Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, New England First Amendment Coalition board member and former Providence Journal columnist:
The 45 words in the First Amendment guarantee five freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and freedom to petition the government. But those constitutional guarantees are paper thin if not defended and championed by each generation.
In his book “Freedom for the Thought We Hate,” Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Lewis noted that in 1798 (just seven years after the First Amendment was added to the Constitution), Congress passed a law punishing disrespectful comments about the president, and editors went to the hoosegow for mocking President John Adams. And a century later, men received 20 years in prison for criticizing a policy decision by President Woodrow Wilson.