Letters to the Editor

Sad discovery

June 11, 2010


To the editor:

I made an unpleasant discovery the other day. It occurred during my lunch break where I work. I had occasion to sit with some co-workers, all of whom were younger than me. As a curiosity item, I asked if any of them had read the U.S. Constitution in its entirety. To my surprise and dismay the answer was universally negative. Each of them had read some part of the Constitution but none of them had ever read the entire document.

I then asked if any of them had read the entire Declaration of Independence. Again, I got a universally negative answer. Each, again, had read parts but none had read the entire document.

Now, these individuals had varying levels of education ranging from high school graduate to college graduate. I asked if those documents were still taught in school, be it junior high, high school or college. None of them recalled ever being required to study or know much about either document at any time during their educational experience.

This was very sad news to me, but it explains many things. If, indeed, we no longer teach the founding principles and documents of this country, it should come as no surprise that we have a population who no longer values freedom and who longs for a paternalistic government guaranteeing safety and security from cradle to grave. Sadly, that way layeth tyranny, for an uneducated population is far easier to control than an educated one.


Jim Phillips 7 years, 7 months ago

Ergo, the reason for the "dumbing down" concept of our (lack of) education system.

Cooky_the_Cook 7 years, 7 months ago

I read that stuff in school. I think you work with a bunch of slackers and illiterates, Brent.

maxcrabb 7 years, 7 months ago

South Junior High (back in the day) had a very nice gentleman come in, hand out copies of the Declaration of Independence, and read it to us.

It's just up to the student to give a damn.

ozzynbn 7 years, 7 months ago

I too, went to SJHS and it was part of the curricular in History class. I thought the documents to be inspiring. We discussed them and it instilled a sense of pride in most students. I think it should be required coursework at the jr high level.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

Pres Bush once said all of that stuff was nothing but a god damned piece of paper. My word that coming from a Ivy League graduate. Guess GW set the pace.


notajayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

Hate to break this to you, ol' bud, but the Constitution IS nothing but a piece of paper, for (at least) two reasons:

1) As has been shown repeatedly through history, it's not the words on that piece of paper, but the interpretation of whatever group of old men and women wearing black robes that really matter.

2) The Constitution can be, has been, and was always intended to be changed over time. Our forefathers were not such blind demagogues as to believe they could foresee, and dictate to, the state of the union and will of the populace several hundred years into the future.

tbaker 7 years, 7 months ago

By amendment - yes. By a Supreme Court "precedent " that is a complete departure from the constitution - no, but this is an acedemic dabate at best. So long as those we elect, who are suppose to protect and defend it, continue to be it's biggest violators, then it doesn't mean much. There is no practical consequence for ignoring our constitution, so it is no surprise people don't pay much attention to it. Congress and the President don't care what it says, why should anyone else?

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Don't actions speak louder than words? Given what he did during his regime it hardly matters whether he really did or did not utter the words.

Kyle Reed 7 years, 7 months ago

Sorry boygenius, but when the poster is claiming "Pres Bush once said all of that stuff was nothing but a god damned piece of paper" it most certainly does matter whether he really did or did not utter the words.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Since gwb, by his actions, demonstrated his contempt for the principles embodied within our Constitution, I don't think it really does.

ozzynbn 7 years, 7 months ago

Learn to quote properly. There was more to it than what you stated. Bush was mentioning that the document is worthless if not used.

Merrill, you are such a left wing bigot........

troll 7 years, 7 months ago


"'Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,' Bush screamed back. 'It's just a goddamned piece of paper!'"

Of course a lot of people doubt the sources of this article.

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

Just goes to show, Ivy League MBA ain't no better than cornfield berkley MBA.

The world is full of men who do big things, but when you meet ’em they are not outstanding personalities. Pretty near everybody is almost alike. (Will Rogers)

kernal 7 years, 7 months ago

No, I think that was in the late 19th century and it waned by the 1960's. The last 20 years, we can thank the two Georges.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

It is the republicans who benefit from a public stupid enough to vote against their economic interests.

It is republicans who have slashed taxes that support free public education for all.

It is republicans who support private for profit schooling.

