The Right To Burn

Extinguishing a fiery American flag does not make you a hero

The Right To Burn

Carrington York, Opinion Editor

Playing with fire.

Burning the American flag is a not a crime and it is not rational to judge those who do.

On January 19, protesters armed with lighters and U.S. flags gathered in disapproval of Donald Trump’s entering office. Since then, thousands across the world have been following the trend in response to the unconstitutional decisions he’s made as Chief Executive.

Along with the protestors are the proud, yet infuriated U.S. citizens, who take it upon themselves to stop this method of protest by force. These patriots wear plain clothes and barge into protests ripping flags out of hands to honor America and have received tremendous support in doing so. The comment sections under videos of these protests have spoken for themselves, as citizens cheer for the flag-snatchers in the name of patriotism. We’ve all seen these videos on our feeds and it is clear as day to see that these commenters are wrong. Everyone wants to be a hero for this great nation yet, in doing so, they’re rebutting the very thing America stands for-freedom.

According the Constitution of the United States, flag desecration is a form of symbolic speech and it is every citizen’s first amendment right to exercise this freedom. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that that flag burning is a legitimate form of free speech. Many criticized the ruling, including the President at the time, George H. W. Bush, who proposed an amendment to exclude that part of the Constitution in 1989, but the ruling stands to this day.

We must first understand that being a hero is not synonymous with saving the dear old flag. Yes, you can be enraged and declare its desecration as the highest form of disrespect. Yes, you can be disgusted with these protesters. However, you should not prevent them from exercising their freedom of speech.

Stopping protesters who exercise their freedom is hypocritical. You are not a hero; you are someone who deems your personal beliefs to be more valid than someone else’s. You are contradicting the very thing that you are defending and should not be praised for it. Remember that the U.S. has already created a set of laws to govern these so-called “disrespectful protesters.” The Constitution protects these “disrespectful actions,” making America the free country that you love.