Yale students sign petition to repeal First Amendment

Yes, this is from Fox News, but are you going to reject it because of that? Comedian Ami Horowitz went onto the Yale Campus with a petition asking for the repeal of the First Amendment (you can see how he sells that: it allows people to be insulted, to experience microagressions, and so on), and he collected 50 signatures in less than an hour. I find that scary. Click on the screenshot to see the short video (the faces of signatories have been blurred to protect the ignorant):

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 12.21.43 PM

If you’ve forgotten precisely what it says, here it is:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

h/t: Ken Phelps



  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Who are these little monsters?!

    • Ralph
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

      Each younger generation seems to shock the prior generation. And, by definition, not in ways that the older generation anticipates.

      So, I guess it was never going to be greater promiscuity or more drugs. We’ve already been there.

      Repeal free speech. Yup, I didn’t see that one coming.

      Get of my lawn, you little f***ers.

  2. Cindy
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink


  3. Haris Basit
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Not sure if this video by itself means anything. Many of those folks might have signed it Mickey Mouse or with some other false name just to get the nut off their backs. Also, why pick on Yale. The same results could probably be obtained anywhere in middle america.

    • Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Not picking on Yale; I’m just putting up the existing video. And some of those folks, at least by what they said, were perfectly aware of what they signed.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Besides, GW Bush went to Yale, and my Republican brother did his MBA there. It’s not exactly a hotbed of liberalism.

    • Randy Schenck
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Anywhere in middle america…maybe. But does is not show that you do not have to be very bright to go to Yale?

    • Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      Not sure Yale represents middle America. These people should be the leaders of the free world (eventually) and they are unthinking idiots. And from the sounds of it, he was getting a lot of positive feedback from his signers. I would expect better from people but I have really learned to not expect it. The average person is a moron. Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Sadly, I think that is true no matter where you go.

      • CB
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

        Sorry, don’t you mean misunderestimating

    • GBJames
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      The reason to “pick on” Yale is that it has been the site, recently, of some of the anti-freespeech activism.

      Why not “pick on” Yale?

      • GBJames
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        (and now, the little check box)

        • jeffery
          Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          And why, in the video, “protect” the ignorant? Isn’t that the only way they’re going to learn, by being confronted with the fact that they ARE ignorant?
          Of course, with our brand of little American “snowflakes” today, their other little snowflake buddies would begin teasing them on FB and tw***ter, and they would feel obliged to hurt themselves….

    • Gary
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

      I’m guessing they chose Yale because it’s been home to a lot of radical nonsense recently. It was an obvious candidate. It’s also (supposedly) a reputable school, which makes this all the more embarassing.

  4. BobTerrace
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    If this can happen even at an Ivy League college in the United States, then there is very little hope that the dumbing down of America will not continue.

  5. Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of a story from a few years back where by way of examining levels of scientific ignorance someone got a petition going about the dangers of Dihydrogen Monoxide and attracted large numbers of signatures from those who failed to recognise that this substance is actually water.

    • jeffery
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

      That’s a lot more excusable than this….

  6. rickflick
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I think it would be doubly ironic and amusing if he had added a bit to his spiel about getting rid of those people who go around trying to change things(freedom of petition).

  7. Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Fox News, heh. The only thing I’m convinced of is that the study needs to be repeated. You can shame me for “rejecting it” on this basis, but there is a lo-o-o-ong history of poor and biased reportage from this organization, so I’ll need more information, such as 1) was there a standard script spoken to the study participants, 2) was the filmed sample selected from among all respondents, 3) are petitioners usually met with affirmation just out of politeness, etc, etc. The press is free to serve up red meat like this, but an informed public should be skeptical and wary.

    • Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      Here’s another one, and you can hear what the petitioner is saying to potential signees:


      • xerru
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Veeeeeeerry funny…

        • Merilee
          Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

          I hardly think of SD as a left-wing enclave???

      • ploubere
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        In this one, he doesn’t mention the 1st Amendment, but phrases it in a manner that might be interpreted as an ordinance against public disruption. So I’d share the same misgivings about the Fox News video. Also in that one, how many students refused to sign it? This could be Breitbart-style reporting, which Fox News gladly uses.

        • jay
          Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

          This is a game, which carries a serious message, but no one is pretending it’s a scientific survey

        • Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

          Free people are expected to support free speech without the need to be reminded that in the USA, this is the 1st Amendment.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t watch the whole thing, but I wonder if they ever found a refuser who pointed out the obvious drawbacks. It would be refreshing to hear somebody stand up for free speech.

      • Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Come on, Jerry, you are a scientist. I love your books and I actually do appreciate your sentiment about the need for free discourse in universities and in public, but these videos are less than informative. I read this blog every day but I have to comment on this.

        • Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

          Oops!! Website! I meant to say webiste!!! So sorry. Lol. (Keep up the good work and the thoughtful dialog.)

        • Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

          Sorry, but I disagree that these are less than informative (also, see Roolz about telling me what not to post). They tell us that some people, when told what they are signing, and knowing what it is, will still sign it. THAT is informative. “Less than informative” means we don’t know as much as we did before we watched these videos.

          p.s. It’s not a blog.

    • Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Yes, an informed public should be skeptical and wary. The public in general is none of those things. People who are informed, skeptical, and wary are far too few and far between. Which is why we get Donald Trump here.

      • Barry Lyons
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

        Speaking of Trump, this story reminds me of a bit that was done on “The Daily Show” two nights ago. Jordan Klepper, one of the show’s correspondents, gathered a bunch of Trump supporters (about a dozen) to ask them pointed questions. They all held up little cards with Trump’s face on it. They were told that if they disagreed with something to lower the card. “Do you agree with Trump’s idea to register all Muslims?” All the cards stayed raised.

        And then this (my wording is pretty close to the original): “If Trump wanted to have a registry for Jews, would you support it”? Everyone lowered their cards — EXCEPT FOR TWO PEOPLE!

        It’s a crazy world.

        • BobTerrace
          Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          Speaking of Trump…

          Let’s not.

        • Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

          The reminds me of an incident from the last time that Ron Paul for the GOP Presidential nomination, NPR had a recording from a rally.

          A reporter asked Paul if, a young person decided not to get medical insurance; but later became deathly ill and showed up at the hospital needing assistance to avoid death, should the hospital treat that person even though they chose not to be able to pay the bills. {Paul was campaigning against any sort of group coverage of medical costs.]

          Paul hemmed and hawed and more or less wouldn’t answer.

          One of his supporters form the crowd answered for him, “let him die!”

          • Historian
            Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

            I have thought about the scenario you have described. It seems to me that if a person has had the opportunity to purchase health insurance such as through the Affordable Care Act, can afford to pay the premiums, and consciously chooses not to make the purchase, out of a refusal to pay the premium because he wants to spend the money on other things or out of a principle (doesn’t want the government to tell him what do) then that person is aware of the risks when getting sick. If he can’t get financial help from family, friends, or private charity then no, the hospital should not treat him without payment. The person is a fool, but as the Republicans so often like to say, it’s all about personal responsibility.

            I am a liberal, but in this not case not a bleeding heart one.

            • Ralph
              Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

              It’s monstrous to suggest that this person should be allowed to die; and unfair that he should be allowed to exploit this knowledge of society’s humanity by refusing to pay his fair share.

              The sensible conclusion, reached by virtually all civilized countries except the US, is that basic healthcare is a fundamental human right that should be free at the point of service, and that costs should be met from mandatory general taxation, not optional insurance.

              The US healthcare system is utterly broken. Even among those who can afford it, it does benefit from the operation market forces and competition, because it’s impossible to get a clearly-stated price quoted for even straightforward healthcare services.

              The ideology that opposes universal healthcare in the US is utterly moronic, but ideology is beside the point now. Pragmatically, the US model does not work on any financial or ethical measure.

              I’m delighted to hear the Colorado is having a referendum next year on moving to a single-payer system. I’m not sure of the details, but it’s a first step in the right direction.

              • Randy Schenck
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

                I could not have said it better, but I’m glad that you did.

              • Historian
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

                Yes, we should have mandatory universal health care, and, yes, it should be paid for out of general tax revenue. I couldn’t agree more. But, we don’t have that system, so let’s get real in the here and now. What would you propose to do if millions of people follow the lead of our hypothetical person and refuse to buy insurance when it is offered to them, which they can afford and then expect, in effect, free health care when they get sick? You say such actions are unfair. But, you failed to say how you would solve this problem, which could cost society many billions and jack up the health costs of people who follow the rules. Remember, I’m talking about the system we have now — not the one we would like to see. Also remember that our hypothetical person is aware of the risks when he refuses to buy the insurance.

