Civics, civility lessons needed

June 1, 2010
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IL Managing Editor Elizabeth Brockett wrote this post.

Many folks just enjoyed a three-day weekend off from work for Memorial Day, once called Decoration Day, which is a day to remember those who have died in our nation’s service. It was first observed in 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

Why the history lesson? Apparently many people need a refresher civics course, as well as a reminder about civility.

Greenwood High School valedictorian Eric Workman successfully sued in federal court against having a school-sanctioned prayer at commencement. That caused more than a little debate about prayer, separation of church and state, and rights of those who wanted prayer vs. those who didn’t. And for the record, Workman is a Christian. Rumors and threats of planned protests at Greenwood High School’s graduation May 28 didn’t come to fruition. Instead, some people – students and adults – chose to cough and make other noises during Workman’s speech, while another student speaker’s references to God and faith were met with applause.

Ignorance also showed its ugly head. There were some people who spouted “no where in the Constitution does it say” separation of church and state. We all know the First Amendment pretty much covers it with “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.” It also covers their right to complain.

Besides the civility/rudeness factor, this all got me thinking about how little people remember of our nation’s history and law of the land. Do you suppose all the people becoming naturalized citizens know more about this country than those who complained about the lack of a prayer at a public high school graduation? How well would you or people you know do taking the civics portion of the naturalization test? I’m pretty sure you’d get all the American government questions correct. But do you remember the authors of the Federalist Papers? And what was Benjamin Franklin famous for? No, the answer to that one does not include kite flying.

It always shocks and amazes me how people will rant about rights without really knowing their or others’ rights. But how to solve that problem …. By the way, for those who wanted prayer at graduation, I guarantee many churches offered special prayers or even services for those graduating. And who said you couldn’t pray quietly at graduation?
 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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