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First Amendment What’s the First Amendment? The freedom of speech, the press and religion, you’ll easily reply. The answer to that question might be an easy one, and so is the concept itself, but it’s a difficult question of providing these equal rights to all citizens without eliminating the very diversity that these rights are supposed to allow. Much, much easier said than done. Take any of these First Amendment concepts of freedom and you can come up with a situation that makes your head spin as you try to rectify or justify the morality of it. Freedom of speech—so everyone can say whatever they want to, including insulting or verbally abusing others. Freedom of the press—so everyone can say whatever they want to in print, including publishing slander. Freedom of religion—so everyone can practice whatever religion they want to or not, including religions that decree human sacrifice. These are more or less extreme examples, and in many cases they would be illegal—abuse, libel and murder are all crimes punishable by law. If none of these freedoms were granted, none of these crimes would be allowed to occur, but we would we robbed of well, freedom. Censorship is equally, if not even more, undesirable than absolute freedom. Absolute freedom doesn’t work, and no freedom doesn’t work either. So we try to find a balance when it comes to the First Amendment, but placing boundaries is difficult because everyone disagrees over where they should be drawn. At what point is speech, press or religion harmful and detrimental to others? Rights are difficult to grant because people have different interpretations of what rights are. One person might consider their rights violated if they aren’t allowed to sacrifice humans in accordance with their beliefs, but many other people wouldn’t want freedom granted as that person views it. But that one person, as deviant as they might seem, is still part of our society and freedoms are granted to everyone, “all men.” It’s no wonder that the First Amendment has often come under fire, being subject to hot debate over the nature of rights and freedom. It’s paradoxical—people have the right to be different, but being different threatens that right. What makes America so great is also what makes it so tumultuous and frustrating at times. But if you asked around, chances are that you would find that many of us wouldn’t have it any different way.
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