The First Amendment to the US constitution guarantees five different freedoms and liberties. These are freedom of speech, religion, press, religion, right to petition the government, and freedom of assembly. The First Amendment is a fundamental part of the Bill of Rights and an infringement on these rights has considerable consequences. As the society changes, there is a need to adapt the protections to the new societal dynamics and ways of expression. The First Amendment need to be expanded to cover new forms of expression previously not considered or are vague in the constitution.
Under the freedom of speech, people can express opinions and thoughts without any form of government intervention. The freedom of religion prevents the government from setting up a church for its citizenry and allows for free practice of one’s religion, as dictated by the religion itself. This clause ensures the separation of the church from the state and allows for individuals to practice their faith. Freedom of press allows for mass media to operate and pass information and opinion to the masses without government censorship as long as their broadcasts do not pose imminent threat to security. The other two freedoms, assembly and right to petition the government are closely related. They are also closely related to free speech and are accorded similar protections. They allow for individuals to congregate, express their view, and demonstrate peacefully seeking to influence government action.
The constitution provides protection to these five freedoms, as long as they do not infringe on the freedoms of other people and equally do not pose an imminent threat to people. for instance, freedom of speech does not cover aspects such as blackmail, slander, defamation and perjury among others. The protections guaranteed by these freedoms are not absolute, but rather depend on how they affect the freedoms of other people and the damage they cause as well as their truthfulness and moral uprightness. In the era of technology and social media, the methods of expressions have drastically changed. Today, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become active regulators of what is covered under free speech. They censor contents and ban people from their sites as a violation of what they categorize as free speech and its violations. As a result, there is a need to expand the reach of the First Amendment to cover these media of expression.
This essay is written by the student of the University of Central Florida