Free speech not free? It’s complicated. And consequences abound

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Art by Chris Christian (on flickr.com)

“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.”

According to Robert Richards, Director of the Pennsylvania Center for First Amendment and professor of First Amendment studies at the Pennsylvania State University, Americans often leave out the government component when interpreting this law. When I spoke with him he said “ in order to have a first amendment issue or challenge, you have to have some connection to government… a lot of people forget that, because they automatically think if their speech is somehow being infringed upon as their First Amendment rights are violated, you don’t have any first amendment rights being violated until you have the government restricting speech.”

Trained Journalist, Civil Debater, Mentorship/Youth Advocate, Ph.D. Candidate

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