For my first interview, I asked a 46-year old male “Would you approve of the following law if Congress were considering it?” and read the rights from the First Amendment. At the beginning, this subject held a questioned face, but after taking a minute to process what I had just asked him, he replied with a smile, “Yes, of course, I would approve of the First Amendment.” This subject supports all the listed rights in the First Amendment, with no doubt that all should be included. His explanation detailed the importance of “freedom of religion,” due to his investment in religious practices, etc., and “freedom of speech,” because he feels individuals should be able to hold their own opinions and to be able to voice those opinions. I asked him if he would like to share his political leanings for an assignment in my Introduction to Media course, and he informed me that his political leaning is Republican.
Shortly after, I interviewed a 44-year old woman and asked the same question. Her answer differed, due to the fact that she is not politically involved. She replied, “Does our country not already hold a law similar to what you just said?” Then, I nodded and asked her if she had any comments on the rights I had just mentioned. She shook her head, saying, “I believe in the rights you mentioned. They all have an essential purpose.” She did familiarize herself with the First Amendment because she knew the rights I had listed were already a part of a law. When asking her if she would say aloud her political leaning, she told me she is registered as a Democrat; however, she is not interested in keeping up with politics and prefers to stay out of political discussions, etc.
The next subject I interviewed was a 24-year old female who identified herself as a Liberal Democrat. When asking her the same question she knew right away that I was referencing the First Amendment. I told her “Yes, you’re right,” and then proceeded to ask her if she had any comments, positive or negative, to add on any of the rights listed in the First Amendment. She gave high recognition to the “freedom of speech” and “freedom of the press” as a result of her desire to be a full-time writer. With a strong belief in expressing individual views and opinions, this subject genuinely feels the First Amendment is essential and fair to individuals in the U.S.
My next subject was a 21-year-old female who labeled her political leaning as a Republican. I asked her the same interview question, and she said, “I would definitely consider the law.” Then, I asked her if she had any questions or comments about the specifics of the law, and her reply spoke on the “right of the people peaceably to assemble,” saying, “I believe this would help individuals fight for things they believe in, but I also think it needs more context about what is peaceable.” Her mind never clicked to realize I was referring to the First Amendment, but after notifying her about the point of my interview, she informed me that the First Amendment had never seemed so vague until this interview, so I suppose she believes the First Amendment should be more in-depth when referring to each right given to the people of the U.S.
Finally, I interviewed a 16-year-old male who currently identifies as an Independent, mainly due to the fact that he’s not sure where he would like to place himself. He believes in learning more about political education before leaning more to one side, and he informed me that he has not been deeply educating himself about the current administration of the government. Although, when I asked him the question pertaining to the First Amendment, he knew right away what I was referring to. He said, “I’m in high school, so I kind of learn about the First Amendment in every single one of my history classes.” As for now, he supports the First Amendment and told me that it allows people to live freely, but within a reasonable boundary, for the sake of the country’s safety.
The one pattern I noticed throughout this interview process was education level, or rather being in school at the time of my interview. Both the 24-year-old and the 16-year-old are currently in either high school or college, and they both knew the context of the First Amendment as soon as I asked them the question. This is probably due to them both being in school and learning about the amendment in several of their classes, as it is a highly-prominent amendment to the history of the U.S. and to the current state of the U.S. The other participants either didn’t catch my reference to the First Amendment, or it took them a minute to recognize what I was referring to.
Overall, I found that my participants had very reasonable statements concerning the First Amendment. They took time to answer my questions, and when I asked them if they had any comments on the amendment, they gave excellent remarks on the context of the law. Labeling most as very important, and others as needing more attention, they allowed me to see that people care about the laws in their country, and they really want what’s best. The only red flag I noticed in my interview was that some of the participants were not aware of the First Amendment; however, when I told them I was referring to it, they had a lot of opinions, meaning even though they are not highly-informed, they still held personal opinions about the freedoms listed.
In a 2018 national survey over attitudes toward the First Amendment, (link at the bottom) it was found that “three out of four Americans (77%) are supportive of the First Amendment and the freedoms it guarantees.” This is relevant to my interview process because all of my participants were in favor of the First Amendment rights, even if they had a few questions concerning a few of the freedoms listed in the amendment. Through my interview process and reading about the recent national survey of First Amendment opinions, I learned that the majority of Americans are advocators for the amendment and what it entails.