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.
“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.”