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Our nation’s latest constitutional crisis

Americans might revere their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but a new survey shows they aren’t as attached to their First Amendment rights.

The 2013 State of the First Amend- ment national survey found 34 percent of respondents believe the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees. The figure was just 13 percent in 2012.

“It’s unsettling to see a third of Americans view the First Amendment as providing too much liberty,” said Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center. “This underscores the need for more First Amendment education.

“If we truly understand the essential role of these freedoms in a democracy, we’re more likely to protect them,” he said.

The survey clearly revealed a knowledge gap. Freedom of speech was the only right more than half of those surveyed could name. To review: “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.”

Readers check out disputed history

Former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ effort to keep Howard Zinn’s book from Indiana students appears to have promoted it to a larger audience.

Jeff Krull, director of Allen County Public Library, notes that all 10 copies of the book have been checked out since the emails targeting Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” were reported. Daniels called it a “truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.” Some Allen County readers apparently are attempting to decide if Daniels is right about the late historian.

Krull said it’s not unusual for a book at the center of controversy – good or bad – to suddenly find an audience. He said the same happened a few years ago when complaints were raised about “Heather Has Two Mommies,” the first children’s book about a same-sex couple.