Sunday, September 26, 2010
Demotivational Poster: First Amendment Rights
Isn’t it ironic that Americans who are offended by the mosque being built near Ground Zero also support pastor Terry Jones burning Korans (or almost burning them) on September 11, and that Americans who are offended by Terry Jones support the Ground Zero mosque? Typical. We Americans support our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and religion, until somebody else uses those rights in a way that offends us. Then we demand that the government intervene to protect us from being offended. What we often fail to realize is that the First Amendment protects all manners of speech and religious practices—even the most offensive—provided they harm no one.
Just as a reminder, this is what the First Amendment says:
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.
Notice how it states that the government cannot prohibit someone from practicing their religion or expressing themselves. The only exception would be if that person’s speech or religious practice puts someone else in harm. In other words, free speech does not excuse death threats to an elected official, nor does freedom of religion allow for human sacrifice.
That being said, the Muslims in New York are well within their right to build their mosque and worship Allah (even if it’s near a site were an Islamic terrorist attack occurred) just as Terry Jones is within his right to protest radical Islam by burning Korans (even if the event offends moderate Muslims by placing them and their religion on the same plane as the radicals). And if you’re offended, consider this: nobody’s forcing you to attend the mosque or burn the Koran. If it offends you, simply ignore it.