Burning the American Flag: Peaceful Protest or Hateful Disobedience?


A man exercising his First Amendment rights by burning the flag. Courtesy of thefreepatriot.com

Brendan Jordan, Sports Editor

By Brendan Jordan

Burning the American flag is a very touchy topic that most people stay away from.

However, in recent news, talks of the topic have been in recent discussions, as President-elect Donald Trump posted on Twitter that he believes, “No one should burn the American flag! If they do, there must be consequences. Perhaps a loss of citizenship or a year in jail!”

But looking at Trump’s malicious tweet, the thought came to my head: What are people trying to achieve when burning the flag? Is it a hateful disobedience, or a peaceful protest? Personally, I believe that it should be considered as the latter.

Burning the flag in general is a pretty bold move. In order for someone to do such a thing, they had to have been heavily provoked. This provoking could result in our flag turning to ashes. But realistically, burning the flag is an extremely effective form of protest.

When someone burns the flag, it gets a ton of attention. Whether it be from average citizens or people of high importance such as the President — someone will notice and someone will try to resolve the issue that the arsonist is having. This goes to show that burning the flag will definitely get your message across. With that being said, there has to be a good reason to burn the flag. You should have fact to support your claim and have something showing why your problem needs to be addressed. Otherwise, you’re just wasting the fluid in your lighter.

The cause of this action is important, but the effect is even more impactful. Like previously stated, burning the flag could cause a huge uproar. But the uproar could cause someone with a lot of power to resolve the problem that originated this protest. The more people that are aware of the protest, the more people will support this protest, eventually causing it to be noticed by people of power. Burning the flag can show that someone really cares about what they’re arguing and really shows how much they want it to be resolved.

Now a lot of people would argue that burning the flag is disrespectful and should be made illegal. However, some of those people need to have a repeat of eighth grade history class, as in 1984, the Supreme court ruled in the Texas v. Johnson case that burning the American flag would be classified as “symbolic speech.” The First Amendment grants U.S. citizens the right to free speech, and the right to protest the government. Under the First Amendment, burning the flag has been supported by free speech since the previously stated Texas v. Johnson case was resolved in 1984.

Burning the American flag may be offensive to some, but in no way should it be considered something to make illegal. People have the right to fight for what they feel necessary to fight for. If their problem has a big enough impact on society, then doing anything to get the word out should be considered 100% necessary

Expression is what solves problems. If someone is able to stand up for what they believe in and do such drastic things such as burning the flag to gain attention, then that person deserves to be heard out. If burning the flag draws attention to a big problem, then by all means, strike up the matches.