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Flag Desecration Should Be Outlawed

Flag Desecration Should Be Outlawed

On August 22, 1984, Texas resident Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested for burning an American flag during a protest of the Republican National Convention. Johnson had violated a Texas flag desecration law officially known as the Texas Venerated Objects law, which outlawed “intentionally or knowingly desecrating a national flag” (Goldstein 197).

Johnson took his case to the United States Supreme Court. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled, by a five to four vote, that the Texas law was unconstitutional (Goldstein 202). Since that 1989 ruling, several attempts have been made to amend the United States Constitution to make flag desecration illegal. However, as of yet, no such amendment has passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The amendment itself has been written and proposed because of one simple question: Should flag desecration, specifically flag burning, be outlawed?

The proposed amendment is as follows: “The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States” (S.J. RES. 14 128). Its last action was seen on March 29, 2000 when it failed in the Senate by a vote of 63-37 (Yahoo! Politics Bill Search).

The amendment’s proponent’s main argument is that the flag is a well-beloved symbol of freedom and liberty, cherished by many, that should not have to suffer desecration of any form. Stephan Ross, a Holocaust survivor who testified before the House of Representative’s Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, said that the government should not…

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…bsp; Right now, eighty percent of Americans might support a constitutional amendment banning flag desecration, but fifty years from now our descendants might look back and wonder, “What were they thinking?”

In conclusion, I think that flag burning is reprehensible. My great-grandfather was a war veteran, and my great-uncle Theodore is buried in Holland, where he died defending this country during World War II. However, I believe that my relatives fought so that my rights as an American would be protected — and that includes my right to burn the flag in protest if I so choose to do so. An amendment that would allow Congress to prohibit flag desecration is wrong. Flag desecration, though a highly offensive act, is a constitutional right that should be granted to all Americans to exercise as they see fit.

I’ll Die for My Confederate Flag

“America isn’t easy! America is advanced citizenship. You’ve got to want it bad. Cause it’s going to put up a fight. It’s going to say, you want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil…..Who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now, show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the land of the free” (Michael Douglas, playing President Allen Shepherd, in The American President).

As Michael Douglas so eloquently puts it, America is the land of the brave and free! But like most things, one has to stand up and be ready to fight for his rights as a citizen. Most citizens would agree that under the First Amendment, they are allowed the right to express themselves openly. The terms under which freedom of speech should be prohibited is, however, questionable and varies from each individual. Recently, African Americans challenged white southerners to question exactly when the right of free speech should be restricted. The Confederate flag has caused much controversy over the past few years, but where is the controversy stemming from and should there really be a controversy? The First Amendment gives all Americans the right to express themselves however they see fit. Therefore, white Southerners have the right to display the Confederate flag.

The history of the Confederate flag stretches far beyond its use by the Ku Klux Klan and skinheads. In 1863, the Stars and Bars, the First National flag of the Confederacy, was created. It was flown from the bows of Confederate Warships as a navy jack, where it received its most modern name-Confederate Navy Jack. To the Confederate states, this flag was a symbol of their rights as independent states. Following the Civil War, the flag represented the South’s lost cause against the North: it was the Southerner’s way of paying homage to their struggle. For the sons, wives, widows, daughters and relatives of the Confederate soldiers, the flag became a sacred tribute to the Confederate dead (Springer 7).

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