Think First

Do you really know what your five freedoms are?

Do you really know the First Amendment?

Adopted by the Texas Press Association and other media groups across the country, we are working this month to make sure that Americans know exactly what their freedoms are.

Do you know them? Do you know the freedoms included in the First Amendment?

Freedom of Religion
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Press
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of Petition

It’s important for every single American to know these freedoms and to make sure no one trounces them.

You have the right to your faith, as part of the freedom of religion. It also means that you don’t try to squelch another religion. Go to church, go to the synagogue, go to the mosque. Or go outside and think about greater things. Everyone has that right in the U.S.

You have the right to free speech. No matter what the analytics of Facebook and Twitter show, you can say what you want. You can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theater or slander or libel someone, but you have the right – and all others have the right – to talk about whatever they want. You might not like it; you might abhor the other person’s position. But that freedom is guaranteed. Speak your mind and use the First.

We all have the right to freedom of the press. Right here in your hometown, we print letters to the editor. Unless a letter is libelous, it gets printed. Your message can be distributed to thousands. No one can shut down the newspaper just because they do not like a story or they do not like a letter. No governmental entity can shut us – or you – down. That’s guaranteed. That’s a rare freedom in this world today. Even as some people are saying “fake news”, we all have the right to print our opinions.

You have the right to a peaceable assembly. You can gather in tens, twenties … or the hundreds. You can use your freedom of speech and gather together to protest, to support, to petition…

And that brings up another freedom. We all have the right to petition our government. Go ahead, attend a council meeting or the commissioners court. You have every right to speak, to request information (remember the freedom of information act?), to contact your elected officials, to send letters to the council or senator or president. Write away, make the calls. We all have those rights – to let them know what we think and what we want.

This is the month to celebrate our freedoms. While it might be hot outside, it would be a lot hotter if we were being held in a prison for speaking out, for calling on our reps, for printing our feelings and being arrested for our views.

Don’t let these freedoms be taken away.

Think First.

That’s what makes all of us Americans.

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