Under the Bill of Rights of our constitution, Americans are given basic human rights which cannot be taken away. Sometimes these rights conflict with each other, causing debate. The 1st amendment causes many controversial issues to arise. This amendment gives us the freedoms of speech, press, and religion.
Freedom of speech is one of those very controversial issues. I feel pretty strongly about our right to freedom of speech. In other countries you could be killed for saying negative things about your government. Here in
America, you can call the president a fat idiot who should be shot, and not face any penalty. I do believe that people should restrict themselves to saying appropriate things at appropriate times. For example not yelling “fire” in a crowded area where many innocent people would get trampled. A very controversial issue of freedom of speech is the issue of art. Art is a form of freedom of speech. And as some British artists have recently showed us, some people have some very twisted things they want to say through their artwork. Although I do not agree with the way some artists choose to express themselves (such as Sensation), I do think that they have the right to do so. People do not have to view the work if they do not want to.
Freedom of the press also arouses much debate. This is one topic I tend to sometimes question. Although I feel it is very important for the public to know what is going on in our country, sometimes I feel it is better not to know. For example when the press wanted to print the Pentagon Papers it was a threat to our national security. I think also, the press influences people or gives them ideas. When tragedies such as the one in Littleton, Colorado occur, it is not necessary to show live coverage of frantic people running for their lives. I don’t think it was right to put that tragedy on national television. The attention the press gave to that situation also put many other people in danger. Practically every school in the nation had a bomb threat after that, and some of them checked out to be serious. The publicity that the tragedy got, gave other kids ideas and thoughts of how to repay those they had a grudge against.
The third freedom given to us by the 1st amendment is the freedom of religion. This is a freedom I am personally very grateful for. The first provision of this freedom gives me the right to any religion I choose to follow. I think every American is grateful for this freedom, no matter what religion they are. As a Christian, I have the right to worship God without being persecuted for doing so. The second provision states that there must be a division between church and state. I think this is also very important. When there is a theocracy, things tend to get very corrupt. You get priests imposing mandatory tithes (such as in the Middle Ages), and making statements that if you don’t follow the law of the land; you also won’t be going to heaven. Although I feel this way I think it would be nice if prayer was allowed in the schools. But I do understand that this would violate the separation of church and state.
All of these freedoms have been granted to us by the 1st amendment of the Bill of Rights. Without these freedoms, I think our country would be a horribly corrupt society.