Couple things make me shake my head a little about the general thesis of this thread.
A) Everyone seems to agree that the poor (read "black") neighborhoods are content to just spawn babies and live off the public dime. I can only assume everyone agrees because no one, not a single person disagreed with Suzy's characterization of the subject of her disdain. Believe me, I live in Detroit, I know what blight looks like - but unfortunately nothing's that tidy or that easily explained away. In so many cases, what you have is a mom and 5 kids all of which are decent, loving citizens, all trying very hard to change things and make it better. But they were given such a deficit at the start the odds of them ever affording a college tuition, much less pay someone to watch their children while they cruise are just about nil. So when you use that ugly word "THEY" so freely, you are blaming 6 or 7 people for the actions of 1, which is obscenely unfair, and shows a complete lack of knowledge of what is actually happening on a personal level with most of those families. Poverty is ugly. It's hard to look at. It's even harder to stand when one begins to feel like it might encroach on one's property value. But at the end of the day if we're not humans loving humans, all this hogwash about bible passages and religion being under attack is nothing but hogwash we're parroting after hearing it on some AM radio talk show.
They're fat because we've decided to keep the fresh salads and leanest cuts of meats for ourselves and make everything injected with High Fructose Corn Syrup the stuff they can afford - and then we complain about how it makes them look.
Being in the gay community myself, I also understand what codephrases like "hate crimes legislation" means. It means laws that permit me to be a free and open citizen. I can understand how disturbing that notion might be to some people. To those, I would say - perhaps your children will show a little more maturity than you about this subject. It might be too late for you, and you and I will be gone long before this matter is finally settled in a cultured, loving, mature and long-lasting way. That's probably best for those who remain, especially if you and I are part of the problem to begin with.
B) People seem to be so ready to disassemble America as "dumbed down" ... and then a few of the posters cite where they heard about it like on the Jerry Springer show. It's possible that America only LOOKS dumb because those are the images some of us insist upon looking at.
C) It makes me sad when people blame the government, and blame the legal system, and blame teachers who choose more evolved disciplinary techniques than beating their students into submission for the state of the country (whatever that is). But if the shoe were ever on the other foot - your house was foreclosed and needed assistance, or it was your child coming home covered in bruises because beating was all the principle understood because everything he or she knew about child development was learned in a (insert denomination here) church instead of actually sitting through the classes and getting the psychology degree ... you would be the first one saying "Not My Child", or "I Demand Whatever Assistance I Have Coming."
America isn't "Dumbing Down." It's just in a period of rest where it tried an experiment. It decided to let dogma be it's guide instead of reason - and the experiment failed. Eventually, our friends across the seas ... you know, those people we spend so much money cruising to go see because it's so beautiful and peaceful over there? ... those people will patiently remind us why they loved having America be their role model, and what we were that made us so. Loving, innovative, brave, and intolerant to bigotry and racism.
It became vogue to "hate the French" a few years back, or belly-ache against this country or that country. But guess what, they still hold the family photo album of what made America the gem of the planet in terms of governance and taking care of its least. Even some of the Middle Eastern countries that we seem to so easily detest these days - actually grieve at the thought of losing the America you and I grew up with. We're not "dumbed down"...we just "fell down". When the ones we rail against the most are the ones who surprisingly help us dust ourselves off and stand back up, it will be a lesson in humility that no class room could ever teach in one semester.