top-rated free essay

The First Amendment

By tony512 Sep 28, 2005 1212 Words
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 to assemble peacefully, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The first and the most significant of the amendments to our Constitution is the First Amendment. "The amendment that established our freedoms as citizens of our new confederation." The First Amendment insures freedom of speech and of the press.

The First Amendment ratification was completed on December 15, 1791. This happened when the eleventh State, which is Virginia, approved this amendment. At that time there were fourteen States in the Union. There are many examples that show use of The First Amendment and there are also many examples that show breaking of it. One of the major organizations that exercise free speech is the press. The press has come up with the phrase, "It is the people's First Amendment right to know." One example is 9/11. The press had the right to release information to the public, but they had to use judgment in what they released. Certain news that they might release could put people in danger, therefore taking away the right of all people to be safe. Freedom is what our country is based on and we must make an effort to censor certain critical information. We must also edit the freedom of speech when it takes away from other rights that each citizen is guaranteed, like the right to privacy, or to a fair judicial process. There must also be laws that prevent false information from being released, intentionally or unintentionally. It is easy to take advantage of a person, by offering a new product that promises to do what no other product could do. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that the people aren't being lied to, and that this new product is not just a way to cheat people.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion. This is a part that is often taken away from individuals. A frightening but clear example of this was the Holocaust. Million of Jews were forced to hide their religion and to be ashamed because of one man that though it wasn't the right way to live. The U.S. Constitutions makes it so that this will never occur in The United States. Another example that shows breaching and use of two different sections of the constitution is the KKK. This organization commits crimes and puts down certain people just because of their religion. These people are making it so that some would not want to show their heritage and what they believe because they are scared of ridicule. The KKK although violent and seemingly evil actually uses The First Amendment every time they meet. Some hate the KKK but it is their right to organize and say what they feel. No one can stop them from saying what they think of a certain religion. Some feel that there should be limitation on freedom of speech but then would our country truly be free? Often, children need to have the material they watch censored, because they themselves cannot distinguish how raw the material they are watching is. Youth should be protected, as well as people of all other ages from that kind of raw material. An interesting quote on censorship reads, "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime . . . ." — Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, dissenting Ginzberg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463 (1966) There are other types of speech that also must be controlled, such as speech that borders on harassment. Whether it is on the streets, where a person is approaching others and following them, speaking their ideas but clearly not letting that person choose whether or not they want to hear that speech, or it is a person calling someone's home and speaking their mind, even though the person on the other end has said not to call anymore. Harassment must be prevented, even though it means that we abridge the freedom of speech.

Another questioned type of speech is anti-government speech. People feel that this type of speech should not be allowed, but some on the other hand believe that it is one of our most sacred rights. Though the government in question is an extraordinary one at this point, it may not always be so. That right was established to protect the people just in the case that their government is no longer safe. "The government has also protected the right to establish and practice all religions."

If someone of great power were to decide they wanted to misuse The First Amendment, it would have a big impact on our country. If you read The First Amendment it doesn't say anything about setting up a machine what will take over all radio and television so that it will only say what you want it to. Imagine that someone who had this capability broadcasted something they felt for years, it would eventually soak into people minds from its constant repetition and turn the world to believe it was true. Say someone decided to let lose over the airwaves that aliens were real and they were going to kill us all. It's possible that after waking up everyday hearing this and every time you turn on your television seeing this that it would be burned into your head and you would start believe that aliens were really going to come to earth and suck your brains out. The earth could go into a complete panic causing riots and fires that would eventually burn all of us alive. Once people find out that the only reason someone did this was to exercise their freedom of speech that is guaranteed to citizens in The First Amendment I think the creators of the constitution are going to be hated for the rest of time, which wouldn't be too long if this situation were to happen.

There is a lot to learn about government from researching an amendment. One of the most interesting is the process by which an amendment is turned from an idea to something that everyone in the country must abide by. Another thing that is learned when looking through the facts of an amendment is how tedious it must be. If there is anything that is left out, this could create a loop hole and cause problems, so the ratification process must be precise.

Bibliography

FIRST AMENDMENT

ASNE First Amendment Resources
http://www.asne.org/index.cfm?id=4

Copley First Amendment Center
http://www.illinoisfirstamendmentcenter.com/

First Amendment Center
http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/

First Amendment Foundation (Florida)
http://www.floridafaf.org/

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI)

The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information
http://brechner.org/

Coalition of Journalists for Open Government
http://www.cjog.net/
Electronic Frontier Foundation
http://www.eff.org/

FBI's FOIA Website
http://foia.fbi.gov/

Florida Government-in-the-Sunshine Law
(Attorney General's Office)
http://myfloridalegal.com/sunshine
BOOKS

Barron, Jerome A. First Amendment Law in a Nutshell.
St. Paul, MN: Thomson/West, 2004.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Us Bill of Rights " First Amendment"

    ...Mary Cathleen ThomasUnited States GovernmentGovt-2305-54245Jinnell Killingsworth | U.S. Bill of Rights | “Amendment I” | | | 2/19/2011 | | “The First Amendment” In the beginning, our founding fathers where working on drafting a formal Constitution for our newly formed country. The representatives for some of the ...

    Read More
  • First Amendment

    ...Amendment One The Constitution of the United States is an outline of the national government of the United Stated of America. It was written in 1787. Fifty-five men were there. They are known as the “Founding Fathers” or “Framers of the Constitution.” The Constitution of the United States was approved on June 21, 1788. The Constitution...

    Read More
  • Reflections on the First Amendment Paper

    ...Reflections on the First Amendment Paper Ephraim Iivula HIS/301 May 29, 2011 Kenneth Johnston University of Phoenix Reflections on the First Amendment According to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of r...

    Read More
  • The First and Second Amendment

    ...The First and Second Amendment When the Constitution was written, it was not the intent of the authors to assure human rights to its citizenry, it was written in order to set up a federal government that would allow the United States to be a self-governing entity, and to put in place a system of government that would serve the citizens ...

    Read More
  • Reflections on the First Amendment

    ...Reflections on the First Amendment HIS/301 April 9, 2013 Mr. De La Peña Reflections on the First Amendment The first amendment to the United States Constitution states that no law can be made to create a national religion, or imped the free practice of any or no religion. It also states that no one can infringe on the fr...

    Read More
  • First Amendment and the Freedom of Expression

    ...First Amendment Question In modern times we view America as a thriving nation at the top of the power rankings amongst countries. Such supremacy is found not through the weapons of mass destruction but instead in the people living in a free society. The idea of free society can be related to the first amendment found in the constitution which ...

    Read More
  • Reflections on the First Amendment

    ...Reflections on the First Amendment On December 15th, 1971, the first X amendments to the Constitution went into affect. The first X amendments to the constitution were known as the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment was written by James Madison because the American people were demanding a guarantee of their freedom. The First Amendment was put...

    Read More
  • First Amendment Issue

    ...11/2/12   Our First Amendment Issue       Being able to express one’s self is one of the most important rights of the people to maintain a connected society right to speech should be accepted to do so. The first amendment is one of the most fundamental rights that individuals have. It is fundamental to the existence of democracy and t...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.