First Amendment to the Fore at MCC

Daily Herald reporter Kerry Lester wrote a column about the First Amendment and challenges to it revolving around McHenry County College this week.

She starts at an appropriate place, the amendment itself:

“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.”

She finds three elements—four, if you count Freedom of the Press–of the First Amendment at work this past week at MCC

  • the censure of the two MCC trustees for changing their minds and being bold enough to admit it at a public meeting where it might do some good (the latter my observation, not hers),
  • objections formalized in a petition campaign by Latinos Unidos, the Latino student organization, to the college’s having rented its auditorium to the Illinois Minuteman Project for lectures on ways to deal with illegal immigration,
  • MCC President Walt Packard’s defense of the Minutemen’s right to assembly, and
  • the locked doors and closed corridors around the auditorium before and after the Minutemen’s meeting, not to mention the prohibition of signs.

Lester concludes:

“It’s both ironic and fitting to me that such explosive First Amendment issues–freedom of speech and the right to assemble–have come to a head at a place of learning.

“Neither problem is solved, neither issue is over. But pushing aside politics and mudslinging for a moment, MCC is a place where individuals feel the right and need to speak their minds. For someone who’s work is based on another part of that encompassing First Amendment — the freedom of the press — that’s the bright spot from a complicated week.”

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