Saturday, April 8, 2023

The First Amendment: why does it matter?


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Do you recognize the above statement? You should: it is the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (also referred to as the Bill of Rights). The words were meaningful and important on the day written and remain so today. People living in the colonies prior to the American revolution dealt with harassment and prosecution from the government regarding these issues. Once the war was over, the Founding Fathers knew they needed to ensure future generations would have freedom guaranteed. The Constitution was based on the Articles of Confederation, which were based on the Magna Carta.

The First Amendment contains basic rights: religion, speech, right to assemble, and questioning our leaders. These are unusual in that most other countries do not protect each of the mentioned freedoms: not even Great Britain or Canada. Religious persecution was a large reason for people leaving their home countries for the American colonies. Even today, in the world, countries place stigmas on those who don’t follow the “established” faith. Media outlets are strictly regulated – news is issued by the government (north Korea, China). Those to assemble to protest are arrested, or worse (remember Tiananmen Square), and woman are “protected” by being kept in the home (Iran, Iraq). As for free speech, that is a dream. Try to speak-out in Canada or Cuba against policies and see what happens.

Freedom of speech is nothing to laugh at. It takes courage to let someone you absolutely hate spew filth while you stand by and listen. Shutting that speaker up is wrong. Remember: Larry Flynt won his lawsuit under the First Amendment. Does that mean you have to buy Hustler magazine? No, you don’t, but the right to publish it exists. The same goes for speech. Why should we allow this? Because today it is a whack-job talking out loud who is suppressed, but tomorrow it might be you. The videos of young people showing up at events, lectures, school board discussions, or political meetings to disrupt any conversation against those they disagree with is ANTI-AMERICAN. Physically assaulting a speaker is horrific.

The Founding Fathers would be ashamed. This is not what they envisioned for the country. Anyone who tried to censor free speech is doing themselves a major disservice. Did their parents not teach them any respect or manners? Did the school systems attended not teach civics or real history?

If America is so awful, why do people from other lands leave everything behind in their quest to get here? If socialism or communism is so wonderful, would are people from Cuba, Venezuela, China, or North Korea give anything to immigrate to the USA? If this country is so evil & racist, why would people from Africa or the middle Eats leave their birthplaces to get here? Changing or re-writing history won’t make it go away.

Take a chance and listen. Talk to those who left countries for freedom. Exercise the First Amendment for both sides. You might be surprised and learn something.



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