Weird History

All The Things That Are And Aren't Protected By The First Amendment

Though it was ratified in 1791, the First Amendment feels more relevant than ever. Debates go back and forth about what freedom of speech covers and what demonstrators have the right to say about civil rights issues.

At its core, the First Amendment protects American citizens from government punishment because of the opinions they express. Some people question how far free speech protection goes. Are people really allowed to get together in the name of what most would deem hate? The answer is: sort of. For example, it isn't illegal to express bigoted views or to speak out against the government, and Americans are free to wear Nazi armbands and use racial slurs. 

There are some freedom of speech limitations, though, and it's important to know the ins and outs of what the First Amendment protects.