It’s that day of the year that everyone whips out their old American flag T-shirt to attend the local parade, grill out and play corn hole with the family in the backyard, and end the night looking up at a brilliant display of fireworks.
This day to rep our red, white and blue represents so much more than just a day off work. July 4, 1776 was the day that the Continental Congress edited and approved the final version of the Declaration of Independence. And out of the 13 colonies becoming independent states apart from Britain, came the Constitution – the guidebook for how to run this country we call the United States of America.
The First Amendment of the Constitution states, “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.”
Freedom of the press is an issue that’s important enough to be addressed in the first amendment. It’s a big deal. It’s very necessary. It has evolved to even being the simple ability to take a picture and post it on social media. It’s a freedom that many countries in the world don’t have. Many governments are not being held accountable and are restricting information from its citizens.
Freedom House states on their website that “according to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press index, only 14 percent of the world’s citizens live in countries that enjoy a free press. In the rest of the world, governments as well as non-state actors control the viewpoints that reach citizens and brutally repress independent voices who aim to promote accountability, good governance, and economic development.”
One country that is marked on the map in purple as having a not free press is Afghanistan. From 1996-2001 photography was banned under the Taliban rule. For the past 10 years, photojournalists have experienced a revolutionary season to build their local photojournalism, but they are now facing a time of uncertainty as the international media pulls out of Afghanistan.
Creative Activists, Mo Scarpelli and Alexandria Bombach are currently editing their feature film about this issue. Here at Creative Visions, we are totally inspired by their work. They see the importance of a free press. Their passion is contagious. Watch their trailer and learn about photojournalists in Afghanistan fighting to be the mouthpiece to the rest of the world.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 1,060 journalists have been killed since 1992, 404 journalists have been forced into exile since 2009, and 211 journalists were jailed just in 2013.
So, today while we celebrate our nation’s independence, let’s remember the privilege of our freedom. It’s a rarity.
Happy 4th of July!