Freedoms of speech, the press and religion are under attack in the United States as more people are being silenced amid fears of offending, said a group of journalists, lawyers and First Amendment experts.
The group expressed their concerns about the eroding freedoms in America during an event titled "The First Amendment in the 21st Century" at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Olivet School of Media and Communication staff attended the more than three-hour discussion.
“There is a real dissonance between the First Amendment ideal and the real,” said David L. Hudson, Jr., a law professor and First Amendment ombudsman for the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center. “Today, we live in a climate where we face enforced silence.”
Three separate panels were held to allot time for the discussion of each freedom: speech, the press and religion. Each speaker described their dissatisfaction with the restrictions that have come upon the freedoms that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, argued that there is a “culture of restraint” on what people can say. It’s difficult to express a dissenting view, he lamented.
The fear of offending is becoming more widespread not only among Americans in their day-to-day conversations but also among journalists in their media work and religious leaders in their professions, the speakers noted.
“This is not what we would have expected,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. America seems to be retreating on First Amendment freedoms, he noted.
Some of the solutions offered by the speakers included a recommitment to the First Amendment, adopting humility, returning to the old and wise saying of giving someone the benefit of the doubt, and learning to accept the reality that in this world there will always be disagreement and offense.
OSMC hopes to impart this reality to students and emphasize the significance of the First Amendment as the school prepares them for the professional media world.
The event was produced by Spiked in association with the Newseum Institute, and in partnership with the Alliance Defending Freedom and supported by the Acton Institute.
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