Video Exercises


Watch the videos below and answer the questions that follow.

Nadine Strossen is the former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, the youngest person and first woman to hold this position. Additionally, she is a professor of law at New York Law School and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. In the video below, she discusses the origins of civil liberties in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Where Do Civil Liberties Come From?
Nadine Strossen
Originally aired on March 18, 2008

What are civil liberties, and where do they come from, according to Professor Strossen? Why did the Founding generation see the need to write civil liberties protections into the Constitution?
What kind of work does the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) do?
Do you feel that the ACLU does an adequate job of protecting the civil liberties of Americans? Why or why not? Do you feel that your civil liberties have ever been threatened? If so, provide an example.

The following is a video produced by the People For the American Way and the Electronic Frontier Foundation that features individuals urging Congress to stand up to the Bush administration and prevent surveillance of American citizens by the telecom industry.

Watch the video below and answer the questions that follow.

Stop the Spying!
People For the American Way and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Originally aired on February 21, 2008

2a. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration stepped up efforts to monitor select telecom activity within the United States for certain communications that may put the United States at further risk of attacks from terrorist organizations. What civil liberties could be threatened by these surveillance policies?
Maintaining a balance between individual liberty and security is a continual challenge for the federal government. What is more important to you: individual liberty or security? Why?

In 2012, the debate over contraception was set off over a federal rule that would require all employers, including religious institutions, to provide coverage for birth control in their insurance plans. Religious groups, especially Catholic groups, were concerned because they have objections to the use of birth control and felt that the rule violated their religious freedom. In the video below, CBS This Morning hosts a debate on the issue between Father Edward Beck and Washington Post contributor Michael Gerson.

"Catholic Groups Balk at Covering Birth Control"
This Morning
Originally aired on CBS, February 8, 2012

3a. What is religious freedom according to Michael Gerson?
3b. Father Edward Beck discusses the idea of a “conscience clause” being added to the contraception coverage requirement. What effect would that have?
Does adding a “conscience clause” do enough, in your opinion, to protect religious freedom?
Do you think there should be a role for public opinion in deciding what civil liberties to grant? Why or why not?

The Colbert Report, hosted by Stephen Colbert, is a parody of personality-driven political opinion shows such as those found on the cable news networks, wherein Colbert hosts the show in character as a right-wing pundit.

“The Word—Justice”
The Colbert Report
Comedy Central
Originally aired on Comedy Central, June 20, 2007

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Justice
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

What sort of civil liberty issues does Stephen Colbert discuss in the above video? Why does the threat of terrorism present so many challenges to civil liberties?
Colbert argues that the president does not have to abide by the ruling of the Court in this case. And it is true that the judicial branch does not have its own enforcement powers against the other two branches. If you were an adviser to the president, why might you advise the president to ignore or stall implementation of this ruling? Why might you advise the president to comply?

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a satirical news program hosted by Jon Stewart. The show draws its comedy from recent news stories, satirizing political figures, media organizations, and frequently the show itself and its cast members.

“Headlines—Flame Retarded”
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Originally aired on Comedy Central, June 23, 2005

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Headlines - Flame Retarded
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

What civil liberties restrictions are discussed in the above video clip?
How does Jon Stewart characterize the governmental debate surrounding the issue of flag burning? Did you find this characterization humorous? Why or why not?
Do you believe the First Amendment protects flag burning? Why or why not?

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