As controversy swirls around the NFL over the players taking a knee during the national anthem, a photo in recent weeks went viral of Seattle Seahawks player Michael Bennett burning the American flag in the locker room. Now, this photo has been proven to be a fake and, to be absolutely clear, Michael Bennett did not burn the American flag in the locker room. This does make one wonder: Should burning the American flag be illegal?
In 1984, Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested after he burned an American flag outside the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. He burned it because he was protesting Ronald Reagan’s policies. He was arrested for desecrating a venerated object and was later convicted. Johnson appealed, saying that flag burning was a form of symbolic speech and was protected by the Constitution. His case would eventually reach the Supreme Court and was ruled on in 1989. The court found, in his favor, that flag burning was protected under the First Amendment.
Those who want flag burning to be illegal do not see it as free speech, but a form of hate speech. They feel when you burn an American flag, you are not just disrespecting the country, but disrespecting all those who have given their lives for this country throughout its history. People against flag burning also point out that nowhere in the Constitution does it say flag burning is legal and should be protected, so it should not be unconstitutional to make a law against flag burning.
People opposed to making flag burning illegal point to the Supreme Court and say they already ruled, and flag burning is legal under the Constitution – flag burning is free speech. They feel they are not disrespecting the country when they are burning a flag, but showing their unhappiness with how the government is doing business, and that being able to burn a flag is one of the things that make this country great. In a lot of other countries, you could be imprisoned for burning a flag, but not here.
Burning an American flag is very upsetting to many of us. That flag is a symbol of all that is good and hopeful in this country. That flag has given hope and comfort to people, not just here, but all over the world as well. The American flag represents freedom, and part of that freedom is allowing someone to burn it. That is the current law of the land. Will it be changed someday? We will have to wait and see.
CNN covered President-Elect Trump tweeting that flag burning should be illegal:
Should we make burning the American flag illegal? Is burning the flag disrespectful to all those who have died protecting this country, or is burning the flag exercising one of the freedoms they died protecting?
Yes, flag burning should be illegal
Those who want flag burning to be illegal say it is a form of hate speech, not free speech. They feel that flag burning is the ultimate disrespect to this country and should not be allowed.
Personally i think flag burning, or destruction should be illegal. i think it one of the most vile things someone can do.
— Paul Clay (@paulc49RCP) September 20, 2017
I hope our @POTUS makes flag burning illegal, I'm sick and tired of seeing this and snowflakes claim it's protected by free speech
— proudNavyVet (@joe_burdick) September 20, 2017
Personally I think flag burning (Not just the US flag, but all flags) needs to be illegal in the US.
— Boba Fett (@PocketBoba) October 8, 2017
Make flag burning illegal. Its hate speech, not freedom of.
— Teddy_da_Bear (@TeddydaBear1962) September 25, 2017
No, flag burning should not be illegal
Those who oppose making flag burning illegal say this matter was decided by the Supreme Court decades ago. Flag burning is protected by the First Amendment.
Free speech means I support their right to BURN the flag. Eat that for breakfast!
— Steve Topper (@Steve_Yo_) October 18, 2017
Following the Constitution? Trump wants to make flag burning illegal – a direct violation of the First Amendment.
— Travis Talks (@_Travis_Talks_) October 18, 2017
banning people from speaking at colleges and trying to make flag burning illegal are both against the first amendment. just sayin
— Nathaniel Allfrey (@allfreynate) September 24, 2017
Hey I am pro flag burning wel not pro it but I don't want to make it illegal etc I protect rights but I wouldn't protest anthem
— NY conservative (@nyconservative7) September 24, 2017
So, do you think flag burning should be illegal?