Law Day 2019 Art & Essay Contest Results
These are the winning entries from the 2019 Law Day Art and Essay Contest:
Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press: We Are Lucky to Have Them
Can you imagine living in a country where you couldn't disagree with something someone said or did? It would be terrible wouldn't it? That is why we are lucky to have freedom of speech and freedom of the press here in America.
Freedom of speech means that we have the rights to express ourselves if we disagree or disapprove with something someone's doing. We are allowed to state our opinions and ideas to anybody we want, as long as it is appropriate and doesn't break any rules or laws.
Freedom of the press means that the media can announce anything. Can you imagine if the news station had to ask the government what they were allowed to say on T. V.?
In some countries, the government is afraid of being criticized, so people don't have freedom of speech and freedom of the press. If you think about it, these rights affect our daily lives so we are lucky to have them! We know what is happening around us because we are allowed to watch the news and they talk about new things every day. If we see something we don't like we can use freedom of speech to change it. Some times in history that this has happened would be when slavery was still legal and when women weren't allowed to vote. But it is not just things that happened a long time ago. People protest current situations too. In my personal experiences, if something was happening at school, I could talk to a teacher or to the principal.
Aren't you so grateful for freedom of speech and freedom of the press? What would our country be without them?! Well, I know that answer, our country wouldn't be the amazing country we know today.
Lindsay Garber, Grade 5 – McCall
Land of the Free Press
"Were it up to me to decide whether we had a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." As a land of the free we should agree with Thomas Jefferson that a land with news but lacking a government is superior to a land where the government controls news and in turn our opinions and livelihoods. If the government controlled our news we lose our ability to learn and be our own person. Our country would stop being the land of the free. We also need news to improve humanity, without news, our :freedoms would cease to exist.
The first reason why we should agree with Thomas Jefferson is because if we don't have news then we will no longer be our own people and will become brainwashed and in turn will lose our :freedoms and rights. For example, in North Korea they do not have freedom of the press which also means they can't express their opinions. They are preconditioned to hate people unlike them, and will never be able to improve humanity's situation. We should always choose to have news, because once you stop being exposed to different opinions change is impossible.
"A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion"-Grantland Rice. To be good people and be able to improve and learn from our mistakes we must be able to have our own opinions. We have to have news about problems and ideas to fix them or else we would become inhumane and prejudiced, which would lead to people being racist, sexist, classist, and elitist.
Another reason why we should agree with Thomas Jefferson is that when we stop having news than we will no longer be a land of the free and instead will become restricted and everyone will be a follower and not a leader, and because of that there will be no change. Once people stop being exposed to different ideas and beliefs then we will believe whatever we are told. and our country will no longer be accepting of all races, religions, and ideas and our country will be just like the unjust countries that we go to war with to defend human rights and give people a fair and just life. We will lose all our :freedoms, not just the freedom of press, also the freedom of speech, religion, and assembly. We should always keep our core beliefs because that is why when we declared our freedom from Great Britain we included our freedom of press in the first amendment. The freedom of the press is extremely important for our country's ideology. "We declare that human rights are for all of us-no matter our class, our opinions, or our sexual orientation"-Ban Ki-moon, eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The final reason to agree with Thomas Jefferson is that having news and being informed is essential to the betterment of mankind. We need to be informed about the hardships and problems that face us to be able to fix the problems we have. We need news to improve people's lives, we need to stay knowledgeable. Having news is more important than having a government, because everyone can help people, they just need to be educated that their help is needed. As long as we are informed, we can do a lot, and we need to have news to do that.
That is why we as Americans should agree with Thomas Jefferson's quote, "were it up to me to decide whether we had a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter". Because news allows change to happen, it lets our country be a land of the free, and it gives people an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of mankind.
Ross Mahler, Grade 7 – Williamsport
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are so essential to our nation that the Framers included them in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thomas Jefferson once wrote " ... were it up to me to decide whether we had a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." I would have to agree with Thomas Jefferson that freedom of speech and freedom of the press is as important, if not more important, than government. Expressing opinion and emotion can be the most powerful in the form of words, which makes the idea of losing our freedom of speech and freedom of the press even more worrying.
One reason why I agree with Thomas Jefferson is because freedom of speech is one of the most impactful things in the world. Many people are influenced by the words of the people they look up to. People can be encouraged to believe in, fight for, or engage in something just by the words spoken by the people they find influential. That can play a big part in politics and, in general, any decision made by the people of a community. For example, when Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech many people were encouraged to fight for equal rights for all people. When people are influenced by someone, they '.ll"e led to believe in certain things that that person believes in. This can impact an entire community. Freedom of speech makes the biggest impression on the people of the world.
Another reason why I agree with Thomas Jefferson is because freedom of the press is one of the most important rights we have in this country. In the Constitution, under the First Amendment it states, "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." Freedom of the press is a right we have in which we get to write our opinions without censorship by the government. The written word is the most respected form of influence. Teachers teach it in schools. You see it everywhere. Our life is based on reading and writing. Without it there would be no purpose. Freedom of the press can influence even the most powerful people to follow our lead. Without it we might not have some of the rights we have today. Things would've been taken away from us which makes us wonder what life would've been like without the right to express our own opinions.
