Tag Archives: Symbolic Speech

Burning of the American Flag

Should burning the American flag be illegal? The right to be able to burn the American Flag should be illegal. Burning the flag is a form of expression, not speech. How is burning the American flag legal when burning money isn’t? From the ThoughtCo. Article, “..makes tearing up or burning money a crime is Title 18, Section 333, which was passed in 1948..” If burning the flag is a legal form of symbolic speech, then why is money treated differently? There are two main opinions on the topic and no matter the law, there will always be people that disagree. According to ACLU article, “Democracy is strong because we tolerate all peaceful forms of expression, no matter how uncomfortable they make us feel or how much they disagree.” It is a natural response for citizens to disagree with others actions. Are we to outlaw all political expressions that bother residents? Some opinions indicate that burning the American flag is a form of expression rather than speech. More from the ABC news article, “President Donald Trump wrote on Tuesday that anyone caught burning the American Flag should face consequences — including having their citizenship yanked or facing a year in jail, according to his tweet.” This issue has come up a few times in the supreme court, but has never been passed.

 

Works Cited:

Head, Tom. “Anti-Flag Burning Laws in the U.S.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, 2018, http://www.thoughtco.com/united-states-flag-burning-laws-history-721207.

King, James. “How the Law Protects Flag Burning in the United States.” ABC News, ABC News Network, 30 Nov. 2016, abcnews.go.com/Politics/law-protects-flag-burning-united-states/story?id=43855624.

Murse, Tom, and Nieman Foundation. “Here’s Why Mutilating Your Money Can Land You in Prison.” ThoughtCo, ThoughtCo, http://www.thoughtco.com/is-burning-money-illegal-3367953.

 

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Dis is my Blog

Should donating to a certain politician be covered by symbolic speech? Symbolic Speech is seen as a representation of one’s beliefs or messages in the form of nonverbal communication.  In this instance, donating money politicians is considered speech because the  money you donate displays support to a politicians. Meaning the more money you donate, the more you support the candidate.  I think donations to a certain political candidate shouldn’t be covered by the First Amendment. In an article written by Deena Zaru she talks to Emily Tisch Sussman, a Campaigns Director for Center for American Progress Action Fund. The article is about the Supreme Court ruling that private citizens can contribute as they would like. Sussman says, “ the ruling is problematic because candidates will be less concerned with serving the public and more focused on courting a few wealthy citizens who could fund their campaigns”. I agree with Sussman, because if you were take the money out of politics, people would vote for the person who they like the best. Instead of it being about how much money each candidate can raise it should be about politics. In the article How Citizens United Has Changed Politics in 5 Year it says, “ a recent analysis of the 2014 Senate races by the Brennan Center for Justice found outside spending more than doubled since 2010, to $486 Million. Outside groups provided 47 percent of total spending more than the candidates’ 41”.  The fact that outside spending groups are providing more money then the actual candidates should be reason enough alone to have this type of symbolic speech be not covered by the First Amendment.

 

Deena Zaru. “Are political donations a form of free speech? – CNNPolitics.” CNN. 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2018. <https://www.cnn.com/2015/02/19/politics/sotu-fec-mccutcheon-scotus-political-donations-free-speech/index.html>

N.a. “Symbolic Speech – constitution | Laws.com.” Constitution.laws.com. n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2018. <https://constitution.laws.com/the-supreme-court/symbolic-speech>

 

Burning the Flag? Is That Legal?

Is burning the flag illegal? Believe it or not, the 1st Amendment protects the right to do so. This is considered symbolic speech, which is similar to a protest or political expression, and is protected by the 1st Amendment under freedom of speech/expression. Protesting the government because you disagree with decisions or policies isn’t illegal.

One of the most infamous instances occurred when a man named Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag outside a convention center. The 1984 Republican National Convention was being held there and he wanted to protest Ronald Reagan’s policies. He was arrested because of this act and put on trial. Texas courts convicted Johnson but he appealed, claiming his actions as “symbolic speech” and were protected by the 1st Amendment. His case was taken to the Supreme Court, they ruled in favor of Johnson. He exercised freedom of speech and the public being outraged at his actions wasn’t a reason to convict Johnson. People argued that he was disrespecting those who have fought for this country and were offended by his actions. Similarly people claimed the same things when more recently, NFL players started kneeling for the National Anthem protesting the racial injustice and police brutality prevalent in the United States. President Trump even made statements on the protest claimed that kneeling during the National Anthem should be illegal. The protest became about a lack of patriotism and respect for military. Although this caused a wave of anger among many, players were exercising their rights to freedom of speech.

America was built on rebellion to become a free country. Freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. Protesting is how we got here. Political expression is what makes this country great, not everyone agrees with the government and we can tell them that. Everyone has a voice and the right to express themselves under the 1st Amendment.

Works Cited:
Branch, John. “National Anthem Protests Sidelined by Ambiguity.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Jan. 2018, http://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/01/sports/nfl-national-anthem-protests.html.
“From the Colonists to Kaepernick–NYU’s ‘First Amendment Watch’ on the History of Symbolic Protest.” Newswise = Smart News Connection, http://www.newswise.com/articles/from-the-colonists-to-kaepernick–nyu%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cfirst-amendment-watch%E2%80%9D-on-the-history-of-symbolic-protest.
History.com Staff. “First Amendment.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2017, http://www.history.com/topics/first-amendment.

 

Burning the American Flag

Burning the American flag is symbolic speech. Symbolic speech is an expression of an idea that doesn’t use words. For example, Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted for desecrating a flag in violation of Texas law. The Court determined if his conviction was consistent with the First Amendment. The Court of Criminal Appeals viewed Mr. Johnson’s conduct as symbolic speech which is protected by the First Amendment. “Given the context of an organized demonstration, speeches, slogans, and the distribution of literature, anyone who observed the appellant’s act would have understood the message that appellant intended to convey. The act for which appellant was convicted was clearly speech contemplated by the First Amendment.” Id., at 95. If Mr. Johnson was disturbing the peace there would be charges. Since Mr. Johnson wasn’t disturbing the peace with his desecration of the flag there were no charges.

A con to burning the American flag is that the American flag is losing significance. A citizen could see flag burning as a threat to the United States. Barry states on web.b.ebscohost.com, “Our freedom is protected institutions, groups and individuals; the police, legal system, ambos, parliament, and trade unions. The treat to our society will more likely come from within unless we are tolerate, accept people’s differences, and treat all those who come to our country with respect and dignity.” Burning the American flag is disrespectful towards our country.

Work Cited

Brennan, William J., and William H. Rehnquist. “Court’s Opposing Views Create Storm of Debate.” Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL), 02 Jul, 1989, pp. 1E+, SIRS Issues Researcher, https://sks.sirs.com.

Illawarra Mercury (2018). Flag has Lost Significance. [online] p.pg 15. Available at: http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=b9560f2e-626f-4f72-be1b-eaf4efe97c86%40sessionmgr101&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=SYD-63GPV4XJJUO173JML1EO&db=n5h [Accessed 14 Feb. 2018].

Police arrest protesters at flag-burning outside convention. (2016). [Blog] Sofrep. Available at: https://sofrep.com/59653/police-arrest-protesters-flag-burning-outside-convention/ [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018]. 

The Ethics of Freedom of Speech and Political Campaigns

In a republic,  it is important for one to voice their opinion, because we are the ones who elect officials to represent us. If you watch TV or listen to the radio during election season, the channels are flooded with political advertisements. On average in one day on one channel you will see 62 advertisements regarding the political election. “In some of these (swing) states, there’s literally going to be no available advertising space left on television,” said Kip Cassino, Executive Vice President at a market research company Borrell Associates. In the last election, each candidate spent over two billion dollars on the election, with about half of that being spent on commercials. Symbolic speech is one expressing their idea or emotion without words. In this case it is donating money towards campaigns versus using words.  Does money equal speech?  Should the government limit the amount of money an individual or corporation can donate to a political candidate?

As we dive deeper into the subject of political elections and commercials, it is important to understand both sides of the argument. An individual or corporation can donate to a political campaign or PAC to assist with the heavy costs. With the high costs of an election, it is important for individuals or corporations to voice their opinion. By donating money you are simply just supporting your preferred candidate. In the past presidential election, Hillary Clinton had $799.5 million donated to her campaign VS Donald Trump had $639.1 million. In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the court struck down the idea of limiting the money spent on political advertisements. They believe an individual can spend their money on advertisements if they so choose. On the other side during the during the 1981 case of Buckley VS Valeo case, one believed that they should limit the amount of money spent on a political campaign. As you can see in the statistics about the amount of money spent on campaigns, it does not determine the winner of the election. The republican candidate, Donald Trump, won with less money donated to his campaign. People are voicing their opinion with money that has no impact on the results. Money does not equal speech.

All in all, money is just simple donations to support your preferred candidate. The last presidential election proves the amount of money spent on a campaign does not voice who is going to win the election. Is money speech? The answer can be undecided, but next time you think about donating money towards a political campaign think about the impact it will have on the election and what your money is going towards. Do commercials really have an impact on your opinion?

Burning a Flag or Utilizing a Right?

 

Should burning the American Flag be considered symbolic speech, which therefore is protected by the First Amendment?

Burning the flag of the United States is a very controversial topic, but not enough light is shed on this important debate. An important question arises every so often questioning flag desecration and why it’s still legal, and time and time again it is answered with an unfortunate fact: It’s protected by the First Amendment (symbolic speech to be more specific). As of today, burning the flag is completely legal in accordance with free speech, and it’s important that others are free to express their right to speak out against the government. They say that it’s their way of protesting the government and that it’s just a piece of cloth, but this is where others misinterpret their actions. Most veterans support the passing of a constitutional amendment that allows Congress to ban the action of flag burning or desecration. They believe it is disrespecting them and what they fought and died for. However, some would make the case that it’s a slippery slope.

The idea of creating amendment to do something about this inappropriate action is nothing new. Before the Texas v. Johnson case of 1989 which made flag burning legal under the First Amendment, forty-eight out of the fifty states had installed flag protection laws similar to the Flag Protection Act passed by Congress in 1968. A 5-4 decision in the Texas v. Johnson case declared the Flag Protection Act an unconstitutional restriction of public expression. Again in 1990, the discussion was brought up in the cases of United States v. Eichman and United States v. Haggerty (argued together), and again it struck down the Flag Protection Act in a 5-4 decision, similar to the Texas v. Johnson case.

Each case in relation to flag burning proves that there is support for creating an amendment to ban the burning of the American flag. President Trump has stated in a tweet that there should be punishments for burning the flag. Though I agree that there should be some form of penalty, his terms are far too extreme. A moderate fine would be an acceptable form of punishment, but first comes the task of making the action illegal. As long as flag desecration is considered symbolic speech, it is protected under the First Amendment. However, if the action is done in the face of others such as former military members, it could be considered incitement and therefore the offender will face a penalty. In the end, this conflict is an internal struggle within the public. Even though some may not like it, it’s important to respect the rights of others. Nevertheless, the barrier between breaking the law and exercising your constitutional right is exceedingly fragile, ergo it’s important to distinguish between the two.

 

Works Cited:

Mauro, Tony. &quot;Burning the Flag: A Right Or a Wrong?&quot;<i> USA TODAY</i>, 26 May 1998, pp. 1A-2A.<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.

 

Hey, Robert P. &quot;Push Persists to Protect Stars and Stripes.&quot;<i> Christian Science Monitor</i>, 19 Jul 2001,<i> SIRS Issues Researcher</i>, <a href=”http://sks.sirs.com&#8221; target=”_blank”>http://sks.sirs.com</a&gt;.

 

“Facts And Case Summary – Texas V. Johnson”. United States Courts. N. p., 2017. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.

Tags: Symbolic Speech, First Amendment, Supreme Court, Flag Desecration, Incitement, President Trump