SocraticGadfly: There are five clauses to the First Amendment

June 17, 2019

There are five clauses to the First Amendment

And, unfortunately, all five of them face more headwinds in today's America.

Here's some of the details on the problems.

As the arrest of Julian Assange has shown:
  • The media thinks there's only one clause;
  • It thinks that clause is a blank check;
  • It's totally indifferent about two of the other four.
The general public?
  • The winger portion thinks that one clause is a blank check;
  • Much of the left and right, conservative and liberal, winger and not, doesn't actually care for the central clause;
Much of the public cares even less for two other clauses.

So, first, a link to the actual amendment.

The five clauses are, to inform the unfamiliar:
  • Freedom of religion;
  • Freedom of speech;
  • Freedom of the press;
  • Freedom of assembly;
  • Freedom of petition.
Per the first and second bullet lists?

The press does often think that "freedom of the press" is a blank check in many times, not so much to libel, but to print information that is secluded — whether public sector or private sector — without impunity.

Often, such information needs to be published. At other times, it does not. The process of working through this is called "editing," something Julian Assange couldn't bother himself to do.

The press is indifferent about the last two clauses, especially the freedom of assembly. When presidents used "national security" after 9/11 as an excuse to put protestors at their events in protest pens blocks away from their appearances, and allowed political parties to do the same, national and big regional press said nary a word.

Since then, while the media has called out anti-BDS bills as a violation of freedom of speech, it has ignored that they're also an infringement of freedom of assembly, since that's exactly what boycotts are about.

Ditto, since the election of Trump, when wingnut Congresscritters have blocked alligators from commenting on their social media accounts, big media has ignored this infringement on freedom of petition.

The general public?

Wingers of course continue to deny Jefferson's "wall of separation" on church and state, including the descendants of the Baptists who applauded Jefferson. They also continue to lie with claims we're a Christian nation.

The general public has, in repeated polls over decades, indicated that it's willing to have freedom of speech restricted on national security grounds, which is bad enough, but on lesser, even much lesser grounds.

In reality, the First Amendment cares not for decorum or style, nor about upholding actual or alleged traditional mores.

Also, the general public often has little more concern for freedom of assembly than the press has shown. Many have not worried about elected officials engaging in social media blocking; in fact, wingers have often applauded it.

Finally, as I noted recently, specifically about Stephen Breyer, "librul" Supreme Court justices don't care a lot about the freedom of assembly or freedom of speech portions of the amendment.

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