It is, indeed, no accident.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Vouchers undermine the concept of a free public education for all and subvert the separation of church and state. I am happy to see the program ended.

imastinker 7 years, 7 months ago

That's easy to say if you live in area with great public schools. Move to downtown KCMO and make the same argument. Private schools are for the most part better than the public schools they compete against. The best public schools are better than maybe half the private schools, but the worst private schools are still better than about half the public schools.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

And the answer to that is to improve the public school system, not siphon off funds and students which will only worsen the situation.

notajayhawk 7 years, 7 months ago

"It is the republicans who benefit from a public stupid enough to vote against their economic interests. "

Two words:

"Obama money."

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

Wash DC spends close to $10K per student, what are the outcomes of DC public Ed, one of the highest per pupil budgets for a public school system?

KSManimal 7 years, 7 months ago

This sad, stale argument about dollars per pupil "here" versus "there" and "look how badly those students perform anyway" makes zero sense.

Would you visit a clinic for terminal cancer patients, cite the dollars per patient there; and then visit a family practice in the nation's healthiest city, cite the dollars per patient there.....and then claim "that cancer clinic must be a complete failure - look how much they spend, and the patients all die anyway".

That is exactly what you're doing comparing inner-city, poverty-gang-drug stricken schools to schools in healthy, affluent suburbs.

If you're so smart, how about you walk into the middle of DC and teach those kids? Oh, and since too much money is spent there....try doing it for about half that much.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

DC, of course, being a majority black area that is consistently denied the rights of self representation and statehood by ......guess who on the political spectrum?

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

There are highly successfull DC schools, the private ones. They spend less than half per pupil to get outstanding results but DC nixed vouchers. Locking the poorest of the poor out. Throwing money at the problem is not a tired argument, it's the constant wail. We need more dollars!!!

KSManimal 7 years, 7 months ago

You nearly said it yourself how those private schools manage to be highly successful - they only take students who want to learn, from families who value education, and if kids aren't performing; they toss them out. Voila! It's a Texas Miracle!

Vouchers or not, private schools won't keep the crack dealer, gang-banger students on the roster. Public schools don't have that option - they must take everyone.

Look closely, you'll see that not only do inner-city, poverty-stricken neighborhoods have "failing" schools; but they also have people in poorer-than-average physical health. Must be that the doctors in those areas are incompetent, right?


independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

Look in poor neighborhoods. You will see some good autos, good food, good clothes, cell phones/ipod/pda's. Now if the free market can distribute stuff that well the free market could work for education? per Walter Williams, black scholar came up by his own boot straps.

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

Here's a little gasoline for your fire. Teaching/Teachers used to be vocation it has degenerated to just another union job a la UAW (and the wage price spiral) see where it got them?.

KSManimal 7 years, 7 months ago

Where it got them? Hmmmm, let's see....

"Want to blame teachers for a trend? Here’s one: In 1900 only 5% of American adults had a high school diploma. In last century America has experienced a 17-fold increase in high school graduation rate. Not bad for a bunch of lazy, incompetent teachers and the union that harbors them."

"In the 1950’s, US Census data shows that about 60% of American adults had a high school diploma. In 2004, this reached an all-time high of 85%.

At the same time, anti-teacher pundits point to the decline in average scores and label our schools as failing. Reality check: if you previously tested only the top 60% of the population, and now you test the top 85%, the average score will drop. We can keep more kids in school or we can maximize test scores; but doing both is a statistical impossibility. "


Cait McKnelly 7 years, 7 months ago

Tell that to the "progressives" in Texas who booted Thomas Jefferson and all other Enlightenment thinkers and philosophers from their curriculum. Why? Well let's try out these two statements for starters: "In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to Liberty. he is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own." "Christianity neither is, nor ever was, a part of the Common Law." Thomas Jefferson 1814 That doesn't sit well with people who want to believe this country was founded on "Christian principles".

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Progressives? I don't think so. Do they even exist in Texas? Outside of Austin that is.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 7 months ago

Notice that "Progressives" is in quotes. That's called sarcasm, friend.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Ahhh, must be sarcasm impaired this morning.

c_doc77 7 years, 7 months ago


It is a matter of historical fact that the concept of the U.S. republic was founded on biblical principles, some of them distinctly Christian. Specifically, John Locke, who wrote the Second Treatise of Government, was a major theological influence on the determination of unalienable rights, etc.

