Religion, assembly, petition, press and speech. These are the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, which will be celebrated on First Amendment Day on Thursday.
Various events have been leading up to First Amendment Day this week including the lecture, Social Media and the First Amendment, by Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. LoMonte presented in Memorial Union’s Great Hall on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.
“I really am in awe of the way that Iowa State opens its heart to the First Amendment for this whole week once a year,” LoMonte said.
LoMonte presented various First Amendment cases to demonstrate how law is not keeping up with social media as developments occur.
“The internet has so compressed what we think of as a generation. What is a generation now? A generation is the 18 months between iPhone three and iPhone four,” LoMonte said.
During the lecture, LoMonte made a point how the First Amendment arises in court as a defense of someone overreaching his or her boundaries.
LoMonte said not knowing what rights the First Amendment protects can lead to self-censorship.
“If you’re not sure where the line exists, then you’ll stop yourself way short of the line,” LoMonte said.
More than 250 people were present for the lecture, after which LoMonte took questions from the audience.
“Understanding how broad our rights are, I think that’s taken for granted a lot of times,” said Peter Gensler, junior in supply chain management. “We have a lot of ways to express ourselves, it’s just a matter of whether we want to exercise them and use them.”
LoMonte also spoke about how every new media invented since the creation of the First Amendment has faced the same challenges social media is dealing with today.
He also addressed changes in constitutional rights over time.
“Students are the one demographic group in America whose constitutional rights are worse today than they were 40 years ago,” LoMonte said.
He went on to add that everyone has a stake in students having a right to free speech, because college students are the frontline providers of news.
LoMonte stated he believes news consumption, as well as First Amendment rights, should be taught as a core class in middle school.
The lecture was sponsored by the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, the Iowa State Daily, Lee Enterprises, the ISU chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Committee on Lectures funded by the Government of the Student Body.