The five protections of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The First Amendment of the Constitution is probably the most important single document with regard to the founding of our nation that relates to journalism. It guarantees freedom of the press which basically means that the government won’t or can’t sensor what the press reports. The press has an obligation to deal in facts and shouldn’t go around spreading miss information about people whether they are private citizens or public officials. Along with freedom of the press there are four other guarantees that the First Amendment gives citizens of the United States. The first one is freedom of speech which is basically any speech in the public arena is protected. For example, if I say I don’t like the government for whatever reason, the government cannot throw me in jail for treason. Having said that, a person cannot stand up in a crowded movie theatre and yell fire, when there isn’t one and use the First Amendment as a defense because you are creating mass panic and hysteria. Second is the freedom of religion which means anyone in the United States is free to practice the rituals of any religion they see fit without fear of discrimination by the government. It also means that the government shall not try to impose a single religion upon its citizens. This sentiment is most commonly reflected in the statement “the separation of church and state”. However, that doesn’t mean that public schools for example cannot have a Bible or a Torah for students to read. It just means that they cannot teach religion to students. Third freedom guaranteed in the Amendment is freedom to peaceable assemble. That basically means a group of people as long as they do not obstruct daily business in any way, can assemble in protest of something. This can be seen in the organization “The Dream Defenders” occupying Governor Rick Scott of Florida’s office. They occupied his office for two weeks in protest to the “stand your ground” law and the George Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. The organization slept in his office for two weeks and the governor’s office said as long as they don’t disrupt the office they can be here. The last of the five rights that the First Amendment gives you as a citizen of the United States is the right to petition the government with a list of grievances. It allows for among other things people to recall government officials.

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Posted in Important figures in media history

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