Tag Archives: United States

Should Flag Burning be Protected by the First Amendment?

Flag burning or otherwise known as flag desecration is a term applied to the desecration/defacing of flags. These are acts that purposely destroy or damage a flag in public. In the case of burning a national flag, usually, this action is intended to make a political statement against a country, national leaders, or policies. Burning or defacing a flag is a crime in some countries, but not in others. In countries where this is not illegal, the act may still be prosecuted for things like disorderly conduct, arson, or vandalism.

Many people often question, should flag burning be protected by the First Amendment? This question was challenged in 1984 when Gregory Lee Johnson protested outside of the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas. During these protests, Johnson participated in the burning of a United States flag. Bystanders were outraged and appalled. They claimed that this was an act of terrorism and it was unpatriotic.

Johnson was arrested and charged with violating a Texas law which prohibits vandalizing respected objects. Johnson was sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,000. Gregory Johnson then appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeals of Texas, but he lost this appeal. The declined appeal was later overturned when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said that the State could not punish Johnson for burning the flag because the First Amendment protects such activity as a form of symbolic speech. The Court then considered the question of whether the First Amendment protected non-speech acts. Since Johnson was convicted of flag desecration rather than verbal communication, and, if so, whether Johnson’s burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct/symbolic speech, which would allow him to use the First Amendment as a challenge point in his conviction.

A majority rule of 5-4 showed that the Court agreed with Johnson and stated that flag burning is a form of “symbolic speech” which is protected by the First Amendment. The majority stated, “freedom of speech protects actions that society might find offensive, but society’s outrage alone is not justification for suppressing free speech.”

I agree with the ruling of the Texas v. Johnson case. As long that the safety of others is not violated, I believe that as a part of the First Amendment all citizens deserve the advantage of free speech. Whether it is symbolic and nonverbal, or it is out loud and opinionated. Overall, burning/desecration of the flag should always be protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and symbolic speech rights.



Praying before sporting events is nothing new in our country, especially for football teams. Others and organizations, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are saying that these coaches are breaking the law. The First Amendment allows everyone to freely exercise their religion and also allows everyone the right to freely express themselves. So the controversy is where the line is drawn, and to the extent that these freedoms go.

The line between what should and shouldn’t be allowed in freedom of religion and speech can sometimes be a confusing one. Teams and more specifically coaches, typically like to pray before games. Often asking for strength, courage, and that players remain healthy throughout the game. But coaches and schools are coming under fire for it, saying that they are violating the First Amendment for imposing their religion on students. The Freedom From Religion Foundation has not only gone after Dunmore High School, but another high school in Birmingham, Alabama, for praying before football games. They say that, “Public school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.” In their letter however, they fail to ask if any students have had any complaints about it, considering they are the ones who would be effected. Unless a student has told their coach, teacher, or school that they are offended by this prayer and asked that it be stopped, it doesn’t seem like it’s doing any harm. Sen. Lankford says, “Gratitude to God is certainly not a crime in America.” The only problem that could come from praying before a game would be if a student feels peer pressured to join in and not speak out against it. Although they always have the choice to not participate in the prayer as well.

The line for freedom of religion and speech for praying before games is definitely on the border. I don’t believe that it should be banned however, unless a student asks for it to be. Although since they have the option to not participate, I believe that others should be allowed to pray and practice their religion for the brief time before a football game.


Wertheimer, Linda K. “Opinion | Why You Shouldn’t Defend a High School Coach Praying on His Football Field.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 29 Oct. 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/10/29/why-you-shouldnt-defend-a-high-school-coach-praying-on-his-football-field/?utm_term=.64aa0bb5a937.

“Alabama High School Told to Halt Prayers before Football Games.” Fox News, FOX News Network, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/10/26/alabama-high-school-told-to-halt-prayers-before-football-games.html.


Tired of Satire?

Should satire be allowed? The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Saturday Night Live are some of our favorite television shows. All of these television shows are common examples of satire. These shows have made way into our homes, and helped us learn about politics and other information while making fun of them and giving us laughter as we learn. The definition of satire, according to Google, is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

Satire is sometimes questioned on whether it should be allowed in places or television. Some people believe that it gives false information to people and can affect their life in a bad way. In 2008, Pew Research Center released a study that listed Jon Stewart as the fourth most trusted American journalist. There is a lot of criticism on this, because Jon Stewart is mostly known for his satire, making fun of other people or giving false information on politics. Jon Stewart responded by saying that he does not share false stories, his impressions are false. People who support satire say that it is informative, and it explains issues and politics in a comedic way, or makes fun of something. Also, people say that it is a right. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution gives people freedom of speech; it gives people a chance to state their beliefs to society. Some people feel like their beliefs are wrong when satire pokes at their values and calls them stupid for believing something.

Most of America agrees with me, in that satire should be allowed. It is apart of our freedom of speech. A lot of it can be informative, and it doesn’t mean you have to have the same beliefs. Satire is funny and informative, and helps make people’s lives better, while teaching us about politics.

Hg.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 19 Feb. 2018.

“Jon Stewart On The Value Of Political Satire.” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. N. p., 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2018.