First Amendment Rights?

Hello, this is the only site I really ever use, and I like the community so I will just do this here.  I have to do a poll on the first amendment rights but, I have to work tonight so I am asking you.  If you reside in America please answer the following question, it is not right or wrong, just what you know.  What are the rights given to you by the first amendment?

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Kiteman5 years ago
(Not a US resident)

You will get more responses if you pose this same question in the forums.
Ongytenes5 years ago
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Before the Constitution there was several state churches. In Virginia the state church was the Anglican church. There were laws on the books that force everyone to pay a tax for the Anglican clergy.  Also everyone was required to have their babies baptized or be punished. The Baptists was really hit hard by these laws. In fact even today many Primitive Baptists don't take offerings by passing the plate because of their abhorrence of the tax,  but instead they give gifts voluntary.

Madison was trying to get elected to go and ratify the Constitution, but Patrick Henry (an anti-federalist) worked against him trying to stop him. The anti-federalists were against the Constitution for various reasons. This forced Madison to meet with the most prominent Baptist minister  in Virginia, John Leland,  to seek the Baptist vote. In return the Baptist wanted the right to freedom of worship.

Madison gave them his word and in the end he wrote the amendments which became known as the Bill of Rights. Note: Madison felt the Constitution itself was a bill of right in limiting the government. He was against writing a bill of rights because he was afraid it would enumerate our rights and the government would point to them and say I don't see this right listed so you don't have it. He said we had too many rights to put on paper. Like the right to freely travel, right to have children, right to enter into a contract etc.  (Which is why he added the 9th amendment which basically says if it isn't listed does not mean it doesn't exist.)  He wrote the Bill of Rights as a compromise to many of the anti-federalists who felt the Constitution didn't give us enough protection from the government.

or abridging the freedom of speech,  -   Majority of our Founding Fathers believed in natural rights like the freedom of speech in which they  come from within us, given to us by our creator. He gave us the ability to speak therefore we have the right to the freedom of speech. (You can go back to the phrase in the Declaration of Independence  -  they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights) Note  in the first amendment the word "the"  just before the word freedom.  This is because the Founding Fathers recognized the fact the freedom of speech existed before the government. The first amendment  does not gives us the freedom of speech but instead recognizes our existing freedom of speech  and restricts the government from trying to squash that right.  Because what the government gives they can also take away. 

Our freedom of speech comes with a great responsibility. If we are irresponsible with our speech we may have to suffer the consequences of what we say. Whether it means we lose a friend to becoming a pariah in society etc.

or of the press; - the public has a right to know what is going on, including what  our government is doing. How else can we make a good decision on our vote?

or the right of the people peaceably to assemble,  - From time to time people need to gather together to discuss, debate and draw a consensus. Many tyrannical governments wants the the public to be splintered up to be ineffective.

and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. - If we can not get our government to correct the wrongs they committed  then it isn't no longer a government for the people but a tyrant.  During the Great Depression FDR enacted the NRA program (National Recovery Act)  which became a huge burden on businesses. They controlled prices, volume of product,  wages, hours etc. It was a misguided  Big Brother effort to try and pull the country out of the depression. It took a couple  emigrant brothers who raised chickens to fight it through the courts to the Supreme Court which struck it down as unconstitutional.
I live in the Former United States, but I think that might be the same place you're asking about, so I'm going to take a shot at this one.

It's sort of a strange use of language to ask, "What are the rights given to you by the First Amendment?"

Saying that the First Amendment gives you rights, is essentially saying that a government document gives you permission to speak, or write, or practice a religion, as if, in the Beginning, the government owned all of these things, and then one miraculous day in 1787, this government decided to be very generous, and give these rights, as a gift, to (some of) the people inhabiting the United States at that time.

But if you're used to thinking government is some grand supernatural thing, sort of like God, or a god, then I suppose saying the First amendment gives people rights, that sort of thinking would make sense to you.  After all, the US government created the Heavens and the Earth,  and the plants and the animals, and all the People too. Naturally the US Government is also the source of these mysterious things called, "rights", gifted to its very fortunate People.
;-)

So that's the way it doesn't work: Rights are not gifted to people by government documents.

However, I can tell you the way the First Amendment does work,  erm... well, sort of.  I mean, it doesn't work as well as it used to, and I'm not sure if it ever did work perfectly. Uh...

Let me start over.  I can tell you the way the First Amendment was intended to work. 

Basically what the founders wanted was a government that would not punish people (with jail, fines, harassment, execution, etc) just for speaking, or writing, or worshiping, even if that speech, or writing, or worship, happened to irk people in the government. 

