Chalk Day celebrates right to free speech

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 Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

Illustration by Alexandra Nelipa

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and of the press.

By Patricia McGlamory

pmcglamory@student.alamo.edu

Imagine living in a country where authorities could forcibly stop the largest daily newspaper from printing.

It happened this week in Sudan. The government appears to be trying to impose a media blackout, the Associated Press reported Saturday.

Media in the United States are protected by the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of speech and of the press.

Chalk Day at this college celebrates First Amendment rights during National Newspaper Week Sunday-Oct. 12 and is sponsored by The Ranger staff and this college’s student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The college community is invited to express themselves by writing messages or drawing with chalk on the brick walkways in the mall from noon-2 p.m. south of Loftin Student Center. The organizations will provide the chalk and students, faculty and staff provide the artistic expression.

All forms of expression are encouraged. The sponsoring organizations ask participants to confine messages to brick walkways in the mall and to avoid the use profanity. (Yes, we recognize the irony. )

AP reported that Sunday, authorities forced Sudan’s largest newspaper Al-Intibaha to stop printing.

Sudanese news outlets reported photographers and cameramen were barred from covering weeklong protests, which began with fuel and wheat subsidy cuts. Editors said they were ordered to describe protestors as “saboteurs,” the AP reported.

Protesters say austerity measures affect the poor but leave a corrupt system where senior officials grow wealthy, the AP reported.

Al-Intibah is the latest newspaper to stop publication after several dailies were pressured by authorities. Dia Al Din Bilal, editor-in-chief of Al-Sudani newspaper, told the AP, “The government feels that its own existence is endangered and the press is playing a role in influencing public opinion … they want papers to turn into official gazettes that reflect only (the government’s) point of view with no other criticism or negative feedback.”

Other affected media are satellite networks Al-Arabiya and Sky News Arabia, along with several newspapers. Some stopped printing voluntarily to avoid government pressure.

For AP stories such as “Sudan police fire on funeral march, protestors say” and “Thousands protest as Sudan officials promise cash,” visit www.mysanantonio.com.

First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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