Reflection on the First Amendment

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“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”-Justice Brennan

What is so interesting to me about the outrageous, controversial editorials that come out every once in a while is how people react to them. Letters to the editor pour in and people express disgust, sometimes even call in threats.
Seeing an idea you despise being expressed calls fourth anger, shock, determination, hopelessness…at least in me. It’s an ugly experience to see something you disagree with in print or on the TV and it’s an ugly feeling to feel that anger. I don’t think people are proud of the way they react to this news but I think they see it as defensive.
Some would say that’s the beauty of the first amendment and I agree with that. But to call something so ugly, so hate-filled, so passionate and violence-inciting beautiful is cause for reflection at the same time.
The only way I can think to explain it is that everyone is hoping this violence and chaos of opinions will pass. That this riotous back and fourth is necessary to get to the ideal state we’re all searching for. It’s difficult to express your honest opinion in this time of personal PR and professionalism. I’m surprised still that Walter Cronkite crossed that line and I’m unsure how I feel about it.

3 Comments on “Reflection on the First Amendment”

  1. That is the paradox of journalism. We are expected to take maximum care of people’s sensitivities. At the same time, we are required to float new ideas in the society. Almost every new idea is received with amazement, hostility, resistance and provocation.
    Media outlets must not stop floating new ideas but they should refrain from throwing a new idea in a single go. Acceptance and adaptability to every new thing requires some time space.

  2. Hey guys, isn’t it a little too much to come from the 1st Amendmend directly to pedofiles? Don’t forget that quite some of that kind have been recently unveiled exactly in the untouchable “moral peaks” of the society.

    Frankly, the quote at the beginning of this post was my favorite in Dr. Russomano’s lecture about the freedom of speech. Does it make me an immoral monster? If you think so, please feel free to say it out loud in any media that wants to publish it. As I am saying out loud: whatever I say or do and it hurts just your “moral feelings”, you have a perception problem, not me.

  3. I’m always surprised at how free speech is viewed from outside the country. You’re right, editorials are often met with criticism and discontent. But, that doesn’t mean we should not push the social limits and norms to express and idea.

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