ATHENS, GA- Today may be April Fool’s Day, but according to the Online News Association/Society of Professional Journalists (ONA/SPJ), the one thing you don’t want to mess with- your rights. Today the group hosted the “First Amendment Free Food Festival” in order to raise awareness for the importance of our first amendment rights. There was free pizza; but at a cost. In order to receive your slice, you had to sign away your first amendment rights.
The first amendment gives us the freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly. Participants gave all of these things up in order to receive their pizza. They were told where to sit, what they could say, and even which kind of pizza they could have. “Commander” David Schick was in charge of the event and says the first amendment is first for a reason. He says, “the reason it’s first is because it’s the most important. That was above all what the frame workers wanted.”
Schick says it’s important to be aware of our rights so we can defend them. He says, “There’s kids who get kicked out of school for social media posts. They get arrested for certain social media posts that may or may not have constituted a threat…it’s a crack down on free speech.”
Lesley Hauer is a member of the ONA/SPJ. She says some people don’t even know what their first amendment rights are. She says, “If you don’t know what they are, how can you know what to expect from them?”
Some people chose to turn down free pizza and hold on to their rights. Hauer says, “If people come up and say no we don’t want free food for our first amendment rights then that’s a good thing because they’re learning that your rights are more important than free food.”