Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Give Thanks for The First Amendment

Each term I get several opportunities to teach about my favorite journalism topic -- The First Amendment:
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.
Those 45 words kick off the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution and became law on Dec. 15, 1791. James Madison, fourth president of the United States, is revered as the Father of the Constitution and the Father of the Bill of Rights.

One of the activities that I share with my students is the fun and informative First Amendment Challenge (at least that's what I call it) hosted online by the Student Press Law Center. Students are always somewhat surprised by what the First Amendment does and doesn't protect when it's put into practice. Take the quiz and you'll see what I mean.

My aim by the end of the lesson is to have them join in my cause as a First Amendment zealot. Or at least to give thanks that they live in a country where they are free to think and say what they want. That's something for which I'll again be grateful this Thanksgiving.


(Photo credit: "First Amendment Rally" by Luke Redmond, courtesy of

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