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Flag-Burning is No Crime

Stripes and stars forever, right? Well, what exactly does that mean? The American Flag can be seen almost anywhere. From the high-school, to the ball park, and even in our homes, the American flag stands as a symbol of all that is good and true in America. When one thinks of the flag, they usually think of the blood that was shed for this country. It was shed so that we could have liberties, such as, freedom of speech and expression, which fall under the first amendment rights of the Constitution. However, when you think of a burning flag, what comes to mind? One might say it shows disrespect and hatred to a country that has given so much. In the case of Texas v. Johnson, Gregory Lee Johnson was accused of desecrating a sacred object, but, his actions were protected by the First Amendment. Although his actions may have been offensive, he did not utter fighting words. By burning the flag, Johnson did not infringe upon another’s natural human rights. He was simply expressing his outrage towards the government, which is within the jurisdiction of the First Amendment.

The colors red, white and blue did not have any real significance in America until their rights for freedom and territory were challenged. “The American flag played no significant role in American life until the Civil War, during the fight at Fort Sumter” (Goldstein 1). Then, to all northerners it became a symbol of pride and an object of “public adoration” (1). The flag was held in such high esteem that the Flag Protection Movement was created in 1890 so that there would be no commercialism of the object(2). The FPM felt as though politicians and merchants were “prostituting” the flag so, in 1900 they joined with the American Flag Association and made a set…

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…ot, it allows us to express ourselves freely and to share with others our uniqueness. It is this right and this freedom that allows us to be free in our daily speech and happenings. So, ask yourself, if this right was restricted would this be the “land of the free and the home of the brave?”

“The words of the first amendment are simple and majestic: ‘Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.’ The proposed constitutional amendment would undermine that fundamental liberty.”

-Senator Ted Kennedy

Works Cited

Goldstein, Robert Justin. Burning The Flag. Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 1996.

(A) “A Brief History of Flag Burning.” Esquilax. 4pp. Online. Internet. 16 Nov. 1999.

(B) “Texas v. Johnson Certiorari To The Court Of Criminal Appeals Of Texas.” Blacula. (1989): 20pp. Online. Internet. 16 Nov. 1999.

Flag Burning: The Debate Continues

Abstract Several times in our nation’s history, Congress has introduced a bill that would provide for banning flag desecration. Each time, however, the Supreme Court ruled that this act was protected by the First Amendment freedom of speech rights. The debate over this topic continues, with both sides arguing for “the good of the country.”

In a 1943 landmark Supreme Court case, Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote, “The freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much” (qtd. in Jacoby el al. 20). This concept can be applied in the debate on whether to amend the Constitution to ban flag burning. When one considers the Constitution and the symbolic meaning of the United States flag, he or she can see that this is one issue that does mean a great deal to the American public. The freedom to differ is of extreme importance in this case, which can be seen as one reviews the reasoning for committing such an act and what it might mean beyond the desecration of a revered national symbol.

The burning of an American flag is not necessarily anti-American or unpatriotic. Sometimes, the greatness and majesty of the flag is better portrayed in the powerful political and societal statement of destroying it. This act can convey the feeling of the American people that their government is not the body it should be or that it is not doing the will of the people. This is probably one of the most emotional actions they can take to get the government’s attention. Some of these protestors may even love the flag as much as those who are for banning flag burning, but the burners want to emphasize the seriousness of their complaint. The act of burning a flag may be the people’s way of telling the government that it is co…

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…:// (11 Nov. 1998).

Relin, David Oliver. “A Burning Question.” Scholastic Update 21 Sept. 1990: 17-18.

“Senate Debate on Flag Burning: Senator Feingold (D-WI).” Esquilax Productions: The Flag-Burning Page. 8 Dec. 1995. (11 Nov. 1998).

“Speaking With One Voice.” Citizens Flag Alliance. 12 Dec. 1997. (12 Nov. 1998).

“Statement of George E. Bushnell, Jr. President of the American Bar Association.” Esquilax Productions: The Flag-Burning Page. (11 Nov. 1998).

Wall, James M. “The Dynamics of Flag-Burning.” The Christian Century 106 (1989): 643-44.

“Where is the Rehnquist Court Headed?” Harper’s June 1989: 35-39, 42, 44-47.

“Who’s Desecrating the Flag?” The Christian Century 84 (1967): 771-72.

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