              • Ralph
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

                “you failed to say how you would solve this problem”

                I told you the solution, and evidently you agree.

                If the realpolitik is that there is no political will to implement the solution, then there WILL be bad and worsening consequences. I don’t have a magical solution that can fix the system without fundamental change.

                But if you must, given the current bad system, if the only two possible outcomes are
                (1) An unfair financial burden on some;
                (2) A de facto death penalty for minor financial irresponsibility.

                Then, okay, I’m probably going with (1).

                But the blame for this injustice lies squarely with the right wing who refuse to accept the need for thorough reform to a Canadian or UK-style healthcare system.

              • rickflick
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

                Here’s your answer – film those bastards who won’t buy insurance getting thrown out of the emergency room. Keep the cameras rolling as the writhe and scream on the pavement. Watch as blood gushes and vomit flies. Once dead, pan over to the sympathetic nurse standing by watching, twiddling her stethoscope. She turns to the camera…
                “This”, she says sadly but sternly, “is what can happen if you don’t get insured. Please buy insurance and avoid troubling everyone with your financial problems.”
                Play this often on TV and post it on Youtube. See enrollment jump.

              • Historian
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

                Ralph, where I would disagree with you is that I don’t think our hypothetical person is committing a minor financial indiscretion. If this person had an extended hospital stay, the bill could be more than a million dollars, which everybody else would be paying.

                Our person is the true example of a social parasite who willfully is playing the system. He knows that he will not be able to pay a major hospital bill without insurance that he could afford, but he refuses to do so. He knows the financial consequences of a major illness, but doesn’t care because he has not intention to pay the bill. You and I and everybody who does the right thing are his potential dupes. He and the millions of others who may follow his lead are major contributors to the terrible system we now have. So, I don’t like this person and unlike you, I have little sympathy for him.

                So, once again, yes, universal health care paid for out of general tax revenue is something I wholeheartedly support. It would fix the scenario discussed here. But, until that great day happens, hard decisions have to made within the boundaries of the current system.

              • Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:17 pm | Permalink


              • Ralph
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

                I’m sorry, buy can’t just tell me realpolitik precludes reform, and then blame me for choosing the best of a set of bad outcomes from the current system! The blame for those bad outcomes lies squarely with those (mostly Republicans) who refuse to countenance reform.

                Do I have “sympathy” for social cheats? No, but I think the imposition of the death penalty for minor financial misdeeds to prove some libertarian point is a little harsh. Especially when is those same libertarian f***withs are so adamantly opposed to a sensible healthcare system in the first place.

                Your “million dollar” argument is bogus. This hypothetical miscreant has cheated society out of his insurance premiums, that’s all. The whole point of an insurance system, whether private or state run, is that rare large expenditures are met from the insurance pool.

              • Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

                And +1 for your subsequent response to historian.

              • Ralph
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

                As it happens, I’m not so adamantly opposed to the death penalty (in principle) as Jerry and many others on here. But I can’t believe that I’m seriously debating somebody on the merits of the death penalty for health insurance evasion.

                I guess I just don’t appreciate all that true Freedom entails.

              • Historian
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

                Ralph, I will conclude my discussion with you in reference to your 9:21 P.M. posting. You wrote three paragraphs. The first is true, but irrelevant to how we deal with the current system. In the second, you continue to state that refusal to buy insurance is a minor misdeed. I respectfully continue to disagree. If only a handful of people refused to buy insurance, this discussion would be academic. But, if millions refused, the impact both financially and on the rule of law on society would be quite negative. If our hypothetical person is a libertarian then he knows the consequences of living up to his principles. Finally, in regard to your third paragraph where you mention the insurance pool, where do you think the money in this pool is ultimately derived from? It comes from us.

              • Pali
                Posted December 19, 2015 at 3:37 am | Permalink

                Until we implement the death penalty for financial malpractice that costs society millions, it is pure classism to suggest we impose a de facto death penalty on people who don’t buy health insurance. These are never rich people – they are always, ALWAYS poor or lower middle class people who feel they need money in their pockets more than they need health insurance they don’t need right now.

                You seem to think that there are a ton of people around who think “I can afford healthcare, but as long as I’m dying people will pay for it anyways, so I won’t bother.” Seriously? I’ve never met a single poor person who didn’t want health care – I’ve met hundreds who, even with the ACA, feel they can’t afford it and put buying in off until they think they’ll need it.

