Freedom in America

Freedom in America

Published: Feb 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm

By Richard Minnick

No other democratic society in the world permits personal freedoms to the degree of the United States of America.  American courts, especially the Supreme Court, have developed a set of legal doctrines that thoroughly protect all forms of the freedom of expression.  When it comes to evaluating the degree to which we take advantage of the opportunity to express our opinions, some members of society may be guilty of violating the bounds of the First Amendment by publicly offending others through obscenity or racism.  Americans have developed a distinct disposition toward the freedom of expression throughout history.

The First Amendment clearly voices respect towards America’s religious freedom.  It also prevents the government from “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Since the early history of our country, the protection of our basic freedoms has been of the utmost importance to Americans.  A poem by Langston Hughes, “Freedom,” emphasizes the struggle to enjoy the freedoms that he knows are rightfully his.  He reflects the American desire for freedom now when he says, “I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.  I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.”  American’s recognize the need for freedom in its entirety without compromise or fear.

The American immigrants’ quest for freedom, brought them to our land, arriving with nothing but dreams and building America with the hopes of finding greater freedom or freedom for the first time.  American’s of all backgrounds work and fight together for one cause: FREEDOM.

Our First Amendment gives us the right to protest and picket, or strike, perform public speeches and hold rallies.  For instance, in March of 2000, more than a thousand community activists rallied to draft a “human” budget that put the needs of the poor and handicapped as a top priority.  Totally against the principles on which our Republic was founded, but they were not prohibited from their protest.  Rallies are an effective means for people to use their freedoms effectively to bring about change from the government.  The current rising up of Americans through the “Tea Party” rallies is a non-violent method to tell our government enough is enough.  STOP spreading the wealth.  Protect our FREEDOM.

Our Founding Fathers crafted America’s founding documents to provide us, for all time, our broad right to free speech.  We should assert our rights to free speech, to use them responsibly and boldly, to oppose racism, to oppose sexism, to oppose homophobia and bigotry, and oppose government intrusion into our daily lives, and to do so within the spirit of the First Amendment, not by creating an exception to it.”

The strong central theme of freedom of expression is the cornerstone of American government, culture and life.  The American voice on freedom has been shaped throughout the course of our history by the initial democratic notions of our immigrant’s desire to maintain the freedoms that we enjoy today.  Freedoms we fought long and hard for.

The freedom of speech has constantly been challenged and will continue to be challenged in the future.  It is important that we learn from prior tests against our Constitution, by those trying to denigrate our constitutionally protected rights, so that in the future, authority will not violate our freedoms or oppress our liberty.

The original Constitution did not contain a bill of rights because the convention delegates felt that individual rights were in no danger and would be protected by the states.  However, the lack of a bill of rights was the strongest objection to the ratification of the Constitution.  They were introduced by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of articles, and came into effect in December 1791, when they had been ratified by three-fourths of the States.  The applications of the personal freedoms described in the Bill of Rights, particularly the freedom of speech, have been challenged repeatedly in American courts of law and elsewhere.

This freedom of speech was recognized as a vital element in a democratic republic society.  Censorship and the infringement of First Amendment rights could not and would not be tolerated.  American citizens took a firm stand against the government and its “authority” at important times when they could have yielded to oppressive violations of their rights.

We should maintain our heritage and continue to oppose any denigration of our Constitutional rights for all time.