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Don’t forget value of First Amendment

The Alabama Press Association and the Alabama Broadcasters Association have joined the Think F1RST First Amendment campaign, a nationwide effort to promote awareness of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

As a member of the APA and passionate defender and beneficiary of the First Amendment, we wanted to take a moment to join the voices speaking out in support of this perennial protection for the five important rights we all enjoy as Americans, guaranteed by this amendment. 

According to a 2017 survey on attitudes and beliefs about the First Amendment, A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE of respondents could not name even one of the freedoms preserved by this amendment. Just in case you also need a reminder:

“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.”

Of course, as we know, these rights are not 100 percent absolute: Hate speech is not protected speech, for example, and the government, while it cannot forbid peaceable assembly, can set reasonable restrictions on time, place and manner of such assembly.

Those caveats notwithstanding, the guarantees promised by the First Amendment are crucial to so many of the activities we enjoy as Americans.

Where would we be without freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? Freedom of assembly and freedom to petition? And, especially important to us of course, freedom of the press?

We enjoy the opportunity to share with you the information you need and want to know. We think it’s of undeniable value that we can ask the questions that need to be answered, that we can demand closed doors are open and transparency is maintained – so you can know the information you have a right to know. 

We hope you’ll join us in supporting the First Amendment. In the 2017 survey we mentioned, 22.5 percent of respondents supported the claim that the First Amendment freedom protection goes too far. 

This is simply not the case. 

Without the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment, we would lose so much of the privilege we cherish to speak our minds, to engage in open discourse, to practice religion as we choose and to stand up for the causes we care about most.