              • Diane G.
                Posted December 19, 2015 at 4:41 am | Permalink

                Ralph, thank you for expressing so eloquently the true moral dimensions of this “hypothetical” scenario. (Unfortunately, it’s one that confronts far too many real people making tough decisions.)

                Historian, more than once you’ve stated, “But, if millions refused, the impact both financially and on the rule of law on society would be quite negative.” No doubt it would; unfortunately it may take that sort of crisis before the majority of the public starts demanding national health care. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what we have to go through. I hope the populace comes to its senses before that, though.

                As to your characterizing the denial of health care as the victim “committing suicide”–I’m afraid you’re missing a salient point here. Suicide committers want to die.

              • rickflick
                Posted December 19, 2015 at 7:25 am | Permalink

                Vote for Bernie!

            • Historian
              Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

              I will make one more comment because I consider your continual use of the term “death penalty” as an incorrect characterization of the situation. If a person refuses to buy health insurance that he can afford and ultimately dies because of this then suicide is the proper term to refer to what happened to him. And I believe that a person has the right to take his own life if that decision is made when the person is in control of his rational faculties.

              • pali
                Posted December 19, 2015 at 4:24 am | Permalink

                You keep saying “that he can afford.” Define that please.

              • Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:38 am | Permalink

                Is suicide the proper term for someone who went to move their car to different parking spot, didn’t think a seatbelt was necessary, but got hit by someone else who was speeding?

                Is suicude the proper term for someone who was cleaning her gun and forgot to check if it was loaded?

            • Historian
              Posted December 19, 2015 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

              I like the analogy to Russian Roulette. The person spins the cylinder of the gun and hopes he doesn’t kill himself, i.e., commit suicide. The person who doesn’t buy health insurance when he can afford it is playing a form of Russian Roulette. He hopes he never gets a serious illness, thereby saving the premium costs, but if he does he get sick, he is in a serious financial condition. I do not believe society should subsidize such gamblers.

              By the way, in the hypothetical example, a person can afford buying insurance if he has the ability to pay premiums, co-pays, and co-insurance while still being able to pay for the other necessities of life. Thus, commenters who talked about the inability of poor people to get insurance, to the extent that this is true (many are on Medicaid), is totally irrelevant to the discussion here.

              • Posted December 20, 2015 at 4:27 pm | Permalink


                Those afflicted with libertarian values who opt out of insurance may show poor judgment, but it is too extreme to punish poor judgment with death. Very few people have the capacity to place themselves fully in the counterfactual reality of what it would be like to find themselves in an accident or with cancer. How could one know what one would want should such things happen in the future? The mindset of the person who is sick or traumatized is difficult to predict, but I bet that most who are sick and hurt want help and want to live. Libertarians may not have a good grasp of how’d they’d respond or maybe they are in denial about the possibility of such events. It’s cruel to punish them for this. As such, not granting them access to health care because they’ve evaded health insurance is closer to the death penalty than suicide.

                With regard to lots of people opting out of health insurance and the pressure that would put on our current broken system, I agree with Diane’s words: “unfortunately it may take that sort of crisis before the majority of the public starts demanding national health care. If that’s what it takes, then that’s what we have to go through. I hope the populace comes to its senses before that, though.”

                I don’t know how to do it, but maybe we should demand national health care. Maybe we could all opt out in one large protest. That would be an awesome instantiation of the voice of the People for the People. I’d say let’s do this, but I’m also aware that the unintended consequences of doing so are predictability worrisome, and the ethical, cost-benefit analysis may not justify the immediate harms. It would be interesting to develop the conceptual framework for this, though, and plan for how to minimize or mitigate expected harms. . .

        • Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          The Trump people long for the good old days when ‘Murica could throw its weight around unimpeded by international organizations, and wimmin and [dark skinned people] “stayed in their places”.

          Trump is the schoolyard bully writ large.

          • Barry Lyons
            Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

            He is (the schoolyard bully writ large).

          • Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            I’d object. With the current US president who would never defy international organizations where terror states have veto rights, Syria is now a killing ground, Europe is flooded with refugees, and Russia is grabbing land. I also don’t see dark-skinned Americans to be happy under Obama’s presidency – if they are, they do not show any sign of it.

            • Torbjörn Larsson
              Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

              Europa is not “flooded with refugees”.

