What the First Amendment means for Americans
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides us with a multitude of rights and privileges. There are five key components within it; Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly and the Freedom to Petition the government.
The Freedom of Religion allows any individual within the United States the right to practice the religion in which they choose. This was created to make sure that the church and state were separate from one another. In recent years, controversy has sparked in Arizona, due to a piece of legislation that allowed people to turn away homosexuals from their restaurants or place of business based on their personal religious beliefs, but Freedom of Religion cuts off and eventually turns into discrimination.
“I think that people should be able to be any religion they want, but not be able to deny others based upon their religious beliefs. You’re allowed to be who you want to be, so why should you bar others from expressing themselves?” Alyson Love, senior, said.
The Freedom of Speech allows people to speak their mind, as long as it does not harm another individual, distribute obscene material or print or post news without the consent of the administration, such as in a school newspaper. When does the law of the land go too far, or not far enough? Two years ago, according to CNN officials, a Texas teenager was sentenced to five months of prison time, due to a post that he made on Facebook.
The post, according to the local authorities was considered a terroristic threat, while his family believed that it was nothing more than a sarcastic remark. Where the line should be drawn against being over and under protective, at this point, is blurry.
The First Amendment also grants us with a few other rights such as the Freedom of the Press, the Freedom to Assemble and the Freedom to Petition the government without prosecution, which all affect us in our day to day lives. Without this amendment in place there would be a lot of the freedoms we have now, taken away from us.
Throughout history, people have fought for their rights in order to have the freedoms in which they deserve. Cases such as Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District in 1969, brought forth the Freedom of Expression that was taken away from children that had been in protest of the Vietnam War. The children wore wristbands to school and were expelled for it. Imagine if life were the same way today. Not being able to wear something that represented something one felt strongly about, or not being able to express one’s personality through what one wore. Cases such as this one, paved the way for today’s society, without them, who knows what would still be in play today.
The First Amendment was set in place to help protect us and give us the rights that we need and deserve. Many people question parts of the Constitution, but in the long run it’s there to keep our country running at maximum capability and provide our citizens with the freedoms given to them by the Constitution.