Your rights

By: Parker Rowen

Image taken from: “Bill of Rights (1791).” Bill of Rights Institute,

As an American citizen, you’re entitled to certain protections, and rights. Though being given these rights, America does a poor job of explaining those rights to you. Your rights are supposed to be guaranteed, and supposed to provide protection from public, and government persecution.

The First Amendment covers a lot of ground, but two of the most important rights granted by this amendment are the right to protest, and the right to speak freely. 

The right to protest, means no one gets to stop you, beside law enforcement, should things get serious or violent. Despite this being your right, you still must jump through certain hoops to achieve these rights. For your right to protest, you are typically supposed to have a permit; this mostly is for things such as marches, or rally’s which disrupt the general public. In order to acquire a permit, you are usually required to apply weeks in advance for the rally, or protest which you are organizing, though this may not be used as an excuse to block public rallies which are “rapid responses to unforeseeable and recent events.” 

There are certain limitations when it comes to protesting without a permit. The most prominent and common question is, “Where can you protest”? The answer is a fairly simple one, anywhere you need to as long as you’re following things such as traffic laws, and leave enough space for others to pass by.

The second right granted by this amendment is freedom of speech. Despite the name, there are limitations as to what you’re allowed to say. Most of these limitations, at least to me, seem reasonable.

The first of these limitations is something known as slander (in writing this is known as libel). Slander is defined as “…defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another, which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed.” 

The next limitation posed is one of safety. Direct threats, which pertain to one’s safety, are essentially illegal. If you make a threatening statement towards someone, you can be fined and arrested for such. A threat is defined as: “A declaration of one’s purpose or intention to work injury to the person, property, or rights of another.” Some examples of this may include threatening to kill or injure someone, threatening to burn someone’s house down, or threatening to silence them for speaking against them.

This amendment exists to keep the American definition of freedom alive; they exist to protect you from having your privacy invaded, create a definition of freedom, and to avoid conviction for exercising those freedoms.

There are plenty of amendments to cover, this is just one of several. Understanding these are key to knowing your rights as an American, so to learn about this is essential.

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