The First Amendment has five freedoms embedded in it.
Americans have the freedom to complain (and loudly).
We have the freedom to go to the worship service of our choosing or to avoid it altogether.
We have the freedom to look our politicians in the eye and tell them we disagree with them.
If enough of us disagree, we can gather and make a movement!
The Landmark and its peers can cover this without censure.
The freedoms in the First Amendment, like all of those in the Constitution, are not static. They sit there on paper, but it is through our actions that they live. The First Amendment needs lovers of liberty, because there are those who look at the First Amendment and want to put fetters on it.
This isn’t new. And it runs through our history. The ink was not even dry on the Bill of Rights when in 1798 the Sedition Act made it illegal to speak against the government. The Comstock Laws were used to suppress education about women’s health. Eugene Debs went from receiving almost a million votes as a presidential candidate to being sent to prison in 1918 for speaking against U.S. involvement in the war in Europe. Doctor King and his allies faced dogs and firehoses in Selma.
Freedom continues to need its defenders. We are in a period where those who are pushing against those five freedoms in the First Amendment – those who want to chain our freedoms, those who see a bird and want it caged – are gaining power.
Through false pretexts, they are happy to squeeze and constrain to intimidate those they fear and hate. And it is not just Florida; it is everywhere, where the loudest want to leverage their momentum so that others are quiet. From trans bans to drag bans to book bans, it’s spreading widely. Lovers of liberty must all stand against those who want to see our rights taken away.
Thankfully, leaders in the Illinois Legislature hear the call of those who want to make sure the First Amendment is protected. For example, House Bill 2789 is set to make Illinois the first state in the nation to mandate open access to materials through legislation. We can help by contacting our representatives to voice support for HB 2789.
It’s not just the legislatures. We all have a role to play. I am running for re-election to the library board because I want to use my skills and experience to help the Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library be as well run as possible and to meet the needs of the community.
But that desire is driven by these larger ideals as a lover of liberty and justice. I hope the voters of the village of Brookfield allow me to continue pushing for this liberty guaranteed by the five freedoms for all of us.
J. Edgar Mihelic is a candidate for the Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library Board of Trustees.