Flag burning doesn’t have to be hateful act

Tony Gorder

Tony Gorder

I’m going to burn the American flag.

You’re probably inflamed with anger right now; I don’t blame you. Flag burning evokes images of America haters8212;terrorists, hippies, communists and (God help us) Europeans.

I, however, fit into not one of those categories. I love America. I love it so much, I’m setting its flag on fire. How does this seemingly paradoxical statement make sense?

Since the 1960s, state legislatures and the U.S. Congress have been trying to stop the act of flag desecration. Protesters showed their discontent with America’s involvement in Vietnam by burning the American flag, and the first federal Flag Protection Act rose from the ashes.

The Supreme Court extinguished the act, ruling it an unconstitutional limit on freedom of expression in 1989. They ruled the same way one year later in regards to Congress’ new, reactionary Flag Protection Act. Congress, unable to avoid that irksome First Amendment, proposed the Flag Desecration Amendment in 1995, and since then, it has proposed the Amendment six times until 2006, where it failed to pass in the senate by a single vote.

It’s been four years without a vote on the Flag Desecration Amendment8212;the longest interval in 11 years.

There are two reasons why I am against a Flag Desecration Amendment of any kind.

People generally burn the flag to show disdain for America, and, though offensive, this type of speech is exactly what the First Amendment protects8212;the most unpopular forms of speech.

Popular speech doesn’t require protection. It’s the unpopular speech that the First Amendment was designed to protect. If the United States censored every action or utterance that someone found offensive, it would be a quiet day in the U.S.

Secondly, when I say I’m going to burn the flag, I’m not doing it with these hateful, incendiary intentions. I’m doing it to express my love for America with a paradoxical expression of freedom. We live in country so great and free, that it grants us the liberty to destroy, desecrate and demolish the symbol that represents us.

The absurdity of it is beautiful. I am going to burn the flag out of love for my country8212;a country that grants me liberty and freedom to such great extents that I can make a positive statement in such a remarkable way.