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The First Amendment/Censorship. Essay

2013 words - 8 pages

Amendment PaperI. First Amendment TextII. What It GuaranteesIII. Why It Was ImportantIV. Supreme Court Cases and Public Trials--NSPA v. Skokie--Gobitis v. Minersville-- Barnette v. West Virginia School Board--Tinker v. Des MoniesV. The Censorship Issue--Music*Frank Zappa and the PMRC--Books--ObscenityVI. Closing RemarksAmendment 1Congress 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.The First Amendment allows U.S. citizens to practice their own religions, petition the government, hold meetings, speak as they choose and print what they see fit in their press. The amendment has now extended to include non-verbal expressions like clothing or art. However, the First Amendment will not allow you to intimidate or harass others or break the law. For example, religious sacrifice is not allowed in the U.S., and threatening phone calls are not protected under the First Amendment. A newspaper can be sued for libel if it knowingly prints information that is false.The young U.S. chose to be a forerunner in freedom of speech, something now associated with democracy. American colonists remembered that in 1500's England, speaking out against the government was considered treason and was punishable by death. The English civil war in 1642 and the formation of a new government actually led to more restriction. In 1644, John Milton wrote Areopagitica, outlining points against censorship which are still used today. Finally, in 1689, the English Bill of Rights was passed allowing free speech-- to members of Parliament.In 1735, John Peter Zenger was on trial in the American Colonies. New York governor William Cosby was criticized in Zenger's New York Weekly Journal. Cosby charged Zenger with seditious libel. Zenger's lawyer, Alexander Hamilton, used a new defense tactic. Zenger had told the truth and therefore had not done anything wrong. John Peter Zenger was found not guilty and today if a government official is insulted by a published remark the official must prove that the remark was printed with "actual malice," before any prosecution. This is so because, when the Bill of Rights was written, it allowed freedom of speech-for Everyone.Skokie, Illinois isn't far from Chicago. Skokie's residents are primarily Jewish and many were Holocaust survivors. These were happy people until Frank Collin wanted to come to town. Collin, was the leader of the NSPA, The National Socialist Party of America, a group of men who shared the beliefs of the German Nazis. They even looked like Nazis. In 1976, the NSPA had attempted to march in Chicago's Marquette Park, but the city "uncovered" some documents which said that all told the NSPA would have to pay $250,000 insurance to march in the park. Seeing as the NSPA didn't have that kind of money, they contacted the ACLU#,...

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