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The First Amendment

By Staff Editorial

By Staff Editorial

Quick, find the nine people closest to you. Chances are, only six of you truly value your freedom.

According to the Freedom Forum’s 2005 “State of the First Amendment” survey, “four in 10 Americans believe the First Amendment goes too far in the rights it guarantees.” Believe us, there are times when we understand people’s frustrations with the First Amendment; especially when it comes to free speech.

When someone is saying things that are racist, sexist, or just plain annoying, we sometimes wish there was a law to shut them up. But, in the words of Penn Jillette, of Penn and Teller, “As soon as someone says there ought to be a law, there shouldn’t.”

Penn and Teller are people who truly value their First Amendment freedoms; especially freedom of speech. On their cable program “Penn & Teller: Bullshit,” Penn and Teller say pretty much whatever they want. They take on issues such as swearing, the death penalty, and prostitution. You may not always agree with what they have to say. What really matters is that by watching their show, the public is exposed to a different perspective. We are forced to think, and usually made to laugh.

Without the guarantee of free speech, Penn would be forced to say only as much as the silent Teller. In a world without freedom of speech, you may not be able to laugh at Penn and Teller’s comedy. What’s more is that we may never be exposed to any other point of view than the censors would allow.

When it comes to free speech, many people only think about protests and Howard Stern. What they don’t realize is just how intricate the right to free speech is. It affects what you can say, but it also affects the music you can listen to, the books you can read, and the movies and TV shows you can watch. It basically impacts all facets of your personality.

The Media Institute realized the importance of the First Amendment and the freedom of speech. That’s why it created National Freedom of Speech Week. Every year, the event is held during the third week of October. This year, it will be held Oct. 16-22.

The goal of National Freedom of Speech Week is to get Americans excited about their freedom of speech, so that they don’t take it for granted. It is a week long celebration of individuality and free will. Organizations and schools are encouraged to speak out and make people aware of how the freedom of speech benefits their everyday lives.

We encourage you all to celebrate National Freedom of Speech Week this year. Whether you become an organization participant, or simply go home and listen to your favorite CD, just think about the role that this freedom plays in your life. Think about all the things that the freedom of speech protects. And, finally, remember to do what you can to preserve this freedom for the ones you care about. It’s as simple as speaking about it.

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