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Desecration of the Flag Should be Prohibited Argum

Desecration of the Flag Should be Prohibited  Argumentative Persuasive Essays

Desecration of the Flag Should be Prohibited


Is it necessary to allow all forms of protest to protect the right of citizens to express grievances against their government?  It is not a violation of free speech to outlaw burning of the flag because it is not speech.  It will not lead to the limiting of other avenues of protest, of which many are more expressive of specific problems. All attempts to protect the flag short of a Constitutional amendment have failed in the end.  A change to the constitution to prohibit the desecration of the U.S. flag is a necessary step to protect one of our most sacred national symbols.

Several methods to protect the flag have been tried over many years.  Between the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s many of the states passed laws protecting the flag.  There were numerous prosecutions for flag desecration during the Vietnam era and afterwards, until 1984 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled these laws unconstitutional.  The controversy peaked in 1989 and 1990 when a federal law to prohibit flag desecration was passed and subsequently struck down by the Supreme Court.

The first amendment guarantees its citizens the right of speaking freely, but is the act of burning a flag “speech”?  It is an inflammatory action that should not be protected by a clause meant to insure that citizens would not be suppressed in their efforts express unhappiness with the government or its actions.  Limiting a person’s right to free expression is not a radical new idea either; speaking or writing false statements that harm others (slander and libel) are illegal and have been for a long time.  To allow desecration of a national symbol based on the “free speech” clause is a flimsy misuse of the constitution.

The act of burning a flag does not address any specific grievance; it only expresses unhappiness with the United States in general.  Persons who are generally unhappy with this country should be able to find a better way to express their displeasure.  The ineffective nature of protesting in this manner is summarized well by Robert Goldstein:”a generally high counterproductive political tactic – one that mostly alienates people and makes them turn away before they have a chance of grasping any particular message that such conduct seeks to convey” (preface, Pg XI).  Flag burning is not a necessary or effective way to protest against any particular action.

The flag is not a symbol representing the government of the United States; burning it portrays displeasure, not with government policies, but with the country itself.  This is why so many people, particularly those who have fought for this country, find burning a flag a deplorable act. It is a direct offense to everything that they put their lives at risk to protect.  Burning a flag has been construed as “a direct attack on the sovereignty of the United States,” (Burning the Flag 14).  A hallowed symbol of our country deserves the same protection as anything else that directly represents the United States.

Is a prohibition of burning the flag a serious threat to our freedom?  Will it lead to the prohibiting of other modes of protest?  The proponents of an amendment have not expressed a desire to squelch other forms of speech or protest, in fact we hear just the opposite – that citizens should be free to protest whatever government actions they feel are wrong.  This is a single issue that is not tied to a larger agenda.  What is being asked of our government and the people is one thing only; just the protection of a symbol of the United States that is recognized worldwide.  Our freedom is not at risk, but confidence in the United States both at home and abroad could be.

Opponents of a flag burning amendment say that respect for the flag cannot be taught by others, but must be learned from personal experience.  People are taught to respect the law.  Most of us do not need to experience jail to have respect for the law. Also, the way that the law is written will affect the way that the public views the subject.  If the flag is protected by law, that makes a strong statement about how important it is.  Respect for the flag can and must be taught by a law that protects it from being desecrated.

Is a constitutional amendment the only avenue to stop desecration of the flag?  Since all efforts short of a constitutional amendment have failed, the only option left to protect this national treasure is to change the constitution.  Situations such as this are why a process for changing the constitution was included.  I do not believe the founding fathers have imagined that citizens of this country would want burn their own flag.

In conclusion, the right of free speech never meant persons could do anything they please, regardless of its effects, and when that effect is to undermine the integrity and heritage of our great country we must act.  The inflammatory act of burning our flag does not accomplish anything except the alienation and devaluation of the rest of us.  It is an attack by a citizen on their own country, an act of domestic terrorism.  Protecting the flag is not an abridgment of free speech, but rather an action to honor our most recognized national symbol.  We must act to restore out flag to the position of respect that it deserves as an emblem of our nation.

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