A walk through campus today will reveal many students celebrating some of their most important freedoms.
The UNC Center for Media Law and Policy will be observing First Amendment Day, honoring one of the amendments most central to a functioning democracy.
The First Amendment guarantees rights that define America.
Without freedom of religion, people could be subjected to a nationwide religion without the ability to choose their own religion or lack thereof.
Without freedom of assembly, groups would be hindered in their ability to gather. Protests would be non-existent, as would unions and clubs.
And without the freedom to peaceably assemble, how could citizens “petition the government for a redress of grievances,” as the amendment states?
The right of citizens to speak their mind is one of the most powerful weapons of a concerned citizen.
Without this amendment, any civil rights movement would be illegal by definition.
Even if the government or another citizen does not agree with your opinion, you still have the right to express it, whether through a protest, a flag burning, a pamphlet, a speech or simply a controversial remark.
As author and linguist Noam Chomsky said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
And as a paper, The Daily Tar Heel would not have the editorial freedom it enjoys.
Without this amendment and our independence from the University, the paper could be subject to censorship, and any controversial subject might be simply edited out. That is no way for a populace to be kept informed.
So go participate in the festivities today, and never take these rights for granted.