Sunday, September 3, 2017

The First Amendment - A Cornerstone of Democracy

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees and protects freedom of the press. Their job (in part) is to provide checks and balances on government, especially important, since the 115th Congress has failed to perform that duty.

Media bashing has become de rigueur for conservatives, who scream "fake news" whenever the news does not fit their agenda. "The biased Liberal media," or "left-wing media meltdown" are common phrases they use to condemn print and broadcast media that seek to report current events based on fact.

People who think the main stream media is fake are seriously deluded. If you don't believe a story you see/hear/read, then check other sources. It is not at ALL difficult to determine with a little checking if a story is credible. If your only source is Fox News, then you need a wake-up call.

No intelligent person thinks all media is honest, accurate, or fair. Virtually everyone who is part of the media has personal bias, and many media outlets tend to represent or at least favor particular political persuasions. That is precisely why intelligent people use multiple sources for news. 

On the flip side, no intelligent person thinks all media is dishonest, inaccurate, and/or unfair, simply because what they report conflicts with what you want to see, hear, or read.

"One of the unsung freedoms that go with a free press is the freedom not to read it," wrote British columnist Ferdinand Mount.

The conservative attacks on the media (except, of course, for Fox News), are clear and convincing evidence that those people do not respect the Constitution. You don't get to pick which parts of the law of the land that you will observe and obey. 

"A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad." - Albert Camus, journalist/author.

ANYONE who tries to limit the press is promoting autocracy and is violating the law of the land. Just because you don't like what is being reported, doesn't mean it isn't real. There is a very specific reason why the Constitution protects the press, and why it is the first amendment.

"The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to bare the secrets of government and inform the people," wrote Hugo Black, former Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference," said Nelson Mandela in 1994.

Let's also keep in mind that the Constitution doesn't defend itself. We elect a government and charge them with defending and upholding the laws we know as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. When those people fail to perform this duty, they are subject to impeachment and removal from office. 

"The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." - Thomas Jefferson, 1787.

"Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it's important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power," said former President George W. Bush in 2017.

"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." - James Madison, The U.S. Constitution, First Amendment.

Get over it, media haters. It is the Constitution at work in our Democratic Constitutional Republic.

Larry Manch is an author, teacher, guitar player, freelance writer, and columnist. His books include: 'Twisted Logic: 50 Edgy Flash Fiction Stories', 'The Toughest Hundred Dollars & Other Rock & Roll Stories', 'A Sports Junkie', 'The Avery Appointment', 'Between the Fuzzy Parts'. His books are available in paperback and e-book.

He also writes about sports for Season Tickets, food and travel on Miles & Meals, and music/guitars on The Backbeat.

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