First Amendment Family

First Amendment Family December 8, 2012

Raised up in Seattle, he’d grown up comfortable. Not unaware but at least far removed from the growing up his grandparents experienced. The kind of experiences that made a person of color want to move far, far away from the land of their growing up.

You should interview them about all that, I said. Find out what they think of the First Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment.

So he did.

We look at Syria and shake our heads angrily over the human right abuses that are being inflicted upon the people of that nation. People who are fighting for the right to say what they think, to express themselves, the right to a free press, and freedom from religious persecution. We wonder how is it that a group of people can be so cruel, so inhumane to another? How can their president Bashar al-Assad remain in power? Who would follow such a tyrant?

But we forget that we are not all that far removed from a pretty inhumane history ourselves.

The following video is an excerpt from conversations one student had with his family about the First Amendment.

What about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you were too intimidated to speak freely? Or a place where you witnessed the persecution of another?


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  • AFRoger

    I was in Czechoslovakia during the “Prague Spring” three weeks before it was crushed by Soviet tanks and troops. I was in East Berlin on the very day of that invasion: August 21, 1968. I will never forget that day.
    To say that people walked around hunkered down would be putting it mildly. There was always a protective veil, a distance, that people had to keep between themselves and anyone they did not know very well. Someone might be listening, watching. And then there was always the internal conflict: how can you allow yourself to think, feel and read things that you could never say aloud without fear for your own or your family’s life and freedom, such as it was?

    On November 12, I exercised a little freedom of speech in front of the United States Supreme Court:
    Freedom of speech is a meaningless, empty freedom unless we exercise it. Use it or lose it. Better said, UNLESS we use it, we’ve never really had it.

  • John in PDX

    I have! My wife asked me ‘Do these pants make me look fat?’ I said ‘What do you think the chances of the Cubs this year?’
    I was really afraid.