              The global pop of refugees is 60 M. Of the 1/3 = 20 M that isn’t refugees within their own nation, ~ half or 10 M are Asian. Of those 6 M are Syrians, out of which 5.5 M are flooding the neighboring Asian nations. About 0.6 M had entered Europe as of 2014.

              The problem is that Europe won’t help because it lowers the average standard of populations if too many are coming. I.e. Sweden can care for 0.1 M, but when it looked to become over 0.2 M tax money had to be invested. (Because a refugee needs some investment before getting employment and expanding the economy.) Poor us (not really)!

              • Torbjörn Larsson
                Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

                I meant _new_ tax money. Earlier swedish politicians did what they usually do, they diverted aid money.

              • Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

                You are right that some Asian countries are much more flooded than Europe. My mode of whining betrays Euro-centrism and a feeling of entitlement to a good life protected by America, a typical European feeling.
                However, non-Europeans are driving closer to us in this respect. A Libyan friend of mine once joked that, because all people in the world are affected by US policy, the US presidential elections must be global. (Like me, she had deep distrust to Obama right from the beginning, though for different reasons.)

            • Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

              “…they do not show any sign of it.”

              What do you mean by that?

              • Posted December 19, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

                Ferguson and Baltimore.

              • Posted December 19, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

                Are you suggesting that black Americans might’ve been ok with those murders if only someone else was president?

              • Posted December 19, 2015 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

                Killings by police, even when they seem unjustified, rarely lead to riots. Every single analysis of the events in Ferguson and Baltimore I’ve read regards the riots as expressions of accumulated grievances, or at least of lost hopes.

              • Posted December 19, 2015 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

                Even if I grant, for the sake of argument, what you’ve just written, you’re still left with the task of supporting the point I originally questioned: how s it specifically Obama’s fault?

                I currently have lots of grievances. Obama is currently the president. Am I to conclude that he is responsible for them all? The fact that some people have grievances doesn’t automatically mean the president has failed them. Indeed, what exactly *is* Obama supposed to do about the actions of violent, authoritarian racists? Are you going to suggest some kind of Minority Report solution?

              • Ralph
                Posted December 19, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

                “I currently have lots of grievances. Obama is currently the president. Am I to conclude that he is responsible for them all?”

                This sounds like one of the questions on the Tea Party admissions test.

              • Posted December 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

                My original remark that black Americans don’t seem happy now (with Pres. Obama) was just to imply that I do not see any reason to think that they will be worse off with another president.
                Of course, a strongly “pro-life” president will hurt black women who need an abortion.

              • Posted December 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

                “The fact that some people have grievances doesn’t automatically mean the president has failed them.”

                It doesn’t mean that he has failed them, just that he has not fulfilled the hopes they may have put on him.
                Disadvantaged groups often hope that, if one of them assumes a position of power, their lot will improve. It rarely works this way. E.g. I don’t think that the plight of Pakistani women improved significantly under Bhutto.

        • jay
          Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          In that case they scored better than some liberals regarding Israel.

    • Sastra
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      I would be very interested to see the same study repeated at a more “conservative” venue — one where FOX viewers would expect people like them to overwhelmingly refuse to sign such a petition. I don’t know — a Republican convention? A “Right to Life” rally? Something like that.

      Have the petitioner dress to blend in, relaxed and explaining his request in the same comfortable tones of someone who expects to find support, not an argument. Give the same rationales — such as the need to protect people hearing things they don’t agree with — and allow the participants to mentally frame it the way they want.

      I suspect the number of “Repeal the First Amendment” signers would be even higher — but that’s just a guess. Because part of the problem with this test may have to do with what happens when people are casually asked to help out someone who seems to be in their tribe. There may be additional problems, but without a control group or even a comparison with people who might be considered very different I’m not sure we can draw strong conclusions about much.

      It also just occurred to me that a number of folks might not have been paying a lot of attention and simply assumed it was for repealing the Second Amendment instead of the First. That would be more expected on campus. A lot of the same vague expressions about not ‘hurting’ people would still apply. That’s careless and perhaps a bit stupid, but in a different way.

      Sort of like when women signed petitions hip-looking women carried around for ending women’s “suffrage,” presumably mistaking it for something about abuse.

