Journal Address

U.S. citizens should have more appreciation for the freedom that the First Amendment offers


“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.”

This is the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and it protects the citizens of this country every single day. Unfortunately, in many other countries, citizens have no such protection.
Recently, one of the last independent Russian broadcast networks, Ekho Moskvy, was forced to shut down after reporting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

To Americans, this is a foreign concept. The rights that provide freedom of press and speech granted by the First Amendment protects newspapers from being shut down by the government and U.S. citizens from being censored in the media.

This extreme privilege is often overlooked and underappreciated. It’s time for the people to stop taking it for granted.
Ekho Moskvy was taken down because their coverage of the Ukrainian invasion, according to the Russian government, “called for extremist activities, violence and spread premeditated false information.”

This rather suspicious takedown succeeds several movements by the Russian government to censor its people from what is happening in Ukraine, including the threat of up to 15 years in prison for simply speaking out against the actions of the Russian Government or helping other people gain access to uncensored news coverage on recent events.

For example, Facebook and Instagram were also blocked from the Russian citizens, making them only accessible by the illegal use of a VPN, Virtual Private Network, that masks their identity and location in order to access the sites restricted by the government.

Conversely, in the U.S., citizens have access to essentially whatever site or app they want, and they can speak against the government as much as they please. Newspapers can also report on anything without fear of being censored by the government, one main example being the Watergate scandal of the 1970s.

The scandal was brought to the public eye by journalists hoping to expose the illegal activities of former President Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign and subsequent coverup of said illegal activity.

It goes without saying that journalists and newspapers in countries like Russia, China and other authoritarian countries would never be able to do this to any extent.

If the freedoms of the First Amendment were stripped from us, then the entire system of democracy and truth we stand on would crumble beneath our very feet. The minds of Americans would be filled with government propaganda. Newspapers all over the country, including The Journal, wouldn’t be able to inform and represent the public freely and without fear of persecution.

Still, after over 200 years since its ratification, the First Amendment is a great privilege to American society. It’s time to stop taking those protections and rights provided by the Amendment for granted.