There's bittersweet news in a University of Connecticut survey regarding the First Amendment. The survey reveals that Americans have mixed feelings about the basic freedoms they've been guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
While the pollsters asked respondents general questions about the First Amendment, they also asked specific questions about the freedom of the press.
Eighty-two percent of the respondents said they believe it's vital to have the media hold government in check. Conversely, 71 percent said they believed it's just as important for the government to hold the media in check.
When asked whether they have more concern about the media having too much freedom or the government imposing too much censorship, 41 percent said they were more concerned about the media; 36 percent were more concerned about censorship.
Although the survey indicates that the media must work harder to consistently produce fair, useful, informative reports that are worthy of the public's trust, it also indicates that an alarming number of citizens are poised to surrender one of our most fundamental rights.
The First Amendment goes far beyond protecting the Fourth Estate. It's not just a clause that gives each citizen the right to publish news, information and opinions without government interference.
Freedom of the Press is just one of five basic rights protected by the First Amendment. If Americans decide that it's time to start censoring our nation's media, the government will have room to restrict our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom of assembly and our freedom to petition our government.
Chipping away at any part of the First Amendment, no matter how small, opens the door for government to unravel the fabric of our way of life.
If you don't like what you read in the news or hear on TV, don't lash out at the First Amendment, use it. Stand up and speak your mind, let your voice be heard, enjoy your freedom.