In conversations with others, I am sometimes surprised at their lack of understanding of what the First Amendment protects us from.

What is probably the most confusing to them are the many ways it gets interpreted in society today. That is especially true when those interpretations fall behind some sort of political agenda.

I want to encourage everyone to take a few minutes this week and read through the First Amendment as our founders wrote it. Those words still today define it in its purest form.

The freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly are designed to protect us all. But how they do it is the true struggle, as interpretation may get in the way.

Since this is National Newspaper Week across the country, I might focus a bit on how the First Amendment impacts freedom of the press as a local newspaper.

Because of freedom of the press, I can write this column and others can give us opinions just as Derby resident Bob Cropp has in a letter to the editor above. You may or may not agree with my column or Mr. Cropp’s letter. But the reality is we both have the right to express our thoughts as long as it is done in a law-abiding way.

The incident that Mr. Cropp references in his letter is another example of how some feel that a Derby person’s First Amendment rights may have been challenged.

When an assistant principal first asked a student to remove a Trump 2020 flag, the action could have been a violation of his First Amendment rights. District officials may have quickly realized that possibility, and later admitted it was not handled properly.

As a newspaper, we run into situations that may give us concern. Has the law been violated? Is something being covered up? And most importantly, has someone’s First Amendment rights been violated?

It’s not the press that always recognizes situations that could violate our First Amendment rights. We are of no power without you – the community, the reader, the person. All of you together who see, hear and communicate to us, are far more powerful. Because of you we use that freedom of the press we have. Freedom starts with you. Know your basic rights and fight for them when it is time.

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