Monday, May 22, 2006

What Price Diplomacy?

As most of my faithful readers and friends know, I am famous for being blunt. Blunt, but not sharp. When I am honest and speak the "saur" truth, it is sprinkled with a touch of sugar to make it palatable. Or, so I hope.

I rarely get involved in Sweet N' Saur, which is a blog I share with Michelle. I turned the reins over to her some time ago because she is usually better informed on some of the intricacies in the school system here, is more neutral than I am, and happy to moderate.

However, I've been more involved in the last week because there have been some controversial local issues which recently caught my eye.

In my weekend post, I mentioned that Sweet N' Saur was receiving a great deal of attention. In fact, in the current post we've received over a hundred comments in a short period of time. And when there's an issue that generates that sort of interest, you can be sure it also generates controversy.

I frankly believe that our local school superintendent, Clayton Wilcox, is below par. But when I commented that he was "a ninny", one participant was hugely offended. "I was surprised by Saur's comment about Wilcox. It will make him uncomfortable to visit the site..." she wrote.

I am tempted to say "frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." But I will explain why.

I believe that blogs should be an open forum. They are our last bastion of the Freedom of Speech and of the Press. Sadly, the majority* of America no longer realizes these are guaranteed in The Bill of Rights! I treasure this guarantee. As long as I'm not being deliberately incendiary or foul in my speech, I should be allowed that privilege. In fact, many would argue that true freedom of speech would allow me to call him something much worse than I did.

Clayton Wilcox is a public figure. That means he's free game. If he's going to be offended by frank opinions, he needs to toughen up or get another job.

* The McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum commissioned a poll to see how many Americans could name all of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Only one in a thousand Americans could name all five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. 41 percent could name at least two of the three American Idol judges. 22 percent could name all five members of the cartoon family The Simpsons.

Horrifyingly, only eight percent could name three of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Only 11 percent knew that freedom of the press was one of those five. Worse, many people think they have rights that aren’t even in the Constitution! Consider, for instance, the 21 percent who think that the First Amendment guarantees the right to own pets.

(NOTE: I believe I got this original material (which I've edited) from here, though I didn't save my source, since these facts are commonly known and reported)


mal said...

Scarey, is it not?

Mike said...

Public figures are fair game...even they should know this.

R2K said...

I agree. I know nothing about this specific issue, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.

Plus I like you already, and dont know a thing about him. So, you are better.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

That is scary!

Saur, I admire your advocacy, and your sense of justice.

Ed Abbey said...

Religion, press, speech, assembly and right to petition the government.

That last one is the one I find it hardest to remember. But then, I have read the constitution perhaps hundreds of times in my life.

Before the last election, I had a collegue tell me they were planning on voting Republican and less than five minutes later asked me who Kerry Edwards was, thinking that it was one person. Sadly, the future of America.

D-Dub said...

There is an article in the Times soliciting teachers for feedback. Some teachers are afraid to write in because they may lose their jobs or retaliation. It frightens me when teachers are afraid to exercise their right to free speech.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Bruce, isn't that the truth??? I think that Wilcox's quote (""It's going to make people struggle with their continued employment.")in the article is a veiled threat.

Ed, excellent! I have a copy of the Constitution at my desk (a free copy courtesy of Hillsdale College). Unlike you, I've only read it through once or twice in my lifetime. But as our rights continue to be threatened (sounds alarmist, but it's creepily true), I am keeping it closer for handy reference in debate.

Barbara, and you know I admire yours, too! Even if you are a liberal lawyer. :D Seriously, we disagree on some things, but we agree on the important ones, such as our freedoms. I respect you greatly.

Alex, ;D You could be accused of prejudice, but I like it.

Mike, yup! As a freelance journalist, I especially cling to the right to pillory a public figure. :D

Mallory, terrifying!!!

Paul said...

I guess I'm 1-in-a-1,000. I know the 5 "rights."

Did that poll ask which amendment mentions separation of church and state? How many Americans know that that suggestion IS NOT in the US Constitution?

Interesting post today, Saur.

Miss Cellania said...

You know what? Even the government can't can’t name the five freedoms!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Don't start me on freedom of blog speech, look at the Blogger bar top left and see FLAG.

Heather said...

Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa & Maggie

Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul & Randy Jackson

Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Sneezy, Bashful & Doc

The first amendment gives me the right to say anything I want, believe anything I want, shoot anyone I want and clam up about it later on, right?

KristieD said...

I totally agree with you and as far as I know, the law does too: you can call him a ninny all you want. He is a public figure and therefore has put himself out there under closer scrutiny from the public. if he doesnt like that, or cant handle it, then he chose the wrong profession.

