27 Jun 2005 Flag Burning — The Real Question
The Washington Post says in a Monday editorial that flag-burning should not be banned because
Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech. The great power of this principle is that it admits no exception: not for the most odious racism or Holocaust denial, not for the most insulting criticisms of those in high office, not for cone-shaped white hoods or hammers and sickles, and not for burning or otherwise defiling the Stars and Stripes.
Point 1: Speech involves flapping gums, not flames.
Point 2: Despite the Post editorial’s claim, exceptions already are made to the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech. Examples include defamation, causing panic/harm to others, incitement to crime, obscenity and sedition (advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government).
A more insightful Post editorial would have tackled the question: Does burning an American flag, by an American, in America, constitute sedition?
If it does, should we ban the practice, or consider it consistent with our revolutionary heritage?