I Am a Patriot — That’s Why I Want to Keep Flag-Burning Legal

Among the freedoms that the flag stands for is our freedom of speech.

Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted his support for a bill proposed by Republican Senator Steve Daines that would outlaw flag burning — overturning a Supreme Court precedent that protects it as free speech.

Here’s the tweet:

Many of President Trump’s supporters, including prominent ones such as Candace Owens, weighed in to agree that flag burning should indeed be punished:

Now, Daines has claimed that flag-burning must be banned since the “flag is a timeless symbol of liberty . . . the story of our enduring pursuit of freedom.” Honestly, though, it seems clear to me that “our enduring pursuit of freedom” is exactly why it should never be banned.

Let me be clear: It’s not that I’m not a patriot because I want to keep flag-burning legal, it’s that I want to keep flag-burning legal because I am a patriot.

Is burning an American flag a disgusting, reprehensible act? Yes, it absolutely is, and I would tell that to the face of absolutely anyone who has done so. The flag is a symbol of our freedom, and burning it absolutely is one of the least patriotic things that a person could possibly do. I say “one of the least” because I can think of a few things that would actually be less so — and, as a matter of fact, I think that banning flag-burning would absolutely be on that list.

Now, I understand that some of you may think that that sounds insane — but, before you tweet at me and tell me that I should be deported, just take a moment and hear me out. Although it may seem counterintuitive, one of the things that our flag stands for is our right to burn it if we choose to do so. Why? Because among the freedoms that the flag stands for is our freedom of speech.

These days, it seems to me that when most people think about “free speech,” they think about it as a protection from our increasingly politically correct culture. This is, of course, true — and it is important. It’s not, however, the most important reason for this freedom. No . . . the most important role that the First Amendment plays in this country is that it gives us the freedom to speak out against our government, thereby providing a check on its power.

Now, I normally hate the “slippery slope” argument, but in this instance, I have to admit that the slope is exactly what makes me so terrified. Think about it: If we outlaw flag burning because it is “unpatriotic,” what could “because unpatriotic” be used as an excuse to outlaw next? Protesting government decisions? Speaking out against the president? If we start using “lack of patriotism” as a barometer for what speech should and should not be allowed, we could see the tragic loss of the very freedoms that our flag is meant to extoll.

Don’t like flag-burning? Fine. Hate flag-burning? Me too! The thing is, though, hating something doesn’t always mean that the answer is to call on government powers to ban it — and, in fact, I’d say that that is rarely the best solution, especially when it comes to speech. To me, a better solution than sliding even an inch down the slope of fascism would be to encourage people to use their own rights to free speech to protest the things that they don’t like . . . flag-burning included.

So, go ahead: Tell flag-burners how you really feel. Call them disgusting; call them unpatriotic; hell, call them ***holes. But do not try to use government power to stop them from exercising their First Amendment rights — because doing so is insult to the very symbol that you’re claiming to cherish.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Joker: An Honest Treatment of Madness

When I saw that the New York Times and The New Yorker had run columns berating the new Joker movie, criticizing it not simply on cinematic grounds but instead insisting that the film amounted to a clandestine defense of “whiteness” in an attempt to buttress the electoral aim of “Republicans” — this is a ... Read More

The Democrats’ Disastrous CNN LGBT Town Hall

A few days after Donald Trump committed the worst foreign-policy blunder of his presidency by betraying America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, former vice president Joe Biden, the elder statesman and co-frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, was on a national stage talking to CNN’s primetime ... Read More
White House

What Is Impeachment For?

W hat is impeachment for? Seems like a simple question. Constitutionally speaking, it also appears to have a simple answer: to cite and remove from power a president guilty of wrongdoing. Aye, there’s the rub. What sort of wrongdoing warrants removal from power? I’d wager that the flames of ... Read More

Beto Proposes to Oppress Church with State

Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign is within the margin of error of non-existence, but in his failure he has found a purpose: expressing the Democratic id. His latest bid for left-wing love came at a CNN forum on gay rights, where he said that churches that oppose same-sex marriage should have to pay ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith Resigns

Fox News Channel's chief anchor, Shepard Smith, announced on air Friday that he would be resigning from his post after 23 years with the network. “This is my last newscast here,” said Smith. “Recently, I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News. After requesting that I stay, they obliged.” He ... Read More
Film & TV

The Breaking Bad Movie

I considered staying up until midnight last night to watch Netflix's two-hour Breaking Bad movie El Camino as soon as it went up, but I'm glad I didn't. It's fine, it's worth watching if you're a fan of the series (otherwise it'll mean nothing to you). But it doesn't answer any particularly compelling questions. ... Read More