Most of us know the basics of our rights to free religion, speech and press, but why is the first amendment important—particularly now?
An eighteen-year-old was shot in the chest while petrol bombs flew behind him. One Beijing lawmaker was stabbed by a masked man and another shot point-blank while setting up a roadblock. One was even lit on fire. Over 7,000 have been arrested to date.
Hong Kong’s most violent day in late 2019 forces us to ask what was the brutal fighting worth? Why risk your life? The answer: Freedom. The riots, which continue to this day, are enacted with the hope that Hong Kong might have a democratic system in which citizens will not suffer from indirect elections or unjust police systems.
Freedom in America means that we maintain many of the rights that Hong Kong protesters desperately seek in our 10 Amendments. These rights are also being challenged every day in the US. By looking at examples of freedom in America, including our First Amendment and how it’s being violated, we can work towards protecting the rights that have made our nation so great.
What are American Freedoms?
There’s a lot that goes into the Constitution, but if you’re looking at the basics, then the First Amendment is a good place to start.
The First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”
Sounds important, right? To put it simply, the First Amendment covers five freedoms: Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and the Right to Petition the Government.
The freedom of religion, if you remember your middle school history, was a driving force in establishing our young country. With this amendment, the government cannot tell you what religion to practice or where and how to worship.
Why protect it?
To see the importance of religious freedoms, just look at countries like Iran, North Korea, or Eritrea. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom points to the freedom violations in Eritrea, that include torture or other ill-treatment of religious prisoners and arbitrary arrests without charges. Without the freedom to practice religion, citizens are not only forced to accept a government-issued beliefs system, but they are punished if they refuse.
By protecting the First Amendment, you are protecting your right to practice your religion, however you see fit.
Free speech is the essence of America!
Here, we have the right to express ourselves without the fear of suffering from government interference. You can say you disagree with the government (even much more strongly, of course) and you may criticize any political figure or group.
Why protect it?
You most likely already know that your speech is worth protecting. But, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows the significance of free speech through Equatorial Guinea, whhich is currently under a notoriously brutal regime. CPJ states that “State-run Radio Malabo broadcasts songs warning citizens that they will be crushed if they speak against the regime.” Without the liberty to speak out, citizens remain trapped in the same cycle of mistreatment, unable to escape.
While individual cases have called into question what constitutes free speech in America, our ability to express our perspectives is at the core of freedom. It continues to keep democracy intact and protect us from potential totalitarian rule.
The freedom of the press goes in hand with the freedom of speech. This section of the amendment allows us to carry our voices to publication. Freedom of the press also protects us from false or libelous statements. This means that someone can’t purposely publish something false about you with the intent of changing public view.
Why protect it?
North Korea painfully exemplifies the importance of this freedom. Journalists found that not only are citizens forced into a Kim Jong Il mantra, but all radio, television and newspapers are supervised by the government! CPJ states, “In North Korea, all “news” is positive.” According to the country’s rigidly controlled media, North Korea has never suffered famine or poverty and citizens would willingly sacrifice themselves for their leader.”
Without freedom of the press, the news we rely on to see the world would vanish. If you think it is hard enough to find an unbiased source now, imagine if you lost this privilege!
4. Assembly and Right to Petition the Government
This portion of the First Amendment protects our freedom to peacefully assemble or gather with a group for political or religious purposes. Also included, is our right to stand up to the government when we feel unjustly treated. History.com summarized this right as, “The right to petition can mean signing a petition or even filing a lawsuit against your own government.”
Why protect it?
Well, because of everything you just read.
Without this final portion of the Amendment, we would not be able to defend our rights. Those in countries without the luxury of democracy, like North Korea or Eritrea, cannot stand up to their leaders without risking being arrested or beaten. In America, we are not only granted these rights but also the promise of recourse, if those rights are not maintained.
If you are a strong believer in freedom and an open innovative society that embodies capitalism, schedule a video conference with one of our advisors to ask them how the ‘Demand Patriot’ portfolio may help you achieve your financial goals by investing in companies that strive for independent thinking and ingenuity.
This report is a publication of Demand Wealth. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date, but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of publication and are subject to change.