Interestingly, most Americans today—even professional political commentators—misinterpret or misunderstand what the Bill of Rights’ intended meaning and purposes were. Culturally ingrained myths about the Bill of Rights have helped to define what it means to be an “American” but also limited the range of political debate and justified unfair and unequal treatment of minorities. This book addresses the top ten myths regarding the Bill of Rights from the standpoint of public understanding (and misunderstanding) from a non-partisan, objective point of view, provoking independent thought and enabling readers to reach their own educated conclusions and opinions.
Written by two experts in the fields of political science, public policy, media law, and civil liberties, the work explores the key role of modern news and entertainment media in contributing to public misunderstanding of individual rights and liberties. The authors also apply and interpret data from public opinion surveys to further examine public beliefs about the Bill of Rights and closely connect the analysis of misperceptions to existing political beliefs.
- Carefully separates out widely held contemporary beliefs about the Bill of Rights and connects them to debates over meaning, enabling readers to see how the meaning of rights is historically and contextually determined
- Explores the Bill of Rights in the context of myths that define the American political culture
- Provides an even-handed but incisive analysis of individual myths, pointing out where both the left and the right often misinterpret the true meaning of the Bill of Rights
- Places the debates regarding rights in contemporary politics and modern society by considering the complex challenge of protecting individual freedoms in the context of a digital age, international terrorism, and ongoing threats to national security