First Amendment Discussion Starter: Freedom of Expression

A group that preaches hate wants to hold a public rally at a historic site. The Constitution protects free speech, but what about messages that are unpleasant or hurtful—do we have to hear those, too? A park ranger offers his take on these controversial visitors.

"Freedom of Expression" Discussion Questions

  1. What are the protections of the 1st Amendment?
  2. What happened in Maryland at the Antietam battlefield?
  3. Does the 1st Amendment protect all forms of speech? Can anybody say anything they want, wherever they want, to whomever they want?
  4. Can the government restrict ideas or speech considered hurtful, even before they are expressed?
  5. According to the National Park Ranger, why should the KKK be allowed to hold a rally at the Antietam Battlefield?
  6. What does the National Park Ranger mean by the phrase “marketplace of ideas”? Why is it important to have a “marketplace of ideas”“?

About the Living News Classroom Discussion Videos

Performed at the National Constitution Center, Living News is a fast paced theatrical production that introduces current and controversial issues to middle and high school students.

Excerpts from the performance have been filmed and made available for use in the classroom—these video, along with the discussion questions provided, can help educators introduce or continue conversations on constitutional topics.

Classroom Resources

Living News Classroom Teaching Materials

For an in-depth analysis of the first amendment, check out the Interactive Constitution, a new, free, online teaching tool that delivers scholarship from top constitutional experts right to your classroom!

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