Margaret Engel

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The First Amendment Can Take a Joke

Filed under: First Amendment Issues, Political Challenges

Rendering of the new Newseum building, Washington, D.C.

Margaret Engel is the managing editor of the Newseum, which will re-open Oct. 15, 2007 in new headquarters on the Mall in Washington, D.C.. She wrote this article specifically for the April 1, 2007 launch of – JS

April 1 is a lighthearted celebration in America, but joking the other 364 days often gets civic pranksters in trouble.

It's not that anything goes on April Fool's Day, it just seems that the public gets the punchline that day, before quickly returning to a grim analysis of what is and what isn't acceptable.

Although the First Amendment is supposed to defend our freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and the right to petition our government, the reality is that officialdom often can't take a joke. (more…)