  8. Merilee
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink


  9. ploubere
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    At my school, we have a Constitution Day, one event of which which features the entire document read aloud by faculty and students in front of our college. We also distribute copies of it for use in relevant classes, and display the 1st Amendment in hallways. We also have an endowed chair, the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies.
    I would hope our students would do better.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      That is wonderful. On the other hand, if the reading is done every year, I imagine it could get a bit tedious. I’d opt for a discussion by experts on various portions of the constitution, just to keep things fresh.
      I wonder if you wouldn’t mind mentioning which school this is. Do you think it has a strong effect on students?

      • ploubere
        Posted December 19, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

        It is MTSU, Middle Tennessee State University, where I teach in the Journalism School.

        The reading is a tradition, and is more effective for the students who each read a section (usually as a class requirement or extra-credit opportunity, otherwise they wouldn’t show up) than for any who might actually stop and listen, which are few. It’s impossible to measure its impact, but we hope that the combined events of the day, which also includes posters and sign boards around campus, and sometimes a sponsored guest lecture, at least raises some awareness.

        Our library also has a 17-century-style printing press, which they bring out in front on that day and let students print copies of the bill of rights.

        • rickflick
          Posted December 19, 2015 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

          “a 17-century-style printing press”

          That for me would be a highlight.

        • Filippo
          Posted December 23, 2015 at 7:18 am | Permalink

          ” . . . more effective for the students who each read a section (usually as a class requirement or extra-credit opportunity, otherwise they wouldn’t show up) . . . .”

          But they ought not get extra credit if they get out and fiddle with their smart phones during the reading. They could read the U.S. constitution on their device, on their own time, if they really were interested, eh?

          I think it especially good to have a public reading of that part of the constitution regarding 3/5 of a person.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    These poor little lambs have lost their way … baa! baa! baa!

    They’re little black sheep who have gone astray … baa! baa! baa!

    • Filippo
      Posted December 23, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      ” . . . Gentlemen songsters off on a spree,

      Doomed from here to eternity . . . .”

      Also gentlewomen, IICR since 1969 and Title IX. A result of Yale receiving federal money, I gather.

      Are there “The Whiffenpoof Song” lyrics with which some at Yale ought to have a problem?

      Other universities have separate women’s and men’s chorales. Perhaps also at Yale. But I presume that can’t happen with the Yale Glee Club because it is the Yale Glee Club, it is “famous.”

      Shouldn’t a male be allowed to join the Women’s Chorus? A female The Whiffenpoofs and Spizzwinks?

  11. Mark Reaume
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of Rick Mercer’s Talking to Americans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talking_to_Americans

    Except less funny.

    • jeffery
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

      Here’s George Carlin’s take on “stupid people” (a bit dated, but I’m sure most people here will remember one of our worst ex VPs):

      • Ralph
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

        “Think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that.”


      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 18, 2015 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

        “one of our worst ex VPs” — You & George talkin’ about that potatoe-head from Indiana?

        • Filippo
          Posted December 23, 2015 at 7:49 am | Permalink

          Would Theodore Roosevelt be among that group?

          Not a few sing his praises (Great White Fleet and all that), but I view him as a spoiled, entitled banty rooster and popinjay.

          (I guess that borders on ad hominem, but then TR uttered that pure-as-the-driven-snow sentiment about Thomas Paine, “filthy little atheist.”)

          Why couldn’t he simply have left the Filipinos alone after the Spanish American War? (IIRC, McKinley wanted to “Christianize” them; I gather that almost 400 years of Catholicism wouldn’t cut it.) I grant his positive affect re: conservation but, Cheneyesque, IIRC he himself was on the committee selecting the figures to be chiseled into Mount Rushmore.

  12. dd
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    It’s the right wing media that covers these campus PC shenanigans far more than the left.

    So do bloggers like Dr. Coyne, Rod Dreher at the American Conservative, and Eugene Volokh.

    Much of the left-wing media tends to shy away because it discredits their social weltanschauung.

    BTW, I take it that all of you saw this, which was pubished on Dr. Volokh’s blog hosted by the Washington Post. (And notice that I didn’t say that left-wing media are silent on these issues….)


    • DrBrydon
      Posted December 18, 2015 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

      LOL, I hadn’t seen that, yet. Sad, though, I would have thought that those “Tips for dealing with families” would have already been taught as part of classroom discussions, and not come in as part of Food Service.

  13. Roan Ridgeway
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Clowns to the left me jokers to the right
    Here I am stuck in the middle with you.

