Flag Desecration Should Be Outlawed
On August 22, 1984, Texas resident Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested for burning an American flag during a protest of the Republican National Convention. Johnson had violated a Texas flag desecration law officially known as the Texas Venerated Objects law, which outlawed "intentionally or knowingly desecrating a national flag" (Goldstein 197).
Johnson took his case to the United States Supreme Court. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled, by a five to four vote, that the Texas law was unconstitutional (Goldstein 202). Since that 1989 ruling, several attempts have been made to amend the United States Constitution to make flag desecration illegal. However, as of yet, no such amendment has passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The amendment itself has been written and proposed because of one simple question: Should flag desecration, specifically flag burning, be outlawed?
The proposed amendment is as follows: "The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States" (S.J. RES. 14 128). Its last action was seen on March 29, 2000 when it failed in the Senate by a vote of 63-37 (Yahoo! Politics Bill Search).
The amendment's proponent's main argument is that the flag is a well-beloved symbol of freedom and liberty, cherished by many, that should not have to suffer desecration of any form. Stephan Ross, a Holocaust survivor who testified before the House of Representative's Subcommittee on the Constitution of the Committee on the Judiciary, said that the government should not...
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...bsp; Right now, eighty percent of Americans might support a constitutional amendment banning flag desecration, but fifty years from now our descendants might look back and wonder, "What were they thinking?"
In conclusion, I think that flag burning is reprehensible. My great-grandfather was a war veteran, and my great-uncle Theodore is buried in Holland, where he died defending this country during World War II. However, I believe that my relatives fought so that my rights as an American would be protected -- and that includes my right to burn the flag in protest if I so choose to do so. An amendment that would allow Congress to prohibit flag desecration is wrong. Flag desecration, though a highly offensive act, is a constitutional right that should be granted to all Americans to exercise as they see fit.
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