic pilot, paying less attention to each new war, each new power grab, each new presidential assertion. But citizens need not slavishly follow every public debate in order to tilt the playing field against demagoguery.The typical voter fails to comprehend even the basics of government. Most Americans do not know the name of their representative in the House, the length of terms of House or Senate members, or what the Bill of Rights purportedly guarantees, according to surveys by the University of Michigan…..

With the rise of the Internet, it has become much easier to find politicians’ speeches, proposed new laws, and media reports and analyses of government policies. Still, people probably spend a hundred times longer online checking out porn sites than they do tracking down government abuses….   In 1693, William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, declared, “Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed.” Penn’s words should make Americans recognize the choice between knowledge and subjugation. People must either better understand government and politicians, or kiss their remaining rights and liberties goodbye. 




4 Responses to Newsday Op-ed: Mass Ignorance vs. Democracy & Liberty

  1. Libertarian Jason February 17, 2006 at 2:04 pm #

    Well… That’s government schooling for you!

  2. Steve February 18, 2006 at 11:26 am #

    Jim, just a word of thanks for your well stated views. I got “Bush Betrayal” and “Feeling Your Pain” on the cheap from this morning.


  3. Marty flaster February 20, 2006 at 8:07 pm #

    Mr. James Bovard
    Opinion: We’re losing in the government game

    Please accept this letter as a response to your work on protecting our freedoms.
    As a teacher at Horizon Academy (Rikers Island) I must be innovative with a strong academic and professional background and a commitment to helping students in a correctional setting and in doing so to strive to teach about Americans need for freedom and democracy education.

    We the teachers of Horizon Academy are in the front lines in the battle to reform and rehabilitate, we recognize that education is the key to changing ones destiny.

    Our students must understand that they have a role in the government, and need to personally know that they too have need to know what it means to be a citizen.

    For the past several years we have enjoyed being employed as teachers for the New York City Board of Education. In this tenured capacity we helped to create The Horizon Academy on the grounds of the Riker’s Island Correctional Facility.

    We worked closely with the school’s administration, educators and counselors to develop educational programs, curriculum and student advisory programs based on the unique needs of the students population.

    Based on the specifics of individual cases students can be enrolled for a stay of a few days or as long as up to two years, averaging for a stay of six weeks.

    We must make the lesson plan and corresponding material very student centered as well as engaging.

    The lesson from the “We the People

  4. Steve February 22, 2006 at 6:35 pm #

    Let me second the high regard for Jim. I’m also a teacher (sorry, Jim, in the public schools), and his ideas are cutting edge. Buy this man’s books!