Essay competition 2010

Thanks to every person whom submitted essays for the First Amendment Week essay contest. The judges for the essay contest were

  • Will Creeley, manager of appropriate and general public advocacy, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education
  • David Greene, executive director, 1st Amendment venture
  • W. Wat Hopkins, teacher, Virginia Tech Department of correspondence
  • Kim Zarkin, associate teacher, Westminster university

The winning essay, published by Kirsten Kube, a senior political science major, follows:

The actual Value of Freedom

By Kirsten Kube

“The genuine value of freedom is not toward minority that desires to talk, but towards majority that will not desire to pay attention.” Recently I came across this quote by Zechariah Chafee therefore made me personally rethink my emotions towards initial Amendment. This estimate completely encompasses just what initial Amendment aims to guard. 1st Amendment provides a protection toward minority. But to those residents that oppressed and prevented from sharing their thoughts, viewpoints, and opinions, its protection is deeper and more powerful than that. The First Amendment means that the majority listens, regardless if they don’t desire to. This might be a powerful belief. People, companies, and institutions which have the power and so are reluctant to change, adverse to brand new ideas, and opposed to contradictory philosophy cannot disregard those who they cannot trust. The First Amendment guarantees to all or any residents when they choose to speak their head, what they're saying may not be silenced, can not be restrained, and can not be ignored. That is the true value of First Amendment and that is what makes it perhaps one of the most important areas of our Constitution.

While we may disagree with what some body states, or just what someone thinks in, or the reasons behind which somebody protests, we ought to still protect his or her straight to do so. Initial Amendment represents the values on which this country had been started. When the colonies voiced their disapproval of King George III, these people were working out their freedom of speech. The Declaration of Independence itself is perhaps the very first document where an official “freedom of speech” is clear. Thomas Jefferson eloquently and assertively listed the many grievances the colonies had contrary to the King. The document is essentially petitioning the federal government of England for a redress of grievances, one of many guarantees listed in the First Amendment. The values underlying 1st Amendment were evident well before there is a United States of America.

In my opinion free message ought to be protected in virtually every example. However, this belief ended up being tested once I read Texas v. Johnson in a Constitutional Law course a year ago. I will be a remarkably patriotic individual and also to read an incident involving the burning of United states flag was hard for me to grasp. I happened to be initially up against the majority viewpoint and I discovered that it is quite troubling. Actually, I almost found myself agreeing more with Justice Stevens’ conservative dissent. Then I remembered exactly what dad has constantly explained from the time I became only a little woman, “Kirsten, remember to help keep an open mind.” So I read Justice Brennan’s opinion once more. The more I read, the more we started to comprehend the significance and astounding convenience associated with First Amendment. Inside bulk viewpoint for Texas v. Johnson, Brennan writes, “…the flag’s deservedly cherished place in our community may be strengthened, not weakened, by our keeping today. Our choice is a reaffirmation of axioms of freedom and inclusiveness that the flag well reflects, and regarding the conviction that our toleration of critique such as Johnson’s is an indicator and supply of our strength…” Brennan claims which our toleration of the banner burning and also the very undeniable fact that our Constitution protects it as a type of symbolic speech illustrates the power and significance of the very first Amendment. It exemplifies the power and resilience of our ideals. Brennan adds, “If there clearly was a bedrock concept underlying initial Amendment, its your Government cannot prohibit the expression of a concept because culture discovers the idea it self unpleasant or disagreeable.” As Us americans, we ought to never be afraid to be controlled by an individual who disagrees around. In fact, Brennan contends we should welcome it. We must yearn for anyone to reject what we rely on, to check our values, and to concern our concepts. Without that challenge, how can we be absolutely certain that what we believe is true? While we may well not wish to learn about another faith, or read an opposing governmental opinion, or witness some body burn the banner we hold so dear to your hearts, its imperative we protect this right. For without it, our nation will be paralyzed in a state of disillusionment, recession, and subjugation. We might not go our civilization ahead, we'd perhaps not advance our ideals, and now we will be forever caught in a moment with time that could neither allow us to continue or allow us to return.

When President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation he was exercising his First Amendment rights. As Martin Luther King Junior delivered their “I Have A Dream” speech, he was using their First Amendment defenses. Us americans whom took part in sit-ins advocating equal legal rights or citizens whom protested the Vietnam War exercised their First Amendment rights. When Jews or Christians or Muslims worship, they truly are exercising their First Amendment guarantees. I'm able to vote because ladies before me personally challenged the guidelines of their time. Minus the freedom to speak, or to protest, or even to exercise whatever religion one chooses, these victories will never have taken place. Yet even today, we consistently challenge these crucial freedoms. In new york, the construction of an Islamic Mosque will be aggressively compared. Why? The initial Amendment protects a freedom of religion. To prevent this mosque from being built will be a reckless abandonment of this principles and freedoms within the very first Amendment.

In America, we're given a precious present: freedom. This will be one thing we have to never ever ignore. Our Constitution is a rare and powerful document which has persisted for over two hundred years. It protects our freedom and contains guaranteed our lifestyle for years and years. The initial Amendment will still be challenged, but it will persevere. It's going to still guard the residents of this country just like the American Flag flies over the land of the free, even though it really is burned as you go along.

Browse previous successful essays here:

  • 2009: «The very first Amendment as a Universal Right» by Philipp Kotlaba
  • 2008: «Keeping the First Amendment Alive: The Need for Struggle» by Holly Kays
  • 2007: «From Paper to Protest: The Impact for the First Amendment» by Elena Dulys-Nusbaum
  • 2006: «Thoughts on Freedom: an extended drive to a small town» by Scott Bliss

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