The First Amendment needs more appreciation and recognition from the general public

Opinion

– By Kevin

As an international student from China, I always feel frustrated that I, as a Chinese citizen, can’t have access to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

I’m also frustrated that, as a journalist wannabe, I am restricted regarding what I can or cannot write about.

In the United States, however, people enjoy the freedom of speech, religion, the press, assemble and petition the government guaranteed by The First Amendment.

But, The First Amendment is seldom appreciated and recognized among Americans; The First Amendment rights are often taken for granted.

A survey conducted by the First Amendment Center in 2013 revealed that 36 percent of the survey participants couldn’t name any of the five First Amendment rights.

More surprisingly, only 1 percent of the participants considered the freedom of the press as the most important freedom that Americans enjoy.

Jim Duff, UK alum and director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, once said that the biggest threat to the freedoms guaranteed by The First Amendment is the indifference that is growing in the society.

People don’t realize what would happen if James Madison didn’t give birth to the Bill of Rights.

Dr. Martin Luther King wouldn’t be able to deliver the fascinating and inspiring speech, “I have a dream,” in 1963.

Civil rights protesters would not be able to assemble on the Street of Birmingham and Selma, Ala., and other cities throughout the South to force society to improve the treatment of African-Americans.

Pro-civil-rights-movement news outlets would not be allowed to report on countless protests, marches and other demonstrations to inform the general public to force social change.

Without the First Amendment protection, the United States would not be the society it is today.

Why do so many people not know or care about the First Amendment protections that provide so many benefits to Americans?

One of the major reasons that resulted in the indifference of The First Amendment was media bias.

A survey conducted in 2013 found only 6 percent of voters rated news media as very trustworthy.

Without trustworthiness and accuracy of news reporting, the credibility of journalism is in jeopardy.

If people don’t trust the news media, how can we expect them to appreciate The First Amendment that enables the media to report freely?

Many societies around the world do have their versions of The First Amendment, but they don’t have an independent judiciary, which the United States has, to enforce the freedoms.

Obviously, there are other factors that are preventing U.S. citizens from understanding and appreciating The First Amendment, but no matter what, U.S. citizens should recognize the significance of The First Amendment rights that people from the other parts of the world do not enjoy.

 

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