Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Freedom to Burn the U.S. Flag

                 The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns the freedom to burn the flag of the United States.         
Liberals often set flags on fire in protest of something they do not like. During the riots that followed the election of Donald Trump, protesters set many U.S. flags on fire to show their dissatisfaction with the election results. I have a difficult time understanding why they choose to burn the flag; I also wonder if they truly have the right to do so.

                Flag burning is in the news again. A tweet from President-elect Trump contains the following statement: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail.”

                Most Americans probably feel the same way, but we are not the next President of the United States. Mr. Trump should know that the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on this subject.  The Court ruled that flag burning is an expression of free speech; therefore, it is legal even if it is disrespectful. Being legal and being respectful are two different things. Where should we draw the line between the freedom of speech and the proper respect for the flag of our nation?

                Justen Charters asked eight veterans for their opinions of how to handle flag burners. Most of the veterans said that they disagree with those who burn the flag but they would defend the right for people to do so. If we want to punish those who burn the flag, we should change the law first. However, we should never force people to be patriotic.

                U.S. Army Sergeant Drew Norman has a suggestion that could make flag burning a thing of the past without criminalizing it. He suggests that any person “caught burning the American flag … should lose any government assistance.” He continues: “I’m sure that if [they] lost the assistance that flag provides them they would think twice about shaming the nation that provides them the highest standard of living in the world.”

                I personally believe that it is abhorrent to burn the flag of one’s country. I believe it is disrespectful and revolting. I also believe that this behavior will continue if nothing is done to correct the situation.

I have confidence that the best way to stop disrespectful treatment of the American flag is to start with the rising generation. They are not being taught the greatness of America and why its flag is worthy of respect. One of the best ways to do this is to reinstate a civics class as one of the requirements to graduate from high school. A similar class could be a part of legal immigration and a requirement to become a citizen of the United States.

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