Burning The Flag Essay, Research Paper
The American flag is a piece of cloth that represents the United States of America.
The burning of our flag has caused many controversies. Some citizens believe that
burning the US flag should be banned no matter what the reason is. Others believe we
have the right to burn the flag if we want to. The burning of the flag should not be
banned for many reasons.
One reason is that banning the burning of the our flag would be a violation of our
freedom of speech. Gregory Lee Johnson set fire to the US flag and was arrested. He
was convicted under a Texas law that classified the flag as a “venerated object that
permits criminal prosecution of those who desecrate it.” He was sentenced a year in jail
and fined $2,000.
Johnson brought his case to the Texas Criminal Appeals Court. The court decided
that he had been wrongly convicted– not because he was innocent of setting the flag on
fire but because the law that he was convicted under was invalid. The court felt that the
First Amendment of the Bill of Rights protected Johnson because his act was a form of
speech and could not be illegal. The Texas state law, therefore, was unconstitutional.
The controversy over flag burning divides the nation as well. On one side of the
issue are those who feel that Johnson’s right to make a political statement is more
important than the protection of the flag. If such a right is taken away in the instance of
the flag burning, might there come a time when other forms of political speech are
On the other side of the issue are those who feel that the right of free speech
should have limits and that burning the American flag should be one of them.
Throughout the world the burning of a flag is regarded as one of the ugliest, most
offensive forms of antigovernment feeling.
The heat of public passion over this issue ignited the action of the Congress.
Following a second US Supreme Court decision supporting flag burning as a legitimate
form of freedom of expression, demands were heard for a Constitutional amendment.
However, in June of 1990, a vote in the House of Representatives fell short of the two-
thirds majority needed to set the amendment process in motion. For the time being, at
least, the amendment proposal is dormant.
There is also the issue about retiring the flag which requires the flag to be burned.
This is done when the flag is in a bad condition. The flag is completely unthreaded and
put in flames. People have also complained about this too, but would it be better for the
flag to look bad and even disgrace our country, than to let it be put away in honor?
The burning of the American flag should not be banned. In all, making a law that
prevents the burning of the American flag would be a big waste of time and our money.
No gain will be accomplished by preventing the burning of the flag. A ban on the
burning the flag would separate the citizens of the US even more than they are today.