I don't know the context of the quotes you have attributed to Jefferson. But they do not surprise me at all. He, like most of the Founding Fathers and everybody else, was full of contradictions. The issue of Christian influence on America is not as black and white as many have tried to make it, but it is a fact whether you agree with it or not. Its a complex thing to understand in light of the religious backgrounds of the people involved and the times in which these things happened.

And please don't pigeonhole me as someone on the so-called religious right. I'm merely giving you the history, which some in recent years have attempted to blot out for one reason or another. As an American, I would never dream of violating the rights of fellow citizens to believe or not believe whatever they want, whether they are Christians or something else, but when people want to alter history for political objectives, they are being disingenuous and need to be called on it.

cato_the_elder 7 years, 7 months ago

All it takes is watching a few of Jay Leno's interviews with people on the street to see how really ignorant most of our populace is regarding important current events and, most sadly, our history. On the other hand, most of them can provide you right away with anything you might want to know about what happened on the last episode of American Idol or how Paris Hilton was last deprived of her underwear.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

President Obama was elected as a direct response to the disasterous policies and administration of george w. bush. Given the choice of an ancient, unbalanced and pandering politician of the worst choice (not to mention his unimpressive running mate) on the republican side, they made the best choice the crooked system allowed.

Funny the guy who is soooooo opininated here elected to just shut up and not make waves. Kind of takes the bloom off the bluster exhibited here.

Larry 7 years, 7 months ago

Hey Scott....just remember it took a Carter to get a Reagan. Hopefully, the same will be repeated in 2012.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

You can hope for whatever you wish. I don't hope for a return of the right wing idiocy that has so damaged our country.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 7 months ago

Screw Shewmon and Barrypenders. Obama again in 2012! Why return to the same crap we just got rid of?

puddleglum 7 years, 7 months ago

" I just shut up and drank my beer. " advice from bill o'reilly!

glad to see you are finally taking your own messiah's advice.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

The same was true of many who voted for Bush.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

The selection of bush by the right wingers on the Supreme Court does not negate the fact that many cast votes for bush believing his "compassionate conservatism" campaign promises and were disillusioned to discover the extreme rightward tilt and excessive spending of his adminstration.

Plurilingual 7 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps you misspoke Tom; at this time the President of the United States is not elected by a popular vote. In fact, in the popular vote in 2000, Bush garnered only 50,456,002 (%47.87) votes compared to Gore's 50,999,897 (%48.38). If the decision was based on popular vote, Gore would have been certified as the winner (or there would have been a runoff depending on rules that don't exist). The President is elected by the Electoral College, in which Bush got 271 votes, meaning that he was the victor by only 2 electoral votes (you need 270 to win). That means that if any ONE state (or DC) had gone the other direction, Gore would have been declared the winner.


jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Part of the problem is that voters have an unrealistic idea of what the President can and cannot do, and another part is that they believe campaign promises.

Also, of course, we have an established culture in Washington that is overly influenced by money and corporations.

SnakeFist 7 years, 7 months ago

You've read the Constitution, but do you understand it? Legal scholars don't agree on how to interpret any particular clause, so when I hear uneducated conservatives talk about how the Constitution is being violated, I have to laugh. Name one freedom guaranteed in the Constitution that has been taken away - and you can't say "privacy" because you regressives keep arguing that a right to privacy isn't in there.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps you'll provide the quote of that statement so that its context can be understood and evaluated.

In any event, what phrase would you use to describe a document that did not affort full rights of citizenship to blacks? If that is not a fundamental flaw, what is the correct and approved phrase favored by you righties?

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

So Bush's disrespect for the Constitution is ok with you, but not Obama's.

I don't understand partisans - and I have the same problem with liberal ones.

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

So you complain that Obama says that the Constitution is an "imperfect document". By that I interpret that you feel that the Constitution is "perfect". Even the founders didn't think that, which is why they set up an amendment process - because they knew that it is a human document and is therefore not perfect and is likely flawed in someway.