  14. Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    It is possible to word almost anything in a way that cloaks what the presenter truly intends. Many people do not take enough time evaluating what is being presented to them to make a reasoned choice. I don’t believe that Yale, eastern seaboard universities, American universities, or any other venue, is free of this potential threat.

    Remember also that many of our most prestigious universities started as religious schools intended to produce ministers. Many of them still produce students that think they are better equipped to make decisions for the rest of us without our input. Consider Skull and Bones, etc.

  15. Posted December 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    Just suppose someone went around American shopping malls asking for signatures on a constitutional amendment that only Christians could be President (no Muslims or atheists).

    What fraction of the populace might sign?

  16. dd
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I think that commenters echoing the thought “hey lots of people would do this or that….” forget that this is Yale University and its students that’s at issue in this video.

    They are the elite of the elite on their way most likely to actualizing that status.

  17. John Conoboy
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I watched a bit of aboth videos, but not all. In the parts I watched, I did not see anything that showed what the political leanings of the signers are. Both imply that they are all liberals, but that may not be the case.

  18. Benjamin
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Not Yale-related, but on a similar topic, here’s a petition to get the UK’s National Union of Students to reform their anti-free speech “safe space” policies (the one that was almost used to have Maryam Namazie banned from Goldsmiths University in London):


    They’re only 50 supporters away from their goal of 2500 signatures, so I’m sure they’d be extremely grateful for any help!

  19. Posted December 18, 2015 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    The whole thing is kinda flakey and certainly Fox-newsy. How many people did not sign? How many signed to get the kooky petitioner off their back? How many realized what they were signing would later be misinterpreted as being against the 1st Amendment?

    Carl Kruse

    • Shwell Thanksh
      Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      That’s the wonder of Faux News! You know it is 99% bullsh!t, but it’s just possible this is part of the 1% that isn’t.

  20. Posted December 18, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised that so many people here are taking this video at face value. Where is your media literacy?

    Go back and watch the video carefully, and this time think about whether it lives up to its billing — whether it actually shows what it is described as showing.

    Look closely at each separate shot, and think hard about what conclusion you can draw from that shot.

    For example, look for evidence that what the people signed was in fact a petition to repeal the First Amendment, or that what they were supposedly agreeing with was a statement that the First Amendment should be repealed.

    Ask yourself if it’s paranoid to wonder whether the reason the faces were blocked out was to protect against libel suits by people claiming that the video presented a misleading picture of what happened.

    In short, ask yourself what reason there is to think that the video isn’t a manipulative and misleading and sleight-of-hand act. Use the same skepticism you use when someone points to something and calls it evidence that God exists.

    Who knows, maybe those people really did sign a petition to repeal the First Amendment. But this video certainly doesn’t show that they did.

  21. Diane G.
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 4:54 am | Permalink


  22. Posted December 19, 2015 at 6:11 am | Permalink

    I’d be curious about the university level attained by each of the signers. When I was in first year, I was greener than Kermit the frog.

    I also wonder if the results are not a reflection of the superficiality of pre-university education and the fast pace of modern life, and perhaps an indicator of the fears, confusion, lack of critical thought and understanding, and pressures facing young people today.

  23. Kurt Helf
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Yes, and…? What, exactly, is this video trying to show? I’ll wager this could be done on any college campus, on any street, in any city, with any age group, of any political stripe.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

      I agree.

      I thought from the headline it was a petition initiated by Yale students – which would have been appalling.

      The reality is not quite as bad as that, though it’s hard to judge from the available data. We don’t know how selective Faux News was in what they showed. Some people will sign anything, some may have signed it just to get rid of the reporter, a few might, on reflection and weighing up the pros and cons, actually agree with the petition, and some may simply have been persuaded to go along with the reporter. We don’t know how many refused.

      I don’t know that it demonstrates anything useful about Yale students.


      • Posted December 19, 2015 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        Lots of comments about Fox News methodology and all that as if maybe it was out of context or something. What I did notice is that he says he got 50 signatures in an hour. I think any person trying to get petition signatures would be overwhelmed with 50 signatures in an hour (which I fearlessly proposed with no hard data whatsoever). Most of these comments seem to be trying to wish away the result.

        • GBJames
          Posted December 20, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

          Given recent campus trends it doesn’t seem unreasonable (although dreadful) that these are actual results.

          That said, Faux News is not a reliable source of information. It is equally reasonable to suspect statements like “50 signatures in an hour”. Reporting on that network is usually exaggerated, to use a polite term.

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