Many Americans believe that the single greatest part of living in the United States is that people are generally free to do as they please, at least compared to the other nations. The founders, common law and universal ethics would dictate that in the absence of damage to another person or their property, any person should be free to do as they please without being punished by their government. Politically, both Republicans and Democrats grandstand regarding their support for the natural rights to freedom of the press, speech, and expression. Legislatively, however, both Republican and Democratic politicians have supported many alarming infringements on such freedoms. President Trump has empowered prestigious conservatives to openly support the use of governmental punishments against anyone who desecrates a certain type of item – even if they rightfully own it.
A symbol of freedom or tyranny?
The American flag surely represents freedom and the great American way to many individuals. Many Americans may understandably associate the American flag with the government, though. Of course, each individual human has unique subconscious associations with various items, sounds, smells, etc. Personally, I associate (at least partially) the American flag with the American government. My primary feeling towards the current US politicians is that they are immoral, corrupt, evil, socialist bastards who would sell their own mothers for a little political capital. Why must I respect the symbol of US politicians like Obama, Clinton, Trump, and Bush? Regardless of what people associate the flag with, burning one’s own property could not be considered a crime in a society that respects property rights or freedom of expression.
America was founded on the principles of freedom, resistance to tyranny, and independence. Standing up to the tyrannical (less tyrannical than the current US government) British government at the ‘Pine Tree Riot’, the ‘Boston Tea Party’, and the many other acts of defiance to the crown were the catalysts that birthed this nation. If any single act could embody those principles, wouldn’t it be the ultimate act of patriotism? Well, burning the symbol of the current tyrannical government is a rather strong yet non-violent symbol of defiance to an authoritarian socialist government. Conservatives who are true patriots ought to support the burning of the American flag, just as the rebellious colonists burned the king in effigy. Is the flag not the modern day version of an idol representing the king?
Support for the amendment
On June 15th, President Trump tweeted his support for a constitutional amendment proposed by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) which would ban the desecration of a US flag. Trump referred to such a ban as a ‘no-brainer’. (In 2016, Trump contemplated stripping citizenship and/or imprisoning flag burners.) One day later, rising conservative star, Candace Owens tweeted her support for criminalizing the act of burning the American flag. The proposed amendment to the US Constitution would read: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.’’
Prior court decisions
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled in Texas v. Johnson and confirmed in US v. Eichman that burning the American flag is protected under the first amendment. Antonin Scalia, the consistently pro-freedom, pro-constitution, conservative judge supported the ruling. Anti-freedom, leftist judge John Paul Stevens dissented and considered flag burning to be a criminal act. Wikipedia has a wealth of information on the matter, of course. Should the President and Congress use a constitutional amendment to create a law that the Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional multiple times? Of course, amending the Constitution would make this law constitutional. A law can be constitutional while being immoral and authoritarian, though.
A threat to freedom
Politically aware Americans – especially those who support freedom – understand how dangerous and permanent governmental powers are. Each year, the federal (and State and local) government grants itself massive amounts of new powers and expands many of its existing powers. From increased taxation to increased spending and from increased regulation to increased penalties, the number of laws on the books in America never seems to stop growing. Despite the federal government stealing around 4 trillion dollars per year, spending around 5 trillion dollars per year, and accruing a debt of 22 trillion dollars and counting, conservatives ironically support granting the federal government a massive expansion of power. There is a famous saying regarding situations such as this one that may tempt conservatives to not give the government more power: “Don’t grant the government a power that you wouldn’t want your enemy to wield.” Conservatives should take a deep breath and consider what a leftist administration could do with the power to ban random acts that they don’t like, now that conservatives opened up that door for the federal government. A leftist Congress might ban the Gadsden Flag or any portrayal of the phrase ‘don’t tread on me’. A progressive president might ban pictures of heterosexual couples because such images could offend LGBT couples. The possibilities are endless. To deny that giving the government a new power may backfire and be used against you by the next administration is naive foolishness.
Regardless of how you feel about ‘America’ and unity, and regardless of your subconscious associations with the flag, patriots should exercise caution when deliberating whether to criminalize flag burning. Those who identify as patriots and supporters of freedom should expend their energy supporting freedom in other areas, instead of allowing their white-hot patriotism to cloud their judgment and steer them down an authoritarian path. If you need ideas for pro-freedom initiatives to spend your time, effort, and money on, check out LibertyBlock.com!
This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Liberty Block or any of its members. We welcome all forms of serious feedback and debate.