Free Speech Week began this past Monday. It began in 2005 to commemorate freedom of speech and of the press as written in the First Amendment in our US Constitution Bill of Rights.
Just in case you need reminding … “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.”
Let’s break this down in simple language (thanks to ACLU-de.org).
Congress can’t make any law that: Favors one religion over another religion, or no religion at all, or opposes any religion;
Stops you from practicing your religion as you see fit;
Keeps you from saying whatever you want, even if you are criticizing the President of the United States;
Prevents newspapers, magazines, books, movies, radio, television or the internet from presenting any news, ideas, and opinions that they choose;
Stops you from meeting peacefully for a demonstration or protest to ask the government to change something. (aclu-de. org/resources/know-yourrights/ bill-of-rights-in-simple language/)
As this election season is underway and so much is being said about the politicians who are running, how the news is reporting and how some are reacting to all of the above – this right was brought about from our forefathers. It was ratified with nine other amendments in 1791.
And while I support our Second Amendment to a degree, I don’t see as many debates/rants/memes on Facebook on supporting freedom of speech.
All 10 declarations have been protecting us all from public officials and private citizens for 227 years.
The way I see it, is it a coincidence that this week is also happening at the same time for early voting for the November election? Exercise your freedom to vote, too!
For more information, visit www.freespeechweek.org.
SUE BROWN is a columnist of the Pleasanton Express. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.