The First Amendment was compromised in many ways in 2011. Perhaps one of the most troubling ways it was compromised, if you can really rank them against each other, was through the arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests.
This suppression did not go unnoticed by Reporters Without Borders, who recently released their 2011-2012 global Press Freedom Index. The index reveals that the US has fallen 27 places since the advent of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its subsequent crackdown.
The US is now ranked 47th in the world on the Press Freedom Index. This steep decline is troubling, but it should not come as a surprise to those who have followed the coverage of the Occupy movement.
The people of this movement, even if you do not agree with their ideas, should be applauded for the courage they have displayed in the face of police brutality and governmental complacency. The reporters who strive to provide our nation with coverage of this movement should also be applauded for their bravery.
The fact that reporters are being arrested along with protestors should indicate to every American that freedom of speech is no longer valued by our government. They have sent this message to our nation’s police officers, and those officers have relayed that information to the public in the form of brutal attacks and arrests.
If our nation is to endure as a free society, a place where free speech is valued and reporters can practice their profession, then change needs to happen at the top. It needs to happen in D.C; it needs to happen in city halls; and it needs to happen in local police stations.
We need to vote into office Americans who respect the values our nation was founded on. Only then will we be able to ensure that our nation remains a place where freedom of speech is valued.