As Voltaire famously wrote, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Not in Trump’s America.
Only weeks after he’s been elected to the United States Presidency, Donald J. Trump has made his intentions on free speech quite clear. In what can be considered one of his most ominous jabbers yet, Trump just called for jailing people who burn the American flag.
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
In the early morning Tuesday hours, the president-elect just made a knee-jerk Twitter rant that circumvents the entire first amendment to the constitution as well as a landmark supreme court ruling.
With this tyrannical push by the neoliberal establishment media to censor fake news, Trump’s willingness to dismiss free speech and resort to calls for kidnapping and caging people who disagree with him — is nothing short of bone-chilling.
Clearly ignoring the ostensible freedom the flag supposedly represents, Trump would rather see people punished for their speech — because it offends him.
In the famous Supreme Court case of Texas v. Johnson in 1989, a five-justice majority ruled that desecrating the American flag was protected speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
The majority of the Court, according to Justice William Brennan, agreed with Johnson and held that flag burning constitutes a form of “symbolic speech” that is protected by the First Amendment. The majority noted that freedom of speech protects actions that society may find very offensive, but society’s outrage alone is not justification for suppressing free speech.
In particular, the majority noted that the Texas law discriminated upon viewpoint, i.e., although the law punished actions, such as flag burning, that might arouse anger in others, it specifically exempted from prosecution actions that were respectful of venerated objects, e.g., burning and burying a worn-out flag. The majority said that the government could not discriminate in this manner based solely upon viewpoint.
Despite this ruling, Americans from sea to shining sea continue to call for the arrest, or even death, of those who’d dare express their opinion through the use of Old Glory.
And now, the supposed future Leader of the Free World is calling for it!
Trump’s adversary during the election is also a fan of criminalizing the act of burning flags. In 2005, Hillary Clinton proposed the Flag Protection Act of 2005 which would have prohibited burning or otherwise destroying and damaging the US flag. It called for a punishment of one year in jail and a fine of $100,000.
Trump wants to take it a little further and strip your citizenship for it.
The very essence of freedom is tolerating peaceful forms of expression, no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel. Sadly missing the point, however, are folks like the future President who fail to understand that burning or desecrating a flag without fear of punishment from one’s government, is what liberty is all about.
When a society becomes more concerned with a piece of cloth than the freedom it is meant to represent, it’s time to wake up.
As an honorably discharged sergeant in the USMC, I am unoffended when I see flag set ablaze or stepped on — because I see it as an act of expression by a group who feels oppressed.
Those who feel oppressed must never be silenced.
Of course, by simply writing this article, I will be referred to as a liberal, a hippie, a commie, and a Clinton, Sanders, or Stein supporter. However, all these labels would be wrong. I am nothing more than pro-freedom.
I swore an oath to defend the constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Those who call for jailing citizens for their free speech are enemies to the constitution and to that freedom.
On January 20, 2017, Trump will take that same oath. If he continues to attack the constitution the way he is doing now, the oath will lose what little meaning it had left after Obama bled it dry.
If Trump has any respect for the men and women who serve in the armed forces and who have sworn an oath to uphold the constitution, he should immediately issue an apology and a reversal on this tyrannical stance.
Please share this article with the good people who support Trump so that they may see the dangerous path he wishes to take America down.