The reason why the First Amendment was created, and possibly the reason why they put that one first to emphasize it, stems from a desire to keep government civilized

What I mean by that is it is common for people to fight, with words, and also with violence.  It is easy enough to respond to words, with violence, but this is bad.  Just for the scope of answering this question, that is my definition of "civilized".  Responding to words with words is civilized.  Responding to words with violence is not civilized.  Moreover, it is especially tragic when governments respond with violence, against individuals using words.

The most easy, clear cut, example I can think of, of the sort of thing the First Amendment is intended to prevent, is the Falun Gong versus the Chinese Communist Party.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Falun_Gong
As far as I can tell (and I'm a long way from China) these adherents of Falun Gong aren't doing anything more dangerous than meditating and reading books, but the Chinese government says, "No. You can't do that. Your religion is illegal, and we'll put you in jail if you make too much noise about it, or try to spread it, or talk about it openly."

So Is there any group like the Falun Gong, except in the Former United States?  Well, maybe, sort of. The Former US loves foreign wars, and as a result this government does not love war protestors. For the most part they do not just lock these people up and throw away the key, and the First Amendment might have something to do with that.  Also the Sixth Amendment, might have something to do with why they do arrest these people, but can't seem to keep them locked up for more than a few days.

Also it is a common practice to put people who are known to be war protestors on the no-fly-list, and just to be clear that's not a form of punishment or harassment.  That's just a precaution, because people who want peace are probably dangerous, and it's simply prudent to do this, for the protection of everyone else.

So for the most part, the FUS does not just simply imprison, or gulag, protestors who happen to be FUS citizens.  Although, there are a few exceptions, like PFC Bradley Manning. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bradley_Manning

I don't know if you'd call his case one of  "free speech" or not.  Basically he leaked some documents, and now they're probably never going to let him out of a cell ever again.  If he does get a trial, it will be a secret military tribunal, where the Bill of Rights does not apply.

Another person worth mentioning is Anwar al-Alulaqi,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anwar_al-Awlaki
a FUS citizen who was murdered via a drone strike, in Yemen, in 2011. He was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Regarding what it was he actually said, well, I'm not sure about that.   He made some YouTube videos... but then the freedom-loving FUS congress asked YouTube to delete those videos.  That's according to the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article about him.

Actually the only thing that makes the case of Bradley Manning, or Anwar al-Alulaqi, remarkable and different from the hundreds of other people in the world being  imprisoned indefinitely, or murdered by the FUS government, is precisely the fact that these persons are (or were) FUS citizens.

You have to admit there is something very special about being a FUS citizen, at least from a legal standpoint.  It seems that merely possessing this citizenship makes it much more challenging for the FUS goverment to imprison, or torture, or murder you.

There is a line from the Beatitudes, something about God causing the sun to rise for the wicked and the good, and the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike.  The meaning of this being: God is big enough to treat everyone the same.  The reason I am mentioning this, is just to continue the comparison between God and Almighty Government, the comparison I started when writing this answer. 

You see, apparently God is big enough to treat everyone the same, but, in contrast, the FUS Government is not nearly so generous.  It is not nearly big enough to treat everyone equally.  I mean, imagine what it would be like if the Bill of Rights applied to citizens and non-citizens alike, or if it applied to "suspected terrorists" persons belivedtobelinkedtoalqueda, you know, basically anyone who's been locked up and rotting in Guantanamo without a trial since 2001.

Anyway, that is  the way things work, as far as I can tell.  Honestly, if you are a FUS citizen, the First Amendment is really not something you have to worry about,  just as long as you're careful about what you say, and who you say it to. 

See also, this amusing video, titled  "We're the Government and You're Not", here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvsADU2OOWM
Basically, we can say or write what we think as individuals, as long as it does not infringe on someone else's rights. My history teacher used to say, "I disagree with your opinion, but I will defend your right to express it". You cannot use that freedom to threaten, defame, or harass someone else.

In school or at work, there is no freedom of speech or press. The administrators (often referred to as Thought Police behind their backs) usually suppress any expression of any views that might be remotely controversial or differ from their own views, even if their opionons are considered extreme by most people.

It is not an ideal situation, but far better than the situation in many other countries.
Opinions NOT opionons.
blkhawk5 years ago
From a Wikipedia article:

"The First Amendment addresses the rights of freedom of religion (prohibiting Congress from establishing a religion and protecting the right to free exercise of religion), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition."

jj.inc (author)  blkhawk5 years ago
I wanted to know what you thought they were. Not wikipedia.
blkhawk jj.inc5 years ago
Well, according to conspiracy theorist, Jesse Ventura, they will not mean much! Thanks to Homeland Security!