“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.”

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America is the bedrock on which our political, social and cultural discourse rests. In the coming weeks, readers of The Nugget will find in these pages commentary on the nature and meaning of these 45 crucial words, starting in this edition with some challenging thoughts from retired attorney Pete Shepherd of Sisters (page 21). Should robocalls be considered “free speech” under First Amendment protection? The implications of how we look at that everyday question are… interesting.

Shepherd is one of four panelists who will lead a lively — and entertaining —discussion of the First Amendment on Thursday, October 24, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Sisters Fire Hall.

Freedom of expression, freedom of conscience — how do these play out in law? How do they play out in a culture where some attempt to silence or “cancel” expression they don’t like? How do we promote civility in our discourse without shackling free speech?

These questions are trickier than they might first appear. The forthcoming columns and the community discussion will wrestle with them — and the Sisters community is invited to participate. After all, it’s OUR right.

Jim Cornelius

Editor in Chief