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Flag Dessicration Essay, Research Paper

Desecrating the Flag

Throughout history, Americans have fought hard to gain independence and the freedoms that come with it. However, some choose to test the limitations of those freedoms. For some time, Americans have shown their disgust of the American government by burning flags, and even cutting them up to use as clothing. Although mocking the American government and the flag is disrespectful, revoking the right to do so would be a violation of freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Those who support the no-flag burning amendment argue that the United States flag is a special case. Because it would undermine the constitution and set a dangerous precedent that will make it easier for others enact restrictive amendments to the Bill of Rights, a flag desecrating amendment should not be passed.

The words of the First Amendment state, “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.” (Brief 1) Flag burning, a form of symbolic speech, is therefore protected by the constitution. An amendment revoking this right would

be unconstitutional. The Bill of Rights was written to

ensure liberties, not to ease the process of taking liberties away. “Our constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by each successive wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind“ said Justice Hugo Black(Brady 2). Our constitution must not be tampered with just because flag desecration hurts others feelings.

Many feel that the American flag amendment is a special case. Supreme Court Chief William Rehnquist claimed it was

acceptable to have a “narrow, special amendment to protect a special flag from desecration.” (“Consequences” 2). Even Thomas Jefferson and James Madison denounced flag burning as a crime (Brady H 2). Others feel that flag desecration disrespects those who lost their lives for our country, stating the flag symbolizes the blood that runs through our country. George Whalen, a soldier, said “the stars and stripes of our nations flag is the symbol of our nation’s values… It represents loyalty patriotism and love of our country.“ (“citizens” 3). Those against flag desecration must remember that the men and women who fought and died for our country were fighting for justice, freedom, and independence, all of which give one the right to desecrate the flag. Yes, the flag represents these freedoms, but the

constitution ensures them. An amendment revoking this right

would lead to limited individual freedoms and a lack personal responsibility.

In addition to violating one’s rights of freedom of expression, the no-flag burning amendment gives government the power to decide what American actions are and are not acceptable; consequently, giving the government a dangerous power. If the government were given this power, where would it draw the line? Would political cartoons be banned; they too represent unpopular beliefs? “It could be the start of a domino effect one hundred times more dangerous than any other restriction ever imposed upon the Civil Liberties of American citizens” (Barto 2).

When dealing with the subject of flag desecration, Americans must remember that the first amendment was not

designed to protect popular speech–if it were, it would serve no purpose whatsoever. Government cannot be given the power to determine limitations of free speech. Although destroying the symbol of freedom, something millions of people died for, is disrespectful, Americans must be allowed to do so. In order to preserve the rights of freedom of expression, which are intensely defined in the constitution, one must be allowed to desecrate the flag, ensuring the stability of the U.S. Constitution for future generations.


Barto, Brett M. “I pledge Allegiance to the Flag, Dirty and Wrong.” 13 Nov. 2000 .

Brady, H Patrick. “Time for law to Save old Glory.” 13 Nov. 2000 .

Brady, Patrick. “Old Glory Represents Americas Values.”

13 Nov. 2000 .

“brief History of Flag Burning.” 13 Nov. 2000 .

“Consequences of the Flag burning Amendment.” 21 Nov. 2000


Citizens Flag Alliance . Nov 13. 2000 .

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