Writing Assignment – COM 250 – December 2017
Reread the First Amendment. For your convenience, here it is:
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.
Note that this amendment is only 45 words long and the portion dealing specifically with free speech and the free press is even shorter.
We have spent the semester exploring many of the free speech and press issues that have arisen and been decided by the courts pursuant to this rather general charter of freedoms. Clearly, those few words do themselves provide much in the way of specific guidance on issues such as (1) incitement, (2) prior restraints, (3) hate speech, (4) defamation, (5) privacy, commercial and corporate speech, (6) government speech, (7) symbolic conduct, (8) copyright, (9) the regulation of protests and pickets or (10) new communication technologies (e.g., broadcasting, movies and the Internet). The First Amendment also say nothing about the difference between government regulations or law that directly target the content of speech as opposed to other matters (e.g., the time, place or manner of the speech or other governmental interests) that might have an incidental impact on the content. To say that the courts have had to reason, infer and improvise over the last 200+ years would be an understatement.
First, assume the deletion of the speech and press clauses, so it reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Second, assume you have been assigned the task of adding a second paragraph to the First Amendment – a new paragraph that will deal only with expressive freedoms (i.e., speech and the press). Your new paragraph may include up to 50 words (and not one more) setting forth or stating the expressive freedoms protected by the new First Amendment.
You are to propose the language that you would use in your newly revised First Amendment and then write up to an additional 750 words explaining and defending your proposal. Finally, your explanation must specifically deal with at least 4 of the above issues (numbered 1 through 10).
Details and Rules: This is worth 100 points and is due on or before noon on December 20, 2017. You may bring it with you to the third test, which will be held on December 12 in class; you may email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org; or, you may give it to me on December 19 during the last class session. If you email it to me use a standard Word software format or just cut and paste it to your email to me to be sure I can read it; and, be sure you receive an acknowledgment of receipt from me within about 24 hours. If I cannot find it under your last name or it is lost, the responsibility is yours It must be typed. It must include your name, an email address that you will check, and word counts for both sections. Check your spam filters. Include in the subject line the following (with no spaces) so I can search easily for your submissions: “COM250Essay2017.” The work must be your own. If you quote a source or someone else, include appropriate citations. If you use sources other than the text, notes or materials used in class, include citations.
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