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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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