And specifically what specific sections of the Constitution are being "shredded" by Obama? "Shredded" is a strong word, so you need some facts to back up your statement.

tomatogrower 7 years, 7 months ago

Examples of how he has shredded the constitutions, please.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 7 months ago

Bull! Obama is a Constitutional Law Professor. I think he knows a little more about it than you do. Why don't you get off and just keep watching your precious Faux Noise. Get a clue Nancy-Tom. Can you give an example of how he is "shredding the constitution" Didn't think so.

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

obama constitutional scholar? now what was the last scholarly quote about the constitution he made? perhaps the dig at SCOTUS?

yankeevet 7 years, 7 months ago

I noticed on my street; I am the only who displays the american flag..........whats up with that??

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

I let my freak flag fly sometimes. Most of those hung up on flying flags don't usually seem to appreciate it though.

geekyhost 7 years, 7 months ago

Yes, your neighbors are clearly unpatriotic. You should immediately report them to the authorities for their infraction.

tomatogrower 7 years, 7 months ago

I worked as a para in schools before going into business, and I can tell you they do teach the constitution. But what I saw in the schools was an anti education attitude on the part of the students, which I think they pick up from places outside of school. They had the attitude that all they needed to do was study enough to pass the test, then promptly forgot it, so those to whom you talked probably did study it. They just let it go when they walked out of the room. I saw it in English classes too. They were all taught that you need a verb to have a complete sentence and other important writing skills, and were even good at using them properly in English, but didn't transfer that knowledge when they had to write in their history class. And students seldom read the reading assignments in History. They just scanned the pages for the right answers to the study guide. The teacher was so frustrated, he started having them read it aloud in class, which wasted a lot of time. And I'm not just talking about those students, who were learning disabled. I'm talking about students who were headed to college. Whenever we told them they needed to take good notes and be organized, because they would need it when they went to college, they just looked at us, as if we were nuts. It wasn't "cool" to let on that you were smart or to be organized. They often bragged about being lazy, stupid and disorganized. I'd like to think that has changed, but when I watch shows that are popular with the young, I have a feeling it hasn't changed at bit, and maybe has gotten worse.

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

kids pick up the name calling and disrespect from some who post here, that's for sure

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

The unstated, and unsupported, supposition here is that there was some grand age of reason and education in which everyone in Brent's workplace would have committed all these documents to memory, not doubt after long hours of study by candlelight.

But it's just not true.

And even though Brent may consider himself a constitutional scholar, we all know from his postings here that his tortured biblical interpretations will always determine how he interprets the constitution.

Brent Garner 7 years, 7 months ago

Bozo, I have never pretended to be a constitutional scholar. I have quoted others who are. As for tortured biblical interpretations, my friend, your bias against all those who believe in God is legendary. You, sir, are a bigot, to put it simply. You have demonstrated this time and time again as you did with your post here. Was there a time of "reason and education"? I am not so sure. I do know this, and it is from my own life experience. I was required to know the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence during my K-12 experience. This included memorization of the Declaration of Independence--not that memorization guarantees absorbtion. But, we were tested on the contents of these documents and on the amendments passed to date at that time. I also know that my grandparents were required to know these documents as part of their education. I do not claim that they are not taught today. I said, in my letter, "If indeed". That is not a claim. It is more of a question.

But, you, sir, care not about such things but are so full of vitrol and hate for anyone who is less left than yourself that you cannot see anything as it really is. This world is worse off for the presence of such ideologues as yourself.

Now, I will close this post with this. IF your ilk, Bozo, end up having their way in this world, instead of more freedom and liberty there will be more repression. In every country where the leftist notions you support have gained sway personal freedoms have been curtailed and gradually eliminated in favor of the socialist-secular beliefs of those in power. I pray that your ilk either recognizes your error or are stopped from achieving your deadly design.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

As opposed to those bastions of freedom led by right-wing dictators or religious fanatics?

Brent Garner 7 years, 7 months ago

Jafs, to which religious fanatics do you refer? I can really only think of a few governments led by such people. Iran, Saudi Arabia, in fact most of the Islamic controlled Middle East come to mind. Also, what right-wing dictators do you refer to? We seem to be running out of those around this planet. I presume, of course, that you have separated religious fanatic governments from right-wing governments but have both under the general heading of totalitarian governments. I hope you also have listed under that heading the socialist totalitarian states, for example China, N. Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

I was simply correcting your notion that secular socialism is what leads to totalitarian governments.

