The value of the First Amendment

In the Newseum, an exhibit on the Berlin wall was surrounded by red dots on the floor explaining the issues (such as government interference) in Germany.

Caroline Smith

In the Newseum, an exhibit on the Berlin wall was surrounded by red dots on the floor explaining the issues (such as government interference) in Germany.

Hallie Fischer

Despite the recent security breaches of the White House, protests in Lafayette Square continue to highlight First Amendment rights and raise awareness for freedom of speech. These protestors, young and old, are simply expressing their views and emotions in a completely legal way, but they are often portrayed as merely uneducated, indignant masses who just want to yell.

“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.”

— The First Amendment.

Although some people may question the effectiveness of a protest, the Bill of Rights gives people the right to peacefully protest within the law and should be protected at all costs.

To experience the First Amendment in action is to understand how modern democracy is supposed to function. When standing in front of the White House post midterm Election Day, it might be hard to imagine dysfunction and chaos on the grey stone roads, but witnessing a herd of masked protesters, part of the group Anonymous, march up through Lafayette Square to the fence of President Barack Obama’s residence, is to see the First Amendment in action.

The United States of America was based on the core value of a self governing population. The Founding Fathers were passionate about freedom of expression, and without it, America would not be the country it is today.

Try to picture a restricted society where talking about a presidential decision without fondness is illegal and can be punishable by jail time or even death. This is what America could be without the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. A democratic government is supposed to be a collection of people that not only listen to their citizens, but where each opinion can be voiced without fear of consequences. This is why the First Amendment needs be forever crystallized.

Not only is this amendment a large part of history, but without it, America is not a true, free democracy. The United States of America is a nation run by the people, but if one cannot express their views on how it should be run, then America’s democracy is nothing more than a sham.  Without the First Amendment, the land of the free is not free at all.  Freedom of speech and peaceful assembly is an important part to the government; protesters aren’t criminals, they are law followers.

With constant fear of prosecution/punishment by the government for what they say, people become afraid of their own speech, creating a constant paranoia and ending the flow of creativity. When citizens are afraid of their own opinions, they likely will shut down their independent thinking process to kick out innovative and creative ideas, and instead will allow the government’s idea’s to be fed to them.

While protests may be an inconvenience or disturbance of the status quo at times, these people should be admired. They have been bold, taken a risk, and have stood up for their own rights, continuing the ideas of the Founding Fathers. This is not only a significant part of democracy, but keeps the government alive. Without strong, peaceful expression of opinions, the government will do nothing, and will slowly wilt until it is nothing.

Americans need to accept these activists, encourage peaceful assembly, and to exercise their rights as well. The Bill of Rights is a representation of American freedom, and needs to be protected at all costs.