Today's Complex Issues
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances" – First Amendment
There it is in all its glory the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution declares that Congress will not create a Federal Religion and that it won't interfere with a state or person's rights to do so. In the early history of America, many states had a religious test, requiring political office holders to declare a belief in a Supreme Being. This was declared unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1961. And yet, the government still swears in Presidents and witnesses using the Bible or holy book of a person's choice, so the wall that separates church and state is not a mile high brick wall. And many states in their Preambles to their Constitutions mention God in their wording.
I will use Ohio's Preamble as an example since it is one of the shortest. "We, the people of the State of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and promote our common welfare, do establish this Constitution."
Google any state that you wish and you will see that God is mentioned in many of the states' constitutions. The wall that separates church and state is not a mile high one.
Americans also have free speech, but until our modern era, it has never been able to be fully exercised by its citizens and there are still laws against profanity, and political correctness is enforced at least in an informal way by social media. The freedom of press means nothing to the average citizen as he does not own a printing press and cannot distribute his own newspaper.
People can assembly peacefully, as long as the government determines that it is a peaceful assembly. So the freedoms granted in the First Amendment are not unlimited or all encompassing and in many cases have to be met with government approval.
What does all this mean? It means that freedoms are not unlimited and the nature of the First Amendment is different then what it is portrayed by the media and pop culture, as many things often are. While the Constitution itself allows for new amendments and these could grant people greater freedom, it could also be changed to give people less freedom. Would we want our Constitution changed to say that we have the right to form any group that we wish on social media, even though most of social media is a private entity? As it is written, I do not see that the First Amendment grants you the right to say whatever you want on social media, as these are often owned by private or public companies. But, like all things philosophical, it is not so cut and dry. If a social media company gets tax breaks, they would lose a lot of their power to self regulate, especially if they claim to provide a platform for users to exchange ideas. If social media companies really do provide such a service then I would say that they deserve the tax breaks, if not then tax the hell out of them. Of course, my opinion doesn't really count, as the Supreme Court Justices are the only ones that get to decide what the Constitution means and how to apply it to the laws of the land – it can be argued that the Judicial Branch is the most powerful of the three branches of government.
The purpose of this essay was to demonstrate how complex today's issues really are and to get my readers to think about things in a new light.