The government, like most things in life, can take things away from us. If we hadn't, or couldn't have, voiced our opinions we wouldn't have as many of the rights we have today. Without the many speeches, opinionated news articles, and the ability to not be censored by the government when doing or creating these things is a gift. The government is known for making and enforcing the rules of our country so the thought of not having a say in the decisions that are made by the government is scary. I'm glad our country has the opportunity to change its fate through the influence of words.
As Thomas Jefferson said, he would choose to have newspapers without government over government without newspapers if he had to and as I have showed through my reasoning, I think that Thomas Jefferson's choice is the most reasonable choice. Freedom of speech and of the press is much more important and impactful than the government. The freedom we have has the power to influence the world and we shouldn't abuse that. I wouldn't hesitate for one moment to agree with Thomas Jefferson.
Carley Borgess, Grade 7 – Williamsport
In 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara commissioned a report on the history of American involvement in Vietnam. Around 40 people, either DOD employees or specially cleared civilian analysts, were put to work on the project. Among them was a young former Marine, named Daniel Ellsberg. Though Ellsberg was originally a supporter of the war, he had become skeptical. He was particularly disheartened by the contents of the Pentagon Papers, having called them, "evidence of a quarter century of aggression, broken treaties, deceptions, stolen elections, lies and murder." He photocopied the papers, and sent them to The New York Times. Three months later, the Times published some of the most damning articles from the paper, and the. Nixon administration was quite livid. People learned of illegal bombings, coups, and all around dishonesty from the government they were supposed to trust so much. Not long after, publication of the article was halted by a district court judge. But, the New York Times appealed, and the case eventually made it to the Supreme Court, in the famous case The New York Times Co. v. United States where they ruled 6-3 in favor of The Times. The highest court in the land had decided that this newspaper's right to free speech was more important than the secrecy of the military, and though the supreme court's track record is far from perfect, this is one they got spot on. A free. press is more important than a functioning government because a free press lets us know what our representatives are doing, and holds offices of the government accountable.
Prior to 1979, members of congress were able to speak on ihe floor with near complete secrecy. If somebody said something their constituents might not have wanted to hear,. they could go back into the editing room, and strike the remarks from history. But, in 1979, Brian Lamb decided to change .this. Ho created C-Span, a network that to this day broadcasts everything from speeches on the floor of the House or Senate, to .speeches given by influential political figures. Many have accused C-Span of hindering progress within congress, but what progress are they to make that the American people shouldn't know of? Congressmen and women are elected by the people, and those people have a right to know the things their congresspeople say while representing them. Countries like Russia have seen the issues with a free speech crackdown in a country. Most all media outlets ate state run, and the ones that aren't are faced with threats forcing them to limit criticism of president Vladimir Putin and his party, People's Front. While some would say that their government has far less gridlock, the price of this is a government that has corrupt leaders, invades foreign countries, and oppresses homosexuals. The things they are be able to pass with so much more efficiency are things many of their constituents don't even want passed .. If it weren't for the free press telling us what our representatives did, corruption would run even more rampant than it does today.
Of course, the transparency that a free press provides is not exclusive to elected representatives. It is equally important that U-S citizens are informed about the actions of the members of government they don't elect. Of course, these agencies often don't have the same transparency rules that the electable branches do, making for some necessary dirty work. The controversial organization WikiLeaks is likely the most effective news outlet focusing on this aforementioned dirty work. Though WikiLeaks has made government's job far more difficult, they did so to the benefit of its citizens. A democracy is not supposed to work under secrecy. If the parts of our government unbeholden to transparency and ethics rules are able to function with confidentiality, they can commit atrocities, like they did in Guantanamo Bay. WikiLeaks, however, served as a check on this injustice, publishing documents of it for every man, woman, and child in the world to see. Many were outraged by these injustices and sought to rectify them, with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain endorsing the proposal to shut down the camp. Although the camp remains open, people are at least knowledgeable of its atrocities thanks to a free press. While governments not kept in check by a free press are able to function with a good deal of efficacy, behind that 1984-esque veil of an efficient government, lies oppression and atrocity.
When Jefferson and his fellow founding fathers dreamed up the American Experiment, they kept in mind a system of checks and balances. This is often interpreted merely in the idea of each of our three branches checking. each other, but I would .argue they had more in mind. A check that could be controlled by anybody who knew how to read, the free press. This check has been the most instrumental to the experiments success. How would people know what the people they elect to represent them do, or from whom they take money? How would people now whether their military is representing .American values of integrity while fighting overseas? The answer to all of these questions is, they wouldn't. Though. a free press is often the subject of criticism by those in power, the democracy they serve would not be nearly as successful without it.
