How Important is Freedom of Speech and of the Press? FIRST guarantee of our democracySomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas

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How Important is Freedom of Speech and of the Press? FIRST guarantee of our democracy

10 February 2017 at 5:23:02 PM

I've been thinking tonight, especially after watching President Obama's inspiring farewell speech, how lucky I feel to be living in a country that supports citizens being able to express themselves, in speech and in the press. This doesn't mean that everyone always agrees, and sometimes others may find what is expressed offensive, but we have a right via our US Constitution.



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.

As a blogger, I also consider myself a citizen journalist and in this regard am backed up by opinions from the US Supreme Court. In the Citizens United Case, the justices wrote

.. the rights of the institutional media are no greater and no less that shoe enjoyed by other individuals engaged in the same activities"


Any effort to justify a media/nonmedia distinction rests on unstable ground, given the difficulty of defining with precision who belongs to the *media*. 

. . Do I have the right to publish information, almost always based on public information documents, audio or video? Yes, and in that regard, the Pentagon Papers decision is worthy of re-reading.

In seeking injunctions against these newspaper and in its presentation ot the Court, the Executive Branch seems to have forgotten the essential purpose and history of the First Amendment. When the Constitution was adopted, many people strongly opposed it because the document contained no Bill of Rights to safeguard basic freedoms. They especially feared that the new powers granted to a central government might be interpreted to permit the government to curtail freedom of religion, press, assembly and speech. In response to an overwhelming public clamor, James Madison offered a series of amendments to satisfy citizens that these great liberties would remain safe and beyond the power of government to abridge. Madison proposed what later beame the First Amendment in three parts, two of which are set out below, and one of which proclaimed "The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write or to publish their sentiments, and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shaell be inviolable". The amendments were offered to curtail and restrict the general powers granted to the executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches two years before in the original Consitution. The Bill of Rights changed the original Constitution into a new charter under which no branch of government could abridge the people's freedoms of press, speech, religion and assembly. ... Both the history and language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be left free to publish news whatever the source, without censorshipo, injunctions or prior restraints. 

In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must hvae to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Govenrment. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsiblities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people...... 

And, as I have noted before, Texas constitution is even more liberal than the US Constitution.

Sec. 8. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS; LIBEL. Every person shall be at liberty to speak, write or publish his opinions on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that privilege; and no law shall ever be passed curtailing the liberty of speech or of the press.

I shall continue to speak out about topics of local, state or national govenrment that I think are important, even if I am the only person who has that particular viewpoint. ... because I am entitled to publish it and speak about it as a citizen with a blogging platform.  Big side eye at bullies and cowards who apparently do not value our rights and would seek to harrass or curtail the freedoms all can and do enjoy. 



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