The burning of the American flag is one of the most grotesque acts committed by anyone. So many have died protecting this country while wearing that flag on their shoulder. The people who burn the flag in the streets of protest are some of the most uninformed, ignorant, people in this country, but that doesn’t mean they should be punished.
Donald Trump tweeted yesterday the following:
While many will agree with this sentiment, they don’t understand the true meaning of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. We are afforded freedom in the United States that is to be protected by the Bill of Rights and that includes the burning of the American Flag.
First off, the flag is property. It is a piece of cloth that is sewn together in order to represent something. Once I purchase or possess that cloth it is now my property. Whatever I want to do with it at that point is my business and nobody else’s.
Second, the 1st Amendment affords me the right to burn this property in protest and be protected from prosecution or other acts of Government. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whom the right lauds as their savior, agrees with this sentiment.
The reason we live in a free country is this point exactly. Nobody is King, and tyranny is not supposed to exist in the United States. Therefore, you can’t jail or fine people from doing something that is protected under free speech or expression.
The burning of the flag is a demonstration of a free society. We live in a country where issues are discussed and debated among people. Sometimes that debate turns into expression and the burning of the flag is a symbol that gets the point across.
Scalia is right. If I were King I would throw them all in jail and torture the hell out of them for this treasonist act. However, that is not the system we have built and govern under. We value our freedom and that is protected from people like Donald Trump.