December 2nd, 2014 // 9:52 am @ Oliver DeMille
“How much of the First Amendment would you like us to ignore?”
“How many lives would we want to save?”
—State of Affairs television debut
Almost every police drama and movie has a similar bad guy. The hero, usually a dedicated police officer or government agent with a painful personal past and an interesting partner or sidekick, takes on this bad guy in every possible way.
The more forcefully this great agent fights against this bad guy, the more the audience loves him/her. And the more aggressively he overcomes this bad guy, the higher the ratings.
If the bad guy were a murderer, a terrorist, or a rapist, this would be great drama. Unfortunately, however, in modern American TV and movies this bad guy is almost always the United States Constitution.
At first blush, this is surprising. But to anyone who has watched today’s police dramas, it’s no shock at all. According to most current producers and directors, apparently, the big roadblock to justice in the United States is the Constitution—with its “terrible justice-killing checks and balances, probable cause and warrant requirements, inalienable and property rights, etc.”
This system of checks and balances was designed by the Founding Fathers to keep the government and its agents from abusing the people, but on television the checks and balances are pesky, frustrating, justice-blocking bad guys that keep good police officers and federal agents from making everything right for all of us.
As I’ve discussed in earlier writings, this pattern shows up repeatedly on some of the top rated TV shows in our nation—from the Law and Order franchise to three NCIS series, and from Hawaii Five-0 to Blue Bloods, CSI, White Collar, State of Affairs, Chicago PD, and a dozen other very popular television programs.
The lesson is portrayed over and over—the best government officials are those who routinely find creative ways to ignore or circumvent constitutional rules and use government power to bring about their brand of personal justice.
If anyone is watching these programs—and millions are watching, for hours every night—then a chunk of our citizens are learning the false view that the Constitution is outdated or ill-conceived, and that real freedom and justice in society come from Constitution-breaking government agents. The Constitution is almost always portrayed as the bad guy.
This reminds me of two important thoughts. Nietzsche taught that art, entertainment, media, and ideas are incredibly powerful in society, even more powerful than government, because media, arts and ideas have huge influence on how the people see the world and what they want from their government. And, as Victor Hugo put it, “One resists the invasion of armies; one does not resist the invasion of ideas.”
What It Is
This is a huge problem for the future of freedom. If the Constitution is the bad guy and these are the kind of police officers and government leaders young people are being trained to desire, imagine what kind of leaders they’ll want in Washington and the White House.
Most people today have already been conditioned to want a government that is never gridlocked, meaning that checks and balances don’t get in the way of government agents, bureaucrats, or top decision makers.
This is the opposite of freedom.
Where are the artists, producers, writers, and actors who will teach our generation that a good Constitution with effective checks and balances is the best chance of the regular people ever being free?
Exactly the opposite lesson is now mainstream, and its influence is growing.
If you or members of your family watch television or movies, it’s important to have a talk with them about this reality. These programs provide excellent examples of how freedom is being lost—if only we’ll look for this lesson and discuss it together. Without such discussion, the wrong lessons are being internalized.
Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.
Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah