First Amendment Freedoms

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.[1]

Last semester, I took the class Media Law and Ethics which was mainly focused on the First Amendment and its components. We discussed several different court cases all relating to different aspects of the First Amendment. The First Amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. It is the amendment to the constitution that holds our most important rights, and it has five components. They are: freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and freedom to petition.

Freedom of Speech says that people have the right to speak freely without government interference. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, including defamation, fighting words, obscenity and threats. For the most part, citizens have the right to free speech thanks to the First Amendment.

Freedom of the Press gives the media the right to publish news, information and opinions without government interference. Without this, the media as we know it today would be significantly different. It is because of this clause in the amendment that we are able to have things like newspapers, magazines, and the internet.

Freedom of Religion prohibits the government from establishing a religion and allows people to practice whatever religion they choose without government interference. This is one thing that makes our country so unique. In the United States, you are able to practice whatever religion you choose or not practice any religion at all without fear. In my opinion, it is one of the most important of these five freedoms because I believe that everyone should be able to believe in whatever they chose without fear of persecution.

Freedom to Petition says that people have the right to petition the government in favor of or against policies that the feel strongly about. This freedom allows us to challenge the government and keep the system in check. We as a people have a right to stand up for what we believe in.

Freedom of Assembly says that people have the right to gather in public to march, protest and express their views in a nonviolent way. This allows for peaceful protests which is an important part of this amendment. It allows us to have a voice and be able to publicly demonstrate how we feel and stand with others who agree with us.

All of these freedoms should never be taken lightly because many countries around the world do not have these same freedoms that we often take for granted.

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