Luke O’Brien, Grade 8 – Loyalsock
" ... were it up to me to decide whether we had a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a second to prefer the latter." These words were written by none other than Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Edward Carrington about free speech. The letter was written on the eve of the French Revolution. In the letter, Jefferson s saying that he would rather live in a world with news and freedom of expression but no government, rather than a world with government but no news or free speech. It is astounding how one of our founding fathers, who helped establish the government, would prefer free speech and news over the government. However, I do agree with Jefferson. The media keeps the government in check, and we need freedom of the press and freedom of speech in today's society.
A quote that I have seen before emphasizes Jefferson's point. It states, "First they came for the journalists and I did not speak out-because I was not a journalist. We have no idea what they did after that." Although it is meant to be comedic, it does prove a point. Without tile media, the government would be left to its own devices, free to do whatever it wanted. It is basically leaving a toddler alone in a room full of valuables, hoping he doesn't ruin anything, and let him do whatever he wanted without anyone being aware of what he was doing. No parent or responsible adult would do that to a toddler, so why would that be the reasonable thing to do to our country? We need the media, but we also need good, honest reporters who report the facts, with no bias. In today's society, with so many important national and international events happening every day, we need to know what’s going on in the world and our country. Some people may think that it's no big deal to get rid of the media. But think about it -that means no news stations, no newspapers, no nothing-we would be completely oblivious to the world around us. Consider the Watergate Scandal-Richard Nixon was caught breaking into the democratic headquarters and stealing information, among other things. Without the press, we never would have discovered and exposed him for all of the terrible things that he did. With good, honest reporters, and news, citizens of the United States can be aware and active in today's society.
Jefferson's quote could also take a metaphorical turn. Newspapers represent free speech, and the government could represent the obstruction, or restriction on that. Although most people will agree with his quote if you think about it in that way, most people think about it in a literal sense, and disagree with the quote. Why? We have an almost blind trust in the government, we think that since they were elected into the government, they won't make mistakes. But people make mistakes. However, some people might try to cover their mistakes up. That’s where we need freedom of speech. If someone in the government messes up, and tries to cover it up, that
could backfire on the whole country, which could cause disasters as severe as war. But if the press can reveal the mistake, there are ways for it to be corrected; then it all could turn out better. Without free speech and free press, it would be hard to get anything across, and would also limit expression and creativity, which can make people feel trapped, and could even lead to rebellion against the government. Free speech is one of the most important things we have, and we can not let it be taken away from us.
Thomas Jefferson's quote truly made me reflect on free speech and how important that right is to all American citizens. We truly take it for granted, but if it was taken away from us, we would be furious. Free speech is vital because it keeps the government from getting out of control, and we need free speech and press in society. It is hard to stress how important the first amendment is because no one has ever taken it away from us. Someday, maybe we should try living without free speech ,or the media, only for a day, so everyone could see how important free speech and free press truly are.
Kate Richards, Grade 7 – Loyalsock
The Rights of Freedom
The was December 15, 1971,
also the day that changed all Americans,
The First amendment was done.
Rights were changed and molded,
For everyone to agree,
Some rights were Free Speech,
Others Free Press and Free Society.
Free speech menas you have the right,
to say waht you choose,
But some things will be consequential,
In which the laws might refuse.
Free Press is also a right we have,
To publish anything,
but you will be in trouble,
If it offends another human being.
Free Society is a law,
to live your life how you decide,
But you can’t tell others how to live,
And take their living pride.
All rights are important,
Especially these three,
Because the constitution states,
“These rights secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves
and our posterity.”
These rights are so important,
Without them America wouldn’t be the same,
We all changed and transformed,
Oh what a country we became!
Alice Ravert, Grade 5 – McCall
Zachary Wagner-Pizza, Grade 7 – Loyalsock
Muireann Tran, Grade 7 – Williamsport
Give them speech
Let them preach
Liberty in society
Although gives the government great anxiety
The right to be an individual
Out of the blue a voice may come through
With a new idea
that could change very view
...Of the world we live
Fulfilled with men that may strive
With words to give
And ideas conjured to thrive
Let the woman and men
Speak their minds
Give the American a book and pen
And accept perspectives of all kinds
Brynlie French, Grade 7 – Loyalsock
They can tear up nations
They can build up people
Fix up relationships
Just say it
Just say it
As long as you’re not yelling fire
Or it’s not you being a liar
Just say it
Just say it
As long as you’re not hurting others
or trying to force each other
It don’t mean that there aren’t consequences
But that’s only because we are all opinionated
Control the tv not the world
That's what free speech is
Come on now
Use it for the better
Clean up all the beaches
March for our Lives
watch people’s guns
Love has no labels
said Rosa Parks
and thats whats going on so far
The news comes on Sunday
You see everything they say
Some things you can’t believe
They even put in a magazine
But they have have rights too
They can do what they want to do
Just say it
Just say it
Tell the truth
To anyone that's listening
Just say it
Just say it
The government can't fix it
It’s the free press deal they deal with
And in a free society
We know what we want to believe
We read it
We say it aloud
We have free speech
We have a free society
Just say it
Just say it
We have free speech
A free society
Maria Blas, Grade 7 – Loyalsock