If there’s one thing Americans know best, it’s how to threaten other Americans into displaying their pride by pressing legal action through their own interpretation of the Constitution. In current events, a handful of professional athletes have committed what some consider treasonous acts, by kneeling during the performance of the national anthem to further their own personal agendas against freedom. Those brave patriots who cried foul over this abhorrent action have made their opinions known to the world. The complete disrespect and borderline illegality of these professional athletes threatens the foundation of this country: The Constitution.
Everyone has their own idea of what freedom and the First Amendment of the Constitution entail. The first amendment to the Constitution reads “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech…” (US Constitution). Although this quote is abridged, many try to fill in the missing parts with phrases that include “as long as it doesn’t offend me”, “unless it doesn’t fit my religious agenda”, and “unless it corrupts the youth.” Although it may seem that these soldiers of the law have increased their bombardment of freedom missiles in the past few decades, the truth is these soldiers have always been present; breathing slowly, but loudly down the backs of our necks.
In 1982, the heroic and patriotic folk from the Board of Education of the Island Trees Union Free School District removed 12 books from their high school library that were “anti-Christian, anti-sem[i]tic, and just plain filthy” (“Island Trees”). How dare these high school students be exposed to perspectives that challenge the one-sided information they’ve been spoon-fed their entire lives. The Supreme Court defied the hopes of good Americans and Christians everywhere by decreeing that the school board had acted unconstitutionally in removing the books, and therefore ruled that the freedom of speech clause had been illegally followed. Many freedom-fighters have attempted to shape the first amendment to their own “enlightened” definition, but the Supreme Court has consistently sided with the original meaning of the amendment, which provides for anyone to express their opinion in a public setting without fear of arrest or censorship.
While many patriots have good intentions, they fail to realize their blatantly false interpretation of the Constitution. Those with ill-intentions are generally in the minority of public opinion. The root of these negative opinions typically derives from faults in education and failure to understand other people’s opinions and situations. These people are trapped in their own small bubble, floating over the vast sea of diversity. To avoid this sort of biased thinking in the future, unbiased education--in which multiple perspectives are discussed and the truth that everyone holds different beliefs--is stressed is needed.
This education would primarily benefit the public while posing few downsides. With a formal unbiased education, children would grow up understanding that they can hold any opinion they happen to hold without fear of being attacked or criticized. However, they would be taught that others are able to hold a different opinion or belief from theirs. This would lead to a decrease in censorship and increase discussion regarding the right to hold your own beliefs, which would prevent situations such as the aforementioned Supreme Court case from occurring. In a world of understanding and respect, humanity would prosper from the collaboration of those who would have otherwise ignored or harassed others for their conflicting opinions.
While there are mostly positive outcomes from this solution, a few negative implications arise. Solving this problem of disrespect and censorship would best be done in the shortest amount of time possible. However, because education spans generations, the desired outcome would require a significant chunk of time to reach its full effect. Many people want results immediately and this may not satisfy their desire. Additionally, education requires funding. As this sort of education would likely be done in public schools, the government may not be willing to allocate the necessary funds to successfully implement such a program. In addition to the previous two implications, if everyone is to tolerate others’ beliefs, we may lose an incredible learning opportunity. There are many intolerant organizations, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, that hold an extremely intolerant view of nearly everyone’s way of life but their own. If bigoted organizations such as this one cease to exist, we may suffer from the loss of an opportunity that grants a primary source of bigotry that we can use to educate and improve our society.
The self-proclaimed American patriots are clearly not justified in their attempts to warp the first amendment to validate their personal views of the world. They have been unsuccessful since the Supreme Court has upheld that the First Amendment and the freedom of speech don’t allow for the censorship of information just because a select few deem it un-American or inappropriate. Educating the youth to understand that everyone has a different opinion and that no one should have their opinion censored is an important step to ensure the continuation of our freedom of speech. I sometimes try to imagine what the United States would be like if the patriots were to win – and I shudder. That society is not what the United States should become.