Put the First Amendment First

By: Nelson Cummiskey

The first amendment was made for a reason. The freedom to express yourself is the most important right that can exist in a free society. The biggest red flag that a government can have is telling its people “you can’t say that.” If that doesn’t make sense, then look at some historical examples of censorship by the government. The most infamous of these examples include Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, China under Mao, China today, North Korea, and many others. Now, these places jump off the page but not because they are a great vacation destination. They are and were horrible places to live unless you were a part of the elite that ran everything.

           One of the reasons these countries were such awful places to live is because no one could call out the government on their nonsense. If you did, you wouldn’t be heard from again. This means the government had the total ability to do whatever they want without repercussions. Historically, people with this kind of power tend to abuse it.

           All of this is to say that we need to be very careful with our rights. Our first amendment right is not one to throw around lightly. One may think that calling on the government to keep from being offended will be a good thing, but who is to say what is offensive? Maybe the government agrees with you one day and disagrees with you another. Giving the government the power to control what you say is very dangerous and it’s not just happening in these extreme cases of totalitarian governments. In America, there are public universities in which “free speech zones” exist. If you were to criticize the wrong person, then there could be repercussions for your actions.

           The only repercussions for speech should come from the society. You own what you say, and people can like it or not. You may have to deal with no one liking you, but it should not be the government’s job to say what is acceptable and what isn’t, because that is a power too great for any one person or party to handle properly.

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