Guilt by Association? 1 in 3 Fear Punishment

Bob Unruh, WorldNetDaily, December 26, 2009

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“More Americans this month felt that there was more of a climate of fear over their freedom of association–with more than one in three–36 percent–saying that they believed Americans had reason to fear punishment or retribution based on who their friends were or who they met with. This is chilling stuff!” said Fritz Wenzel of Wenzel Strategies.

The WND/Wenzel telephone survey was conducted Dec. 18-21 using an automated telephone technology calling a random sampling of listed telephone numbers. The survey included 26 questions and carries a 95 percent confidence interval. It included 823 likely voters. It carries a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

His survey revealed that the WorldNetDaily Freedom Index took a huge plunge in December, dropping to its lowest ever mark of 46.4 on a 100-point scale. The assessment is based on respondents’ answers to a series of monthly questions about how they feel about a basketful of liberties they enjoy as Americans.

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Wenzel described the issues undermining Americans’ confidence in their liberties as linked to Washington’s moves toward President Obama’s agenda.

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“There has been a dramatic negative move in the WorldNetDaily.com Freedom Index this month, dropping for the first time below the dead-level-even mark of 50 on its 100-point scale. It now stands at 46.4, down from 53.6 just a month ago

“This coincides with the commencement of the serious votes on the health care bill, which apparently imposes some harsh restrictions on virtually every aspect of the American health care system,” he said.

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Nearly half of all respondents–47 percent, confirmed there has been a decrease in freedoms under Obama’s reign. That was up from 40 percent a month earlier.

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Wenzel reported among Republicans, 73 percent confirmed “a decrease in freedoms under Obama, up from 61 percent just one month ago.”

“And among political independents, the percentage who said the same thing increased by 7 percent this month over last,” he said.

Along with increased worries about the loss of American freedoms, “more Americans this month felt that there was more of a climate of fear over their freedom of association,” he said.

Thirty-six percent said they thought Americans has reason to be concerned about punishment based on their friends and acquaintances, he said.

“An increase in the fear that Republicans said they personally feel when expressing their thoughts using a bumper sticker or campaign button was offset by a growing sense of freedoms felt by Democrats to do the same thing.” {snip}

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Nearly one voter in five said Americans are “not at all free” to speak their minds without fear of punishment and another one in six said the country is “not very free.” One in seven even have “great fear” that punishment or investigation could result from their choice of worship.

The means for the government to obtain such information also is an issue. More than three in 10 believe the government is using “scanners” and electronic records to create “great intrusion” into American lives. Nearly 10 percent express “great fear” at even expressing their own opinions.

About one in six said they were not very free or not at all free to even put a bumper sticker expressing their political or religious beliefs on their vehicles. One in five expressed the same reservations about discussing their beliefs if the conversation was in a public area. And more than one in four said they were not very or not at all free to express their opinions without fear of government penalty.

The result was that more than 25 percent of Americans censor their own expressions because of the perceived threat.

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