There have been both left-wing and right-wing totalitarians.

And religion has also been used to oppress.

Solving the problem of oppression is not simply a political issue, and can't be solved by politics, imho.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

"The right to earn an honest living" Seriously?

tomatogrower 7 years, 7 months ago

Many, not all, of these are imperfect court decisions, that didn't always follow the constitution. The "separate, but equal" rulings of the Supreme Court in the past were poor decisions, but later overturned. There is a system in our country to change court decisions. It doesn't always happen overnight, but it does happen. It will never be a perfect document for everyone, but it is a document that can move and change with the times, until you bring in fundamentalist partisans who want it their way only. There are people who would throw out all the amendments, except the first 10, and deny rights to women and people of color.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

"Asset forfeiture without Due Process, Bennis v. Michigan"

A majority opinion written by William Rehnquist and joined by Scalia, O'Connor and Clarence Thomas. Is this really one of the cases conservative radio shows are complaining about? I tend to doubt it.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

See Snake's original comment. He remarked that he scoffed at conservatives constant bellyaching about constitutional abuses & sought examples. You appear to have attempted to provide a list in response. I was simply pointing out that one of the examples you cited was a product of the right wing conservative radicals on the Court.

SnakeFist 7 years, 7 months ago

This is exactly my point! You haven't cited laws passed by the legislative branch or policies enacted by the executive branch, you've cited decisions by the judical branch.

The judicial branch - not Liberty_One who has never been to law school - makes the final determination of how to properly interpret laws, which includes the Constitution. The fact that you don't agree with the outcomes in these cases is irrelevant.

I never cease to be amazed by the arrogance of conservatives who think they know more about the law (and biology, climatology, etc.) than those who have devoted their lives to studying it.

SnakeFist 7 years, 7 months ago

"I guess I should just leave those matters up to our wise overlords." - So legal scholars have wasted their time studying the Constitution, all they had to do was ask you for the correct answer. As I said, just another arrogant conservative.

It doesn't matter that the cases originated in law or policy, Article 3 vests the judicial power in the Supreme Court. By definition, if the Supreme Court says a law or policy is Constitutional, then it is, and, under the Constitution, your opinion is irrelevant.

SnakeFist 7 years, 7 months ago

You still don't get it. Marbury v. Madison didn't create judicial review - the Supreme Court can't create powers for itself - it held that the Constitution gives the Supreme Court judicial review. You may say it doesn't, but nobody cares what you think.

You keep "studying the law", whatever that means (I assume it means listening to Rush Limbaugh). After you've been to and taught at a law school for a few years, maybe your opinion will mean something more than the average uneducated citizen's (whose opinion means absolutely nothing).

SnakeFist 7 years, 7 months ago

I'll save you the trouble of telling him he's wrong, I'll walk down the hall and tell him myself.

KSManimal 7 years, 7 months ago

You've fallen far short, Liberty One.

The original accusation was that the Obama administration had taken rights away....having "shredded the constitution". Snakefist asked you to name even one freedom guaranteed by the constitution that has been taken away.

You list a bunch of court cases....trying to look smart. Let's look at the dates of those cases, in order you listed them: 2003, 1934, 1996, 1944, 2003, 1976, 2005, 1954, 1978, 2002, 1934, 1935.

Can you explain: 1) how the Obama administration is at fault for anything that happened prior to its existence? and 2) how it is you believe the fact that the courts hear cases....which is exactly what courts are for, you know that little "checks and balances" thing......proves that the US Constitution has been undermined in any way?

I'm waiting.....

Flap Doodle 7 years, 7 months ago

All power to the soviets! (oops, that was bozo's next line, sorry)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

It's a good thing your comments are short, snap-- otherwise your bill for straw would be enormous.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

I can see that your investment in 10,001 Overused Cliches is really paying off for you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

"If he is elected again, I'll choke and gag and collapse right in my tracks."

Well, we all have at least one good reason to vote for him in 2012.

geekyhost 7 years, 7 months ago

I'm still sickened that the JW is letting your epithet of a username pass unchallenged. I thought that was against policy.

Oreo (US) A racial slur for being black on the outside and white on the inside, hinted by the appearance of an Oreo cookie. Or a person who half black/half white.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

No he didn't.

