Flag burning is as American as apple pie—well, at least as free speech. NPR reports that an Illinois man was arrested after posting a photo of him burning an American flag. The man was later released and prosecutor decided not to press charges citing first amendment issues. No matter what your opinion on flag burning, it must be defended.
The First Amendment restricts the government from infringing on free speech. Furthermore, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of flag burning in Texas v. Johnson. Thus, all calls for banning of flag burning are unconstitutional. The argument should end there, but, many people become emotional when they see Ol’ Glory burning.
Arguments for banning flag burning are convincing, but emotional. Soldiers have come back in caskets—draped in the American flag. People have died defending that flag. People have been killed for simply being American.
When some see the American flag, they see oppression, racism, and imperialism. The quote in the Facebook picture of the flag burner said: “I would like to one day feel a sense of pride toward my nationality again. But too little progress has been made…I do not have pride in my country. I am overwhelmingly ashamed, and I will demonstrate my feelings accordingly. #ArrestMe.” America has never been perfect. Yet, the reason so many immigrants come to America is not for its perfection, but its freedom, its opportunity, its hope for a better life.
Let the flag-burners burn their flags; it’s their right. Free speech must be protected, even unpopular speech. Flag burning is childish and asinine, but what must not be allowed to go up in flames is the Constitution.