Fyz writes: Being an avid reader of Slashdot and other internet-based media while living in Europe, it is easy to get the impression that the US is not a very nice place. Everyday, a steady stream of insane lawsuits, insane convictions, insane laws, insane rules and insane pundits dominate the news I get from the media. I'm planning a longer stay in the US to do some postgraduate studies in physics, in part because my instincts tell me that it can't possibly be as bad as the impression the news gives me. Basically, I'm hoping to get a reality check. So my questions are these: Isn't the feeling "on the ground" very much different than portrayed in discussion on this site? And are the many stories of peoples rights being trampled on something you can relate to, or are they rare extremes?