Flag Burning Unconstitutional Essay, Research Paper
Flag burning is absolutely not a valid form of political expression under the first amendment. Though the Supreme Court, in the case of Gregory Johnson, ruled that it was in fact constitutional to allow people to burn the flag, the evidence against this ruling is overwhelming. First, the first amendment does provide protection to demonstrators wishing to voice their political opinions vocally and symbolically, the amendment does not allow for the desecration of sacred objects such as flags, cemeteries, and public monuments. The Texas law in effect when Gregory Johnson burned an American flag in protest of the American political system clearly states that it is illegal to desecrate such objects. The law defined desecration as physical mistreatment of such objects in a way which the accused knows will offend one or more persons likely to observe or discover the act. When Gregory Johnson burned his flag he clearly intended to make a public display and offend onlookers. The second argument against flag burning is that there are many other ways for one to express dislike for the American democratic system than to burn on of its most sacred objects. The flag stands for much more than the fifty states, in the it represents battles fought for the United States by hundreds of thousands of veterans. The flag represents national unity. The third, and most important, argument is that flag burning is an act that could possibly cause a large amount of violence if done in a public place. The first amendment does not protest this type of speech. (Texas vs. Johnson worksheet)
The Texas law created to protect sacred objects clearly states that it is illegal to desecrate anything that could case public dismay. In Gregory Johnson s trial several witnesses testified that they were deeply offended by Johnson s act. This argument alone makes flag burning illegal. Gregory Johnson should have been punished just for this under Texas law.
Flag burning is an extremely offensive method of expressing one s anger towards the American government or America itself. Not only did Gregory Johnson break a Texas State law, but he also broke an ethical law. There are many other methods of expressing contempt such as vocal protests, boycotts, and marches. Apparently, Gregory Johnson decided he needed to take his protest a step further and desecrate the most sacred symbol of the United States.
Burning a flag in public is also an extremely volatile situation. Many onlookers could become so angered by the burning of the American flag that they will turn to physical means of stopping the burners of the flags. There should be a law enacted to stop flag burning for this reason alone.
Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court the evidence in question definitely indicates that flag burning is unconstitutional and that Gregory Johnson broke the Texas law prohibiting the desecration of sacred public monuments. The flag represents a monument and the unity of the United States. Flag burning is not a vaild form of expression and should be outlawed.