The First Amendment 2 Essay

1350 words - 6 pages


During the 70’s, Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, was imprisoned, shot and paralyzed defending the First Amendment. Upon posting $55 thousand bail he was quoted saying, “I’m sure every one of you are just as proud of being an American as I am. We’re the strongest county in the world today, only because we are the freest country in the world today. And I don’t want any American, anywhere, to ever forget that that strength lies in our principles to be free.” Many believe censorship is a violation of the First Amendment. But there are some that believe that censorship is necessary in order to protect the ideals of the majority. This topic remains to be one ...view middle of the document...

When others express opinions that threaten these aspirations we have a social instinct to eliminate the opposition. The concept and definition of censorship has a clear history dating back to Roman times. The term censorship originates from the Latin word censere, which means "to give as one's opinion, to assess." The modern explanation is not as agreed-upon and has proven to be a word of many meanings. provides varying views from a number of different U.S. organizations and publications. A few bluntly state that it is the denial of freedom of speech or freedom of press. Society is increasingly ambivalent when it comes to protecting ideas that are offensive, immoral or obscene. Topics like pornography, obscene language, violence, and objectionable religious and ethnic material are at the heat of the debate. But who is the governing body that determines what should or needs to be censored? “What is dangerous or disturbing to one person or segment of society may be exciting and innovative to others and perhaps just the truth to still others” (Vandergrift). We are a country of diverse backgrounds and beliefs. By whose standards is censorship conducted? Kay Vandergrift is an advocate for children’s literature. She feels that “what is needed is not censorship but powerful and thoughtful dialogue focusing on inquiry and the development of personal judgment.”

The First Amendment promotes an ongoing dialogue that challenges ideas and beliefs. It allows individuals to participate, to be an active player rather than a passive spectator. It is unbiased to wrong or write. “Freedom of speech is the right to defiantly, robustly and irreverently speak one’s mind just because it is one’s mind” (Smolla). Alternative views and opinions give us the opportunity to either question or strengthen our current beliefs. If opposition were eliminated there would be no comparison, thus no choice. It opens the door for discussion beyond what we may have even considered. The First Amendment pushes society toward openness and thus makes us more resilient to differences. The popular opinion should not be the only opinion. The minority view has proven in the past to also hold truth. Individually, we should have the right to be informed and make decisions independently.

“It is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.” The First Amendment gives society an outlet to express its individuality. It satisfies the need for self-expression. “Peaceful protest displaces more violence than it triggers, and free debate dissipates more hate than it stirs” (Smolla).

Ward Churchill, author of the “‘Some People Push Back’ On the Justice of Roosting...

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