;) And i think you do a wonderful job of walking the line between blunt and sharp. Its called tact and you have it down pretty good. People should take lessons in that.

D-Dub said...

saur - I fixed things. I think. I'm still bumbling along in this blog deal.

Ellen said...

I went over to sweet & saur and read a few entries as well as comments and one quote jumped right out at me:
"If you think education is expensive, wait until you get the bill for ignorance."

That just about says it all, doesn't it?

Michael Hampton said...

This is the source of the quotation at the end of the post. Thanks for the attribution. :)

Jamie Dawn said...

I'm not surprised by those stats.
So many people are just above brain dead. It really is frightening.

Bryan said...

True. Most Americans can't name them and hence don't know when they're being trampled upon. But, from what I understand, the Patriot Act has pretty much obliterated the Bill of Rights anyway. Warrentless searches, phone tapping, Internet snooping, indefinite incarceration and even torture is some instances, are now the order of the day, though I'm not really sure if it has completely taken effect yet because I still hear that some people are going to court over these abuses of the Constitution and still winning.

Isn't it strange how our government seems to view law-abiding Americans as being the terrorists?

I don't know if Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson ever really said this but it doesn't matter, it never range truer: "Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither"...Ben Franklin

It's great that you post issues like this, Saur. You're a real patriot.

Senor Caiman said...

Exsqeezeme Saur,

I suddenly don't feel free. But I don't mind because I'm crankin some Free Bird.

Smell you later.

michelle said...

Saur email again, not about blog.
Call me in the morning.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Michelle, YIKES! You poor baby. *hugs* Check your email.

Gator, you know we all love you, you honky.

Bryan, the Patriot Act has set a dangerous precedent. Well-meaning citizens who are cowed by fear have fallen for the propaganda, but it is a dangerous tool which could open the door for a fascist government. In fact, the argument could be made that we are currently under a (mildly) fascist regime already.

Jamie Dawn, true, very true.

Michael Hampton, NP!

Ellen, it's a great quote, isn't it? It's nice that there are many people that can feel free to blog, even considering their differences, about the state of education here. Florida has always been notorious for horrible results when it comes to students. Our standards were horribly low at one time. We are now attempting to fix it, but it's a long and difficult road ahead and there's much debate about what it will take.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Bruce, you're doing great! Next, get involved with other bloggers. I highly recommend the ones in my links. I read them as regularly as I can.

KristieD, thanks, sweetie. I came as close to being rude as I've ever come tonight in the most recent set of postings there. Even then, I was blunt but well-intentioned and I checked myself for malice. I did give quite a verbal spanking, though. I wish I hadn't had to, of course.

Heather, well, yes, it does. That doesn't mean it would be right to do those things in that sequence, however. ;o)

Daniel, I know! I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, blogger's a free svc and so they have the ability to "censor" perhaps more than if we paid for it. However, if it's free to one, shouldn't it be free to all?

Miss C, OMG! Thanks for the link. SCARY!!!!

Paul, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I somehow had thought I'd blogged about this topic before. I guess I didn't! I've been really saddened by these facts ever since the study was released. I would've guessed that you would know, though. ;o)

Beaver said...

Hey :o) Interestingly, since I last blogged I removed all pics of my face from my blog.

I want to be anonymous again. Hmmm. Could this be a trend?

Much love,


Mr. Althouse said...

I haven't read all the comments, so I am pretty sure that my thoughts have been reflected. However, I consider these sentiments so important that they cannot be worn by repetition. It is appalling that more Americans can name five Simpsons characters than can the five guarantees of the First Amendment… never mind the rest of them.

And for the sake of repetition, in case anyone reading this does not know, they are:

Congress shall make no law respecting:

1) an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

or abridging the freedom of:

2) speech,
3) or of the press;

or the right of the people:

4) peaceably to assemble,
5) and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That’s it… pretty simple. And, yes I do realize that on this blog, I’m preaching to the choir. I know you know, Saur. And in all likelihood, your readers do too, but there it is anyway, just in case.


Badoozie said...

well, it's only freedom of speech, as long as your saying what people WANT to hear. if you have a differing viewpoint, or have something halfway intelligent to say that might make certain persons appear dumb, they're all over your ass calling YOU names like bigot, racist, etc. so, freedoms only extend as far as the arm that is waving in the face of your majority's feelings.

Notsocranky Yankee said...

Wow, I would think most people would prefer "ninny" to many other words you could've used. That woman must not read very many blogs...

I'm not surprised by those statistics. Sad, yes.

The Zombieslayer said...

I have very little respect for those who don't treasure all the Bill of Rights, and yes, that includes the 2nd Amendment. Don't like guns, then move to some pussy nation like England.