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Opinions: First Amendment protections vital to society

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Protection of free dialogue imperative

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The First Amendment guarantees citizens certain rights: to religion, to free speech, to freedom of the press, to petition the government and to peacefully protest. However, there are limits on each of these rights. Although the government dangerously places limits on some freedoms, the scarier limit is the ones our peers and fellow citizens try to place on the rights given by the First Amendment.

Many have debated for years over which part of the First Amendment is the most vital to our constitutional republic and limited democracy. Each facet has its purpose, and each protects the rights of individuals that are not solely granted by the government, but given to us at birth. However, there are two parts of the amendment that connect very close with each other: the right to free speech and the freedom of the press.

The idea of having a free discourse of ideas between individuals, and the ability of the press to write about all of these ideas, was important to the founding fathers — they doubly protected free speech. Over the last few years free speech has been marred and encroached on by both the government and our peers.

If individuals are fearful to speak their mind there are two consequences. Those around them proceed to live in a bubble, where they hear no diverse opinions and nothing challenging their views. The second consequence is the prevention of the individual’s right to free speech.

It cannot be tolerated for our peers to shut us down. Threatening someone because of their political beliefs is unacceptable. It is a weak argument and only makes the person look like an uneducated bully. I have an incredibly personal experience with peers attempting to shut me down. Through threats online, fellow students of mine reacted to an opinion I shared in a previous article.

Nobody should ever feel unsafe or undervalued because of their political beliefs. While those who threatened me made me feel unsafe, I will not allow them to make me feel undervalued. If we cannot have a respectful, productive dialogue in this country about issues that matter to us, how can we expect our leadership to do the same? We must continue to support free speech and the free exchange of all ideas, especially the ones that make us uncomfortable. Fostering this free exchange of ideas is crucial to a successful American democracy.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Opinions: First Amendment protections vital to society”

  1. Emily Roach on March 3rd, 2017 9:17 pm

    This was very well-written and it makes me even prouder to call you my friend. Keep speaking your mind and don’t let anyone shut you down. I know that it’s hard with so much negativity being pushed your way, but just remember that there are so many people who love and support you.

    [Reply]

The Echo intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. Furthermore, we do not permit any of the following inappropriate content including: Libel or defamatory statements, any copyrighted, trademarked or intellectual property of others, the use of profanity and foul language or personal attacks. All comments are reviewed and approved by staff to ensure that they meet these standards. The Echo does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a name and valid email address submitted that are variable. This email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments. Online comments that are found in violation of these policies will be removed as quickly as possible. Please direct any further questions to [email protected]

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The student news site of St. Louis Park High School
Opinions: First Amendment protections vital to society