For many years, PMA has been
a member of the Media Coalition. We chose to join this group because it acts as
a watchdog on attempts to curtail our right of free speech. Many different
groups are represented in the Media Coalition, including book publishers,
magazine publishers, Internet publishers, music publishers, librarians, and
booksellers. We are all working together to ensure that we can continue to offer
our constituents the rights guaranteed by our Constitution’s First Amendment.
That 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.
The most basic component of
freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech, which allows
individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the
Despite popular misunderstanding,
the right to freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment is not very
different from the right to freedom of speech. It allows individuals to express
themselves through publication. It is part of the constitutional protection of
freedom of expression. It does not give members of the media any rights or
privileges beyond those that citizens in general have.
What About Offensive
Sometimes fighting for an
individual or company’s right to say, sing, print, or film something means
fighting for exposure of content that we personally do not approve. Do you
agree with everything published, sung, printed, or shown? Probably not. I know
But should we fight to allow
publication of material that we don’t agree with or find offensive? In my mind
there’s only one answer: Of course. If we don’t, what will happen to our right
to publish material we believe in that offends somebody else?
What makes our country so special
is that we can say, print, sing, and show whatever we please. It’s guaranteed
under our Constitution. And when our government and its leaders try to override
that guarantee, we are allowed to question and protest, as we would not be in many
other countries around the world.
Do I have the right not<span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’> to read, see, or sing something I find offensive? Of
course I do. This is my personal choice.
But do I believe in prohibiting
the publication of material because it offends me or others? Do I, in other
words, support censorship by the government or anyone else? Here my answer is
No. Even though I may choose not to read something, I will continually fight to
preserve the constitutional right to publish it.
I hope we all reread the First
Amendment and understand that the founders of this country were concerned with
protecting the freedom to express findings and views of all sorts on topics of
all sorts. Now it’s up to us to keep protecting that freedom.