All he said was that Obama had a good chance of being elected, partly because he wasn't very dark-skinned and spoke well.

geekyhost 7 years, 7 months ago

Harry Reid isn't posting on this board.

remember_username 7 years, 7 months ago

All the above sweeping generalizations being drawn from a lunch time inquiry of a handful of co-workers. Brilliant! Your sad discovery may simply be a case of selective memory on the part of your co-workers rather than a disregard of the subject by the curriculum. This is much more likely considering a quick look at a few regional public schools curricula. This is not a left vs right issue in spite of the need of some people to make it so.

It is the nature of people to remember over the long term what they care about. So if you want to consider discouraging mealtime epiphanies think about how few care enough about the Constitution to reconsider the document in adulthood.

tomatogrower 7 years, 7 months ago

True, it's doesn't make them money and it isn't sports or in People magazine, so why would most people consider it important? Sad, but true.

Brent Garner 7 years, 7 months ago

Actually, remember_username, this was only the most recent unscientific survey I have conducted. I routinely ask groups of associates if they have read the Constitution fully or the Declaration of Independence. To date the majority answer has been negative and the trend seems to be that they do not recall it being taught at the schools they attended. I acknowledge that this is not a scientific poll, just a personal one. What saddens me is that so few of the people I have spoken with have ever taken the time to read these documents whether it was in school or out of school. I do believe if we had a population better educated/informed of the principles embodied in these documents, then we would have a more politically involved population and better government at all levels--local, state, and national.

KSManimal 7 years, 7 months ago

"I do believe if we had a population better educated/informed of the principles embodied in these documents, then we would have a more politically involved population and better government at all levels--local, state, and national."

STOP THE PRESSES! I agree with Mr. Garner.

Scott Drummond 7 years, 7 months ago

So the point of the original blog is that the writer made the sad "discovery" that most folks don't study or know the Constitution or Declaration, but you now seem to take the position that it's a plain fact that more folks than ever are diving in to the Constitution. Obama, of course, is to be blamed. Earlier this morning, however, you agreed with the original blog and blamed progressives and their supposed destruction of the educational system. Interesting.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 7 months ago

"Audacity of Hope", dang, that Bill Ayers is a heck of a ghost-writer, isn't he?

denak 7 years, 7 months ago

I wonder why Brent isn't defending his letter????

kernal 7 years, 7 months ago

Probably because he's working. Most employers company policies don't include personal use of the internet as part of their job descriptions.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 7 months ago

And no doubt peppering his co-workers with questions on the constitution.

beatrice 7 years, 7 months ago

This letter makes a huge assumption that if someone hasn't read either the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, then that person must not value their freedoms as an American.

Huh? How does not reading equal not caring about freedom? That is just ridiculous. I've never read an owner's manuel to my washing machine, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't care if it stopped working.

If anything, it just proves that people are so confident in their freedoms that they take them for granted without worrying where these freedoms came from or exactly what they are (or should be). That also doesn't mean they are just interested in being taken care of by the government. I can guarantee you there are plenty of these tea baggers who are screaming about all sorts of different freedoms they believe are being taken away who have never read either document. Does this mean they really don't want the freedoms they say they want?

Yes, it is sad that students don't read these important documents. However, we shouldn't read too much into it.

Brent Garner 7 years, 7 months ago

Beatrice, I never suggested that those who are not knowledgeable regarding our Constitution and other founding documents do not care. I did suggest that our failure to encourage the study of these documents results in a population ignorant of what is actually in them and open and susceptible to manipulation by those, whatever their political stripe might be, seek to subvert or erode the freedom granted in those documents.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 7 months ago

You get the Godwin Award! Now what are you going to do with it? i think it would look nice on the mantle.

weeslicket 7 years, 7 months ago

adopted?? really?? people mag? really?

Mike Ford 7 years, 7 months ago

article one, section eight, part three, "Congress shall regulate the commerce between the foreign nations, the several states, and the Indian tribes" Indian tribes being the only minority mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Justice John Marshall ruled in the Cherokee Nation's favor in Worcester V. Georgia and father of future Republicans Andrew Jackson tells all John Marshall made his ruling let him enforce it. Jackson ignores case ruling and removes the Cherokee anyway. The Winters Doctrine guaranteed pre-eminent water rights to tribes based on a Supreme Court ruling. Dumblicans in Kansas ignore this doctrine and the Kickapoo Nation in Kansas still has a hard time getting good drinking water after farmers live on tribal lands stolen in fraudulent 1862 railroad treaty.

Antonin Scalia and John Roberts and Who Me Thomas continuely disrespect tribal interests in cases these days like they don't think anyone is watching. Then they guard themselves like cowards from questions and audiences when they come to KU. Dumblicans talk about transparency and clown Obama but in truth they were and are cowards who ducked whenever possible. Cheney talking publically about backroom energy policy meetings during the Bush Administration, really???? stop the hypocracy.

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

Had to read both documents in high school and for my required college government class. Don't know what your coworkers were smoking, but it's still taught. Your colleagues must have just not paid attention in class, probably a result of kids not being engaged in school anymore because there's nothing to do at school anymore other than sports to keep them engaged, and God knows their parents are probably stuck working 50 hours a week apiece to make ends meet (assuming both parents are in the house).

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

To clarify, I had to memorize part of the Declaration of Independence in 6th or 7th grade. I'm 24. I don't buy the "downfall theory" based on the few people you work with.

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

Bush on the Constitution: It's just a 'goddamned piece of paper'

By DOUG THOMPSON Dec 9, 2005, 06:02

Last month, Republican Congressional leaders filed into the Oval Office to meet with President George W. Bush and talk about renewing the controversial USA Patriot Act.

Several provisions of the act, passed in the shell shocked period immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, caused enough anger that liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union had joined forces with prominent conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly and Bob Barr to oppose renewal.

GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

"I don't give a goddamn," Bush retorted. "I'm the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way."

"Mr. President," one aide in the meeting said. "There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution."

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face," Bush screamed back. "It's just a goddamned piece of paper!"

Republican arrogance at its' finest!!!!

Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

What's equally important as the Constitution is paying attention to the historical background of the repub party since 1980. It ain;t been pretty.

Gingrich represents MORE big government as always. It's all about rhetoric not about substance. Each time the repubs have controlled our government since 1980 major financial systems have been subject to repub fraud. It's all documented:

Which party could that be? The tea party republicans...

Think about it. In the past 30 years the repub tea party has been in involved two major home loan scandals that effectively took the USA economy down the tubes. One is too damn many but twice represents repub economic policy. Wreckanomics is a failed economic policy. In fact wreckanomics is beginning to smell like well planned crimes.

The republican tea party have become masters at putting millions upon millions upon millions of people out of work. AND stealing taxpayers retirement plans along the way.

What Tea Party Repubs do with a remarkable degree of consistency is wreck the economy,initiate huge movements of shipping jobs abroad aka the Reagan-Bush Global Economy and try to wreck social security and medicare.

Is there a definite pattern? Absolutely!

  1. The Reagan/ Bush Savings and Loan Heist http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  2. The Bush/Cheney Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  3. What did Bush and Henry Paulson do with the $700 billion of bail out money? This reveals more big lies to the USA citizens. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

  4. Why did GW Bush Lie About Social Security?( This would cost taxpayers $4 trillion,place taxpayers insurance money at risk and wreck the economy) Very good information about Social Security across the board. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0505orr.html

  5. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

  6. The "tea parties" BTW are part of the wreckanomics program funded by the Koch Brothers... well known oil billionaires. These thinkers back a tax payers bill of rights which is another scheme to reward the upper 1% which is designed to wreck local and state governments. The Other ENTITLEMENT Program for the Wealthy http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

All of the above displays reckless economic behavior that which drains the cookie jars.


Richard Heckler 7 years, 7 months ago

Taxpayers in the United States will pay $746.8 billion for Total Defense Spending in FY2011.

For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

115,392,460 People Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year OR

11,313,312 Police or Sheriff's Patrol Officers for One Year OR

13,073,435 Firefighters for One Year OR

94,722,543 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR

134,562,162 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5550 OR

282,458,396 Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for One Year OR

98,260,359 Head Start Slots for Children for One Year OR

169,116,848 Households with Renewable Electricity - Solar Photovoltaic for One Year

OR 11,436,753 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR

450,978,261 Households with Renewable Electricity-Wind Power for One Year

independant1 7 years, 7 months ago

USA Government spending Education spending 5.7% GDP Miltary spending 3.2% of GDP

geekyhost 7 years, 7 months ago

I'd like to see your math. Discretionary spending requests for DoED is actually .035% of GDP or thereabouts. Money requests for student loans shouldn't count because it is repaid with interest, but even adding it in we 'd only get to 1% or so.

50.7 billion / 14.26 trillion = 0.00355539972

mr_right_wing 7 years, 7 months ago

...and how many folks actually read all the way through their Bible...cover to cover? It can be done, there are thousands of guides out there telling you how much to read each day in order to go through your Bible in one year. In 2008 I actually did the NT twice and the OT once. Last year I didn't do so well; did all of the NT once, I got as far as the 'minor profits' in the OT, but didn't finish it. I'm trying to get back on track for this year. It takes discipline, but it is very rewarding.

Yes, I have also read out Constitution from preamble to signatures as well as the Declaration. (I'm not sure I'd call it 'rewarding' but very informative!)

weeslicket 7 years, 7 months ago

again, way late in on this convrsation.

question for mr. garner: since this lamentable interaction with your colleagues, have your persuaded any of your peers to read these documents? perhaps also the federalist papers, the emancipation proclamation, the gettysburgh address, democracy in america, the articles of confederation? have you persuaded your colleagues to read these vital documents??

anyone? anyone?

Brent Garner 7 years, 7 months ago


To answer your question, indeed I suggested that they do so. Whether or not they do is up to them. At this moment they still retain the freedom to decide. As for your list of documents I agree that they should also be studied and read. Perhaps we could add to your list some of the essays of John Locke who's thinking greatly influenced the founding fathers. Perhaps also some from Cicero who also influenced them. To that we might add the Mayflower Compact and the Magna Carta. Indeed there are probably enough founding documents/influencing documents to provide course material for at least a semester long class if not enough for two semesters. I personally think our Junior High, High School, and College students would be greatly benefited from being required to study those documents. I also believe our society would be greatly benefited.

volunteer 7 years, 7 months ago

I agree with commenters who frown upon making giant leaps to conclusions based on a lunch discussion with co-workers.

No longer teach these documents in this country? Quite a leap there, sir.

Paul R Getto 7 years, 7 months ago

"USA Government spending Education spending 5.7% GDP Miltary spending 3.2% of GDP" ======== Good point, but military is federal and most of the education spending is at the state level.

rhd99 7 years, 7 months ago

Here is a sad realization that many have not grasped. In public education's defense, many of us here who were from pre-K through 12 educated in the public schools are smart & know the difference between right & wrong. As I have seen here, we disagree on plenty of issues across the board. Here is where the "dumbing down" takes shape. We all have seen this before. Look at them in Topeka. Because of the dumb Legislature, school budgets are getting slashed left & right, leaving children with NO opportunities to grow outside of the classroom. Classroom sizes as we all know are out of control. All this aside, it seems to me to be a bit far-fetched to say the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution are not being taught in the classroom. I hope Mr. Garner is wrong, but if he isn't, then what? How do we fix this injustice on behalf of our children?

Brent Garner 7 years, 7 months ago

MyName, no where in my LTE did I assert that these were not being taught. You obviously did not read my LTE closely or read it with a prejudiced viewpoint. I suggest you go back and re-read the 2nd sentence of the 3rd paragraph. It is not an assertion. It is more of a question.

llama726 7 years, 7 months ago

"If, indeed, we no longer teach the founding principles and documents of this country, it should come as no surprise that we have a population who no longer values freedom and who longs for a paternalistic government guaranteeing safety and security from cradle to grave."

Your letter is based on your firsthand anecdotal evidence, then posits something that is based on that anecdotal evidence, as quoted above. If you are not asserting that these values are not being taught, then we have nothing to fear about this other than your apparently ill-educated colleagues.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Another interesting possibility about the "eye of a needle" story - according to an Aramaic scholar, the quote should read that it's easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle,... which certainly makes more sense.

Apparently the words for "rope" and "camel" are very similar in the original language, and it might just be an error in translation.

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