In 1207, when a dispute developed between Dominic de Guzman (later known as St. Dominic, founder of the Dominican Order) and the Albigensians, books from both sides were thrown into the fire. Pedro Berruguete (a Spanish painter) created a panel, c. 1495, to depict that event. This image depicts a section of that panel. Online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Say the words "First Amendment" to Americans and most will immediately think "Free Speech." But the first amendment encompasses much more than merely allowing us to speak what we think.
First Amendment rights protect the entire process of thought and the creation and expression of ideas. When we think, our minds use reason to create ideas.
We express those ideas in many different ways:
All these actions, and expressions, are protected by the first amendment.
This story will help explain why America's founding fathers put freedom of thought and expression as the first right in the Bill of Rights. We can also look to Thomas Jefferson for an answer.
As a proponent of a free country and a free people, Jefferson realized that oppression of ideas had been a cause of persecution in Europe for centuries.