I realize this may not be the most popular opinion, but the burning of the American Flag is a perfectly acceptable — and important — form of free speech.

Before you go off and burn the paper in your hand or smash your device onto the concrete, hear me out.

Personally, I am deeply offended when I see someone burn the American flag. Inside of me, I discover a deeply visceral response — my pulse quickens and my heart races. You might as well spit on me. On the other side, the mere sight of the American flag flying above has brought me to tears of swelling pride more times than I can count.

But isn’t that the point of the flag burner? Isn’t the action of the intentional destruction of a deeply shared symbol designed to provoke a powerful reaction in others? Does the burning of the flag, as emotionally terrifying as it is to some, make the action a perfect tool to motivate and inspire discussion?

In the United States our broadly reaching freedom of speech is among the most powerful symbols of our inspired form of government. The concept that the government cannot take action against you for stating your opinions of their performance is one of the bedrock elements of what makes America the envy of the world. Go ahead, try publicly berating a government in the other 95 percent of the world and see how that works out for you.

I also believe our inspired concept of freedom of speech is the lynchpin that holds our republic together. Without the free and effective tool of self-expression for the citizens to publicly disagree with the government, you can make a strong argument that our other rights would be greatly discounted to meaningless window dressing. Public disagreement and discourse is a necessary element of a functioning and evolving society and government.

The Supreme Court, for the record, is right on protecting flag burning under the shelter of freedom of speech. The action of flag burning is generally taken in the spirit of political speech. To ban the action would be an indefensible direct restraint of one’s ability to raise the attention of another in order to bring discussion to life.

Furthermore, one of the widely accepted manners of retiring an American flag includes the burning of a worn or tattered flag during a highly symbolic ceremony. Again, the flag is being treated with reverence as an emblem of a government and peoples. To ban the burning of the flag for political purposes would run counter to the highly respected practice of retiring the flag in this revered manner. The court would find itself squarely in the crosshairs of unquestionably restricting political free speech.

The burning of the American flag as a political statement disturbs me deeply. But, regardless of the pain I feel, the action reinforces my belief that only the strongest of a nation’s people would allow such a powerful statement to stand as an example of freedom for the world to see.

President & Publisher of The Galveston County Daily News.

(23) comments

Carlos Ponce

By allowing flag burning it is easier to identify those who hate America. Not only this nation but also those who fought for that flag. By flag burning your notoriety is evident.

George Croix

Good article, imho....
While In MY Opinion burning the American Flag is a despicable act by despicable trash, an actual side benefit is it's good to know who the lowest common denominators among us are...
You...protesters.... can burn whatever flag you want with legal impunity.....

Except mine....and those of a lot of other people who care about all who died to keep that flag waving.....

Your right to 'protest' has limits.....


Doyle Beard

If one hates America and the people who defended the flag then maybe America is not the place for them. I believe when one burns the flag they are showing hate for this country and for the people who fought and many gave the ultimate sacrifice for these thugs. Wake up America. Just because one has THE RIGHT doing it is not always the RIGHT thing to do.
So many defend spewing hatred but yet are ok with this right. Its downright hatred.

Jim Forsythe

Instead of being upset about someone who burns the flag , we should be celebrating that we live where we can protest, without being jailed , executed or deported. This right is extended to anyone who disagrees with this action.

"Our forefathers did not fight and die to preserve the flag, but rather they fought and died to protect our right to burn it, just as our founding fathers did to the British flag. The burning of the flag is an act that asserts the right of the people over the government. The denial of the right to burn the flag is the assertion of the government to rule the people. America is ruled by the people, not the government"

"Various governments, landlords, and others place restrictions on FLYING the flag, (not burning it). Just as the government shouldn't be able to prohibit burning the flag because of freedom, it should also not be able to prohibit flying the flag for the same reason. Flying the flag is also free speech"

Doyle Beard

what an absolute crock.

Jim Forsythe

Doyle , what part do you disagree with.

Doyle Beard

first thing many fought to defend and honor the flag. take a poll to see who is right.

Jim Forsythe

To me, the honor the flag brings the thought of all the men and women that have served and some had their blood spilled to give us a county were we are able to have the freedoms we have.
Freedoms are hard to keep but easy to lose . One of freedoms we the  have, and a lot of countries do not, is the right to protest. Changes in our county sometimes happen because of protest. 
If someone dose not like a law they can work to get it changed. Contact your representatives  in DC

Carlos Ponce

Jim, you can protest without being jailed as long as your protest is PEACEFUL, Destroy property and harm others you deserve JAIL TIME. Only those who are here illegally will be DEPORTED, no one else. And that's not Trump's law. That's the CURRENT law on the books. Trump will deport CRIMINAL illegals or give them jail time. Have a problem with that, Jim?

Jim Forsythe

Carlos,
George said "Jim, many, and maybe most of us can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time" he may have been wrong.
I said "protest, without being jailed , executed or deported" not that anyone was going to be deported. This is about flag burning and the right to do so and also the right to not agree with this action.If someone burns a flag, they must be willing to except the outcome of their actions.

Carlos Ponce

Your post has multiple innuendo. You must elaborate more concisely in your writings.
" they must be willing to except the outcome of their actions'
"except"? That implies they do not want to be held responsible for their actions.
Did you mean to post "accept"?
Your writings are VERY confusing. Please be more concise in your writings. [unsure]

George Croix

Jim, old friend, PLEASE stick around here.
You and I are just about equal in spelling, sentence structure and composition, with me being on the worse side of that just about.....[beam][beam]
Bipartisanship at the keyboard level....nearly.......[innocent]

Merry Christmas!!

Jim Forsythe

Carlos
Its Great the you have such a education. that you can find  my mistakes  in spelling and grammar. I'm humbled that you would take the time to help me with my shortcomings..
I was not so blessed like you, with a education at the level you have .  If not for you, I would not know what I did wrong . Make sure that you help other people on the board, as someone may need help, and they are on pins and needles and praying  you will  help them with any lacking in spelling and grammar . I would not know how to help them as I am lacking in that skill set. Please do not keep it to yourself ,as that would be a waste.
I would be more  concise today , but I would be ostracized from this board.

Doyle Beard

heck they dont jailmsn for rioting during protest.

George Croix

Jim, many, and maybe most of us can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, and, imho, have no trouble with agreeing that a person has a 'right' to burn the flag but at the same time think they are despicable for doing so.

As for that country where we are free to 'protest without being jailed...', we have the knowledge that in March of this year our current administration's AG, Loretta Lynch, testified before Congress that the Justice Dept. has 'considered' prosecution for 'climate change deniers'......

It CAN'T happen In America.....[whistling]......

Robert Buckner

Jim you've made some good points but let me suggest that those who wish to to go forwar in their attempt to burn our flag to not attempt to do so at their local VFW post. This would also apply to those who may feel it is necessary to kneel during the national anthem.

Jim Forsythe

Robert, you are right .
If a group did burn a flag at a VFW post, what kind of response would they get? From the VFW, the response would be what?  Would they make national news for their cause ? A  protester   preforming a event like this is willing to suffer what happen to them. Some protesters want to be arrested, so the threat of this is what they want, to get the publicity they are looking for.

Carlos Ponce

The VFW will be glad to burn the flag for you with dignity.
In August, 2000, at the VFW 101st National Convention in Milwaukee, VFW delegates passed a resolution establishing a U.S. Flag disposal program for Posts to conduct, privately or publicly.
The VFW feels individuals are responsible for maintaining the U.S. Flag in their possession, however, as a public service some VFW Posts have special details assigned for gathering and disposing* of worn national emblems. Some Posts may go further – they make gifts of new flags to groups or provide information on how to order a U.S. Flag from the VFW Store 1-800-821-2606.
*SUGGESTED PROCEDURE FOR INDIVIDUALS TO USE IN PRIVATE OR PUBLIC FOR DISPOSING OF A TORN, SOILED, OR BADLY FADED U.S. FLAG.
The Flag should be folded in its customary manner. (See VFW Ritual.)- It is important that the fire be sizeable and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the Flag.
Place the Flag on the fire.
The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the Flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
After the Flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.
(Approved for distribution by the VFW National Citizenship Education and Community Service Committee, September 18, 2000.)
http://faq.vfw.org/faq/index.php?View=entry&EntryID=497

Robert Braeking

If you want to exercise your right to protest by burning the flag don't be surprised if someone steps in to put out the fire.

horace norris

Free speech? .....nothing is free..

Keith Gray


Asbestos Flags


July 23, 1989|By G.P. Lucchetti.


Well my idea was shot to heck...

OAK PARK — What a country! Just when it`s needed most for flag-making material, the EPA has banned all use of asbestos!

George Croix

Mr. Gray, one of these happy...for me....days, one of those flaming nylon flags will catch a sudden gust of wind and wrap itself around the arms or head of one of the slimy (imho) 'protesters, and we'll see a sudden and dramatic fall off like-minded revolutionary fervor.......
I base this on having more than once had a single drop of burning 550 cord land on my exposed instep.....
[beam][beam][beam][beam][beam]

Is that 'mean'?
Is that 'hate'?

I don't care............

Keith Gray

Johnny Cash used to sing "When the Man comes around"... he'll be around, and that fire won't be anything like a little 550 cord... IMHB

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