President Donald Trump has made his position on people who burn the American flag pretty clear. He Tweeted in November: Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag—if they do, there must be consequences—perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail! And many years ago, you could actually get punished for doing so.
In 1984, a demonstrator, Gregory Johnson, burned a flag at the Republican Convention as he and others chanted:”America, the red, white, and blue, we spit on you”. He was sentenced to a year in jail and a $2000 fine.
But times have changed. Now almost no one is willing to protect the flag or what it stands for. In fact, the Supreme Court ruled that burning the flag was “symbolic speech” and therefore protected under the First Amendment. Whilst we should all be supporting the First Amendment, the idea that a physical action should be classified as Free Speech seems wrong. Why is not hitting someone a form, of symbolic speech? Both the act of hitting and the burning of a flag are designed to promote hurt in others, aren’t they?
The fact that burning the flag represents destroying what America stands for, but then expecting to be protected by the rights that this country (and by association this flag) is the act of a coward. If these snowflakes really thought that burning a flag would do anything other than endearing themselves to other snowflakes, then they would make a principled stand: go to China and burn a Chinese flag, see what happens. If they really believe the American flag is oppressive, then surely they believe the Chinese one more so. They should get out there and show the world what they think. Will they? Of course not. They are cowards who would rather let people who do believe in the Flag protect them as they bite the hand that protects them. A disgrace.
Gregory Johnson, a demonstrator at the 1984 Republican Convention, burned a flag as part of a protest. Johnson and his fellow protesters chanted, “America, the red, white, and blue, we spit on you” while the flag burned. He was convicted of destroying the flag , sentenced to a year in jail and fined $2,000. Texas thus did exactly what the president-elect wants concerning flag burning.
A five-member majority of the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning constituted “symbolic speech” protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, Johnson burned the flag in 1984 to express a series of political views.
The court ruled that prohibiting this speech did not and was unlikely to prevent violence. As to national unity, Justice William Brennan noted an earlier statement by the court:
If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
Concurring with the opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:
Though symbols often are what we ourselves make of them, the flag is constant in expressing beliefs Americans share, beliefs in law and peace and that freedom which sustains the human spirit. The case here today forces recognition of the costs to which those beliefs commit us. It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.