Civil Liberties of the Opposing Viewpoints series. ed by Auriana Ojeda.
Greenhaven Press/Gale Group/Thomson Learning: Farmington Hills, MI, 2004.

This book is a part of a series that includes controversial issues of today with arguments from people on both sides of the issues. Some of the people are well-known, others not. Much of the information is taken from periodicals and speeches, some from books. The viewpoints given are only a starting point to encourage the readers to learn more, to show another side than to what the readers have so far been exposed, to emphasize the necessity of listening to another viewpoint, to help the readers to develop skills in filtering information and forming opinions, and to give the readers a better understanding of their own viewpoints. There is a brief introduction before each issue, and there is no conclusion, as the readers are meant to consider the ideas themselves. These are not questions that have one easy answer. Both sides have merit. Both sides deserve thought.

This particular book addresses Constitutional Amendments; freedoms of citizens such as freedom of expression, religion, and privacy; and how our rights have been affected by the War on Terrorism.

Again, this is only a starting point. But I believe it is important, since it is not possible to have anything resembling a democracy without recognizing others' views. We are at a point in our society when there is little honest discussion of political ideas. What we have is a screaming match with those in the middle abstaining from any view and people afraid to talk to anyone for fear they may disagree. We have very important matters to fix, but it cannot be done without truly listening to each other and ending the us vs them mentality. Nobody is going to have their way totally without totalitarianism. We need to end the mentality of If I can't have my way, then we won't do anything. I believe we ought to be able to discuss things if we approach them honestly and consider the feelings of other people. It is mostly the labeling of others, as if it somehow makes them less of people, that stands in the way of discourse. I know it is a difficult thing to learn how to discuss heated topics without an all-out argument. But it is imperative that we learn, children and adults alike. None of the problems our society faces will improve otherwise.

I see this book as being an effective tool for promoting discussion in the classroom, especially government classes. It is also an excellent source for essay questions, and I would recommend it for all young adults in honing skills in discerning and making judgements. This is not the only book I've read in the series, but this one is far more important. I do like the series in general, as it is a way of learning about issues with less of the demagoguery.

related-civil rights in the United States, freedom of speech, separation of Church and State, right to privacy, terrorism, government, politics

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