In honor of Constitution Day on Sept. 17, the Keene State College journalism department sponsored the “Got Rights? Constitution Day Panel.” The panel consisted of various individuals involved in political, journalistic and law fields. Panelists included state representatives, one of the Keene Sentinel editors, and an assistant senior attorney general.

The panel answered questions posed by the moderator and the audience; topics included WikiLeaks and Anonymous as journalists, the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking, censorship, government secrets, and most importantly; civil liberties and what they mean.

The room was filled to the brim with both students, faculty, and community members, all clamoring to get their questions answered by the panel. People who attended were given their own copy of the US Constitution to peruse and use to their benefit.

The panel was the perfect opportunity for Keene State College to examine the Constitution, the rights it grants and its impact on not only journalists, but on every segment of society. The influence and goals of the media in terms of freedom of speech is quietly changing, and the panel brought these issues to light for many in the crowd. While the media is a good way to stay informed, it may not be the best option.

The panel’s discussion of issues highlighted the struggles Americans are facing with their own government, the Constitution, and their rights. It provided an outlet for those on the panel to clarify what they believe the rights and responsibilities of both individuals and the media are. The ideas that the panelists tried to hone in on were for everyone to be informed and draw your own conclusions.

These are ideas that every person, whether college-age or otherwise, should take to heart. So little emphasis is placed on the value of knowing and understanding your rights granted by the Constitution, and because of this it is becoming more easier to take them away. Without knowledge of our rights, they can be taken away before we even know they are gone.

Every panelist stressed the idea of the ignorant and uninformed being taken advantage of, especially when it comes to rights. “The Got Rights?” panel will hopefully be the first step for many students in learning, understanding, and using their rights when confronted with issues. The more people understand them, the less quiet they will remain when they are threatened. Ignorance only breeds complacency, and things like the “Got Rights?” panel will continue the quest of ending this trend.


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