Freedom Of Speech & Peaceful Assembly: What Uncle Sam Has To Say

In recent years, the words “offense” and “offended” have been increasing in use exponentially; So much that in society today it is even occasionally used to mock people. This is due to a plethora of reasons, the first being the difference in views both morally and politically between generations. Whether a controversial topic such as if abortion should be legal, or if raising animals for stock is ethical, the tension is through the roof.

Not only are these differences in political as well as moral beliefs influential in the United States government, but on a smaller scale, college campuses.

Protests against certain religions spark rage in many students in the wright state community. This poses the question: how far exactly do state and government documents go to limit freedom of speech as far as protecting those with different beliefs? An evaluation of these documents: The United States Bill of Rights, Ohio laws and regulations on demonstrations taking place on public college campuses, as well as Wright State University’s current demonstration policy and demonstration registration form, will be done to decide where the line has been drawn, if at all on protest.

In December of 1791 ten amendments, famously written by James Madison were added to the United States Constitution (Constitution Facts). The Bill of Rights were written to protect the American peoples’ basic human rights. Over time the Bill of Rights has become an important topic of discussion. Disagreement ensues regularly concerning whether the Bill of Rights requires reform to better reflect the developments in morals as well as technology that have occurred over the past 227 years.

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Two of the most commonly debated affairs in this genre are the first amendment: Freedom of speech & assembly, and the 2nd Amendment: The right to bear arms. Fortunately, though, due to the first amendment of the constitution, “We the people” are free to speak our minds, and protest against the things we do not believe in (The Constitution of…).

Stated in the First Amendment in the United States Bill of Rights “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…” (The Bill of Rights). A subject often refuted between the nation is whether protests against certain controversial topics such as immigration should be allowed, because it targets specific groups of people. Although people are protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 from being discriminated due to things such as race or national origin, this only protects people in the workplace (Title VII of the Civil). This specifier means that outside of the workplace, ones’ freedom of speech is protected even towards racism and bigotry are protected by The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Any person, or group of people are legally protected by the Bill Of Rights to speak or protest against any other person or people due to their race, gender, sexual orientation, skin color etc. This means that technically if a group of people decided to protest an ethnic group because of the color of their skin, they would be doing so legally. There is, however, a small catch. Anyone is able to protest any single thing or person(s) unless “Speech tends to cause, attempts to cause, or makes a threat to cause some illegal conduct” as stated by the integral to illegal conduct.

As echoed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Ohio laws state the same, that citizens contain the right to peacefully assemble. This however, has not always been suggested. In 1970, An Ohio College, protests at Kent State University, caused the current governor of Ohio at the time to completely ban protests for a period of time. This ban was caused by a series of protests by students at the college against the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The series of events that took place during these protests, as well as a shooting, tend to be unclear due to a series of books and other sources of media that were hastily provided to the public (THE MAY 4…).

In 1970, Students began a peaceful protest against the war, however, as the sun went down, things became violent. Students began to throw rocks, destroy public property, set trash cans aflame, as well as the Kent State ROTC building. The Ohio National Guard was called to disperse the protests, which had become violent. After the protestors had been disembodied a group belonging to the National Guard ensued open fire, killing 4 students and injuring 9 others. This series of events are what caused the Governor of Ohio to completely ban Protests. The now largely developed group advanced to Washington D.C. protesting not only the bombings, but the shootings that had occurred on the campus (The Legal Background…).

The protests and tragedies that occurred at Kent state University nearly 50 years ago directed other college campuses to continue to update demonstration policies to this day. At the start of the Fall 2018 semester, Wright State University updated their demonstration policy. This policy includes regulations “with regard to time, place and manner.” More specifically, demonstrators on Wright States campus are required to give a 1-3 day notice (depending on the size of the group) before demonstrating, strict policies as to where citizens are allowed to protest and that demonstrators are not permitted to block any student traffic or threatening to cause injury or harm to persons or property (Demonstrations). Many of these policies are mirrored in both the United States Bill of Rights, as well as Ohio State laws on demonstration.

Some may argue that these policies do not protect the citizens of The United States of America, and that they do indeed require reformation. The first amendment of the Bill of Rights does not limit things such as hate speech and protest against anything or person as long as no verbal threat or action that may ensue illegal conduct; It does however, give each American citizen the right to speak against these things, and protest against others who use their freedom of speech and right to peacefully assemble negatively.

As with all things, the first amendment can be and is often used in both positive and negative ways. Limitations and policies do what they legally can to attempt to put out any kindling of physical harm or social injustice that it can while still following the United States Constitution. It is both ones right as well as their duty to practice their first amendment right in whatever way they see fit. “We The People” have been given these rights to protect ourselves and our voices, so let them be heard.

Works Cited

  1. David E. Engdahl, The Legal Background and Aftermath of the Kent State Tragedy, 22 Clev. St. L..Rev. 3 (1973) http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol22/iss1/5
  2. Eugene Volokh, e Speech Integral to Criminal Conduct Exception, 101 Cornell L. Rev. 981 (2016) http://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/clr/vol101/iss4/3
  3. Gjelten, E.A. “When May Government Restrict Your Right to Gather and Protest?” Lawyers.com, Lawyers.com, 9 Apr. 2015, www.lawyers.com/legal-info/criminal/the-right-to-gather-has-some-restrictions.html.
  4. Lewis, Jerry M., and Thomas R. Hensley. “THE MAY 4 SHOOTINGS AT KENT STATE UNIVERSITY: THE SEARCH FOR HISTORICAL ACCURACY.” Kent.edu, THE OHIO COUNCIL FOR THE SOCIAL STUDIES REVIEW, www.kent.edu/may-4-historical-accuracy.
  5. “Protesters: Know Your Rights!” ACLU of Ohio, www.acluohio.org/protesters-know-your-rights.
  6. “The Bill of Rights: A Transcription.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript.
  7. “The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription.” National Archives and Records Administration, National Archives and Records Administration, www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript.
  8. “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Know Your Rights.” AAUW: Empowering Women Since 1881, AAUW, www.aauw.org/what-we-do/legal-resources/know-your-rights-at-work/title-vii/
  9. “U.S. Bill of Rights.” Constitution Facts – Official U.S. Constitution Website, www.constitutionfacts.com/us-constitution-amendments/bill-of-rights/.
  10. “Demonstrations.” Demonstrations | Policy.wright.edu | Wright State University, policy.wright.edu/policy/1260-demonstrations.

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Freedom Of Speech & Peaceful Assembly: What Uncle Sam Has To Say. (2021, Mar 18). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/freedom-of-speech-peaceful-assembly-what-uncle-sam-has-to-say-essay

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