had the good fortune to find myself in line in a high school cafeteria yesterday. It's been a long, long time since I've had the opportunity to make a meal of tater tots and pizza.
I was there to talk to students about the Constitution and Bill of Rights - Sept. 17th was Constitution Day after all - and push them to think about why our system of limited government and civil liberties is important. I thought I was ready to answer the tough questions students might throw out (Skokie, Fighting Terrorism, 2nd Amendment). But what I was unprepared for was the level of enthusiasm of the students for discussing the constitutional issues that affect them most directly - they had very sharp opinions about student rights to free speech and privacy and they were excited about the upcoming election. I was really impressed by how many 18 year old students were already registered, and how many under-18s were mad about not being able to vote yet. I think the country will be in good hands.
The last time I lined up in a cafeteria for tater tots - I was in high school, and listened to an ACLU speaker talking about the importance of civil liberties (Charlie Hinkle of the ACLU of Oregon). I remember being inspired by his passion for justice and his willingness to discuss how the protections of the Constitution applied to us students. And I still remember he started by reciting - in Middle English - the opening sentence of the Canterbury Tales, which we were just learning.
I won't claim to have been as inspiring as Mr. Hinkle, but I really enjoyed my time talking about FISA and wiretapping with the students. And the tater tots were great.