Desecrating our symbol of freedom

symbol of freedom

To Most Americans our Flag is the Symbol of Freedom

“symbol of freedom”, by Beverly Jane Russell, Op-ed contributor

Americans are getting extremely disgusted with the flag-stomping goons desecrating our symbol of freedom that so many have fought, and continue to fight and die for. I think there should be very tough consequences for anyone who belittles America or its symbols of freedom. If we do not come together to save and respect America, she will surely be lost. To see such behavior chills me to the bone. How can anyone be in America and disrespect her so much? It’s time for a change, a BIG change! It’s time Americans stand up tall and demand respect.

The first federal Flag Protection Act was passed by Congress in 1968 in response to protest burnings of the flag at demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Over time, 48 of the 50 U.S. states also enacted similar flag protection laws. All of these statutes were overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States by a 5–4 vote in the case Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) as unconstitutional restrictions of public expression.

Congress responded to the Johnson decision by passing a Flag Protection Act, only to see the Supreme Court reaffirm Johnson by the same 5–4 majority in United States v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990), declaring that flag burning was constitutionally-protected free speech.

Every state in America except two has laws dealing with the misuse, abuse, and desecration of flags: the American flag, the state flag, and sometimes the Confederate flag. The laws prohibit defiling, defacing, casting contempt upon, and sometimes even satirizing these flags. Most laws specify actions, but some criminalize words. A few include other venerated objects in their protections.

Wyoming is the only state that doesn’t say anything about defacing, desecrating, or disparaging the flag. Alaska only bans the restriction of trademarks which disparage national symbols. All other states proscribe at least some uses for national and state flags.

I believe it should be against the law to desecrate the American flag. I say to the young people that know very little history that they should learn about the men and women who for centuries gave their lives so that uneducated and foreign people can have the right to become Americans and enjoy all the freedoms they receive for nothing. They then desecrate the very flag that gives them that freedom. Every day there are veterans in the news missing arms, legs and lives for such ungrateful people. In the near future, sooner than they think, those freedoms could disappear. Some are disappearing as I write this.

Flag desecration is legal in Australia, and there have been several noted instances in the last decade. One socialist group called Resistance even markets a flag burning kit. Belgium and Canada also allow for flag burning and desecration.

In 1990, the flag of Quebec was desecrated by protesters in Brockville, Ontario. Numerous people walked over the flag and the event was even televised.

In many other nations, there are laws in place to protect the flag from desecration. In Denmark, for example, it is illegal to desecrate the flags and national symbols of all foreign nations. However, it is legal to burn the national flag of Denmark. This is a unique law, but protects the people of Denmark from threats that result when they burn the flags of other nations. French law made it illegal to burn or desecrate the national flag with a bill that was passed in 2010. Several people have already been fined for the crime, which is illegal even in a private setting.

Germany has even harsher laws when it comes to flag desecration. Damaging the flag of Germany or that of any German state is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Hong Kong has similar laws and cites that flag burning is illegal because there are many other ways of protesting.

Flag desecration, though considered an insult to the government, is not illegal in the United States. The flag is often burnt in the United States as a protest of government policy, both domestic and abroad. This was particularly common during the Vietnam War and the start of the War on Terror. Flag desecration is seen as an insult to the government and its policies. Whether or not the practice should be legal remains a source of great debate and hinges on whether or not flag burning is protected under the call for freedom of speech.

How do you feel about burning our symbol of freedom? Is it freedom of speech, or is it complete disrespect?

“symbol of freedom”, by Beverly Jane Russell, Op-ed contributor

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