Desecrating our flag should not be protected speech

Donald Trump has raised the issue of whether burning the flag should be protected as free speech under the First Amendment.  He raises a good question, because it should not be.  It has been protected speech only since 1989.

 If we wish to protest or oppose or support some governmental policy, we can peacefully picket, we can write or comment on various websites such as American Thinker, we can support candidates who share our views or run for office, we can debate, and we can engage in other forms of political activity.  But what view are we advocating by burning our flag?  It seems that the only view is to incite or provoke those of us who view our flag as something special.  It is the symbol of our country.  Burning the flag is speech in the sense that it conveys a message, but it should not be protected under the First Amendment.

Burning our flag as protected speech is a recent notion.  In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, invalidated the state laws in 48 states dealing with desecration of our flag by ruling that burning the flag is protected speech under the First Amendment.  Johnson, a member of the Communist Youth Brigade, burned our flag during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas and was prosecuted under the Texas law.  He was represented by William Kunstler, who represented, among others, the Black Panther Party, the Weather Underground, and Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur.  Chesimard killed a N.J. state trooper, Werner Foerster, and escaped to Cuba, where she lives today under the protection of the Castro regime.

After the Johnson decision, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act, 18 USC 700, et seq., which made it a federal crime to desecrate our flag.  In US v. Eichman, 496 US 310 (1990), the Supreme Court, in another 5-4 decision with the same lineup, invalidated this statute as violating the First Amendment.  Again Johnson with his pal Eichman burned our flag in D.C. to test the law.  Eichman was also a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.

Following these decisions, the House has several times passed a constitutional amendment titled "The Flag Desecration Amendment" but it was defeated in the Senate in 2006 by one vote.  It reads:

The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

The only message conveyed by burning the flag is hate and contempt for our country.  As stated by Justice Rehnquist in his dissent in Johnson:

The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another "idea" or "point of view" competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have. I cannot agree that the First Amendment invalidates the Act of Congress and the laws of 48 of the 50 States, which make criminal the public burning of the flag.

Even Justice Stevens, a noted liberal on the Court, dissented by stating:

[T]he flag is more than a proud symbol of the courage, the determination, and the gifts of nature that transformed 13 fledgling Colonies into a world power. It is a symbol of freedom, of equal opportunity, of religious tolerance, and of good will for other peoples who share our aspirations. ... The value of the flag as a symbol cannot be measured. ... The case has nothing to do with 'disagreeable ideas.' It involves disagreeable conduct that, in my opinion, diminishes the value of an important national asset, and that Johnson was punished only for the means by which he expressed his opinion, not the opinion itself.

Banning desecration of our flag does not diminish our ability and right to question and oppose any governmental polices.  Before the Johnson and Eichman cases, we were able to disagree with our government and express our opinions without burning the flag.   Before 1989 we had robust political dissent and free speech.  It seems that the only ones who needed to burn our flag to express their political opinions were Johnson and Eichman, two commies.

The First Amendment is not absolute.  You can be sued for defamation of public figures if you are reckless with the truth.

We should be able to protect the flag as the one symbol of our country as described by Justices Rehnquist and Stevens.  The First Amendment worked fine until 1989 to protect free speech without having to add burning our flag as another form of protected speech.

Donald Trump has raised the issue of whether burning the flag should be protected as free speech under the First Amendment.  He raises a good question, because it should not be.  It has been protected speech only since 1989.

 If we wish to protest or oppose or support some governmental policy, we can peacefully picket, we can write or comment on various websites such as American Thinker, we can support candidates who share our views or run for office, we can debate, and we can engage in other forms of political activity.  But what view are we advocating by burning our flag?  It seems that the only view is to incite or provoke those of us who view our flag as something special.  It is the symbol of our country.  Burning the flag is speech in the sense that it conveys a message, but it should not be protected under the First Amendment.

Burning our flag as protected speech is a recent notion.  In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, invalidated the state laws in 48 states dealing with desecration of our flag by ruling that burning the flag is protected speech under the First Amendment.  Johnson, a member of the Communist Youth Brigade, burned our flag during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas and was prosecuted under the Texas law.  He was represented by William Kunstler, who represented, among others, the Black Panther Party, the Weather Underground, and Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur.  Chesimard killed a N.J. state trooper, Werner Foerster, and escaped to Cuba, where she lives today under the protection of the Castro regime.

After the Johnson decision, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act, 18 USC 700, et seq., which made it a federal crime to desecrate our flag.  In US v. Eichman, 496 US 310 (1990), the Supreme Court, in another 5-4 decision with the same lineup, invalidated this statute as violating the First Amendment.  Again Johnson with his pal Eichman burned our flag in D.C. to test the law.  Eichman was also a member of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade.

Following these decisions, the House has several times passed a constitutional amendment titled "The Flag Desecration Amendment" but it was defeated in the Senate in 2006 by one vote.  It reads:

The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

The only message conveyed by burning the flag is hate and contempt for our country.  As stated by Justice Rehnquist in his dissent in Johnson:

The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another "idea" or "point of view" competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have. I cannot agree that the First Amendment invalidates the Act of Congress and the laws of 48 of the 50 States, which make criminal the public burning of the flag.

Even Justice Stevens, a noted liberal on the Court, dissented by stating:

[T]he flag is more than a proud symbol of the courage, the determination, and the gifts of nature that transformed 13 fledgling Colonies into a world power. It is a symbol of freedom, of equal opportunity, of religious tolerance, and of good will for other peoples who share our aspirations. ... The value of the flag as a symbol cannot be measured. ... The case has nothing to do with 'disagreeable ideas.' It involves disagreeable conduct that, in my opinion, diminishes the value of an important national asset, and that Johnson was punished only for the means by which he expressed his opinion, not the opinion itself.

Banning desecration of our flag does not diminish our ability and right to question and oppose any governmental polices.  Before the Johnson and Eichman cases, we were able to disagree with our government and express our opinions without burning the flag.   Before 1989 we had robust political dissent and free speech.  It seems that the only ones who needed to burn our flag to express their political opinions were Johnson and Eichman, two commies.

The First Amendment is not absolute.  You can be sued for defamation of public figures if you are reckless with the truth.

We should be able to protect the flag as the one symbol of our country as described by Justices Rehnquist and Stevens.  The First Amendment worked fine until 1989 to protect free speech without having to add burning our flag as another form of protected speech.