The First Amendment Speech : The Destruction Of The American Flag

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The supreme court ruling regarding the destruction of the American flag decided it was legal because it was an expression of an opinion. Gregory Lee Johnson burned the American Flag publicly at the 1984 Republican Convention to protest Ronald Reagan’s policies - he was “charged with violating a Texas statute that prevented the desecration of a venerated object, including the American flag, if such action were likely to incite anger in others”, however, the court ruled in Johnson’s favor (United States Courts, n.d.). Many witnesses were offended but the burning flag did not physically harm anyone or put anyone in danger, further backing up Johnson with the First Amendment's freedom of (symbolic) speech. Lee and the fellow protesters pointed out things such as anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons (wiki, n.d.). Many other protesters participated in physical protest like vandalism and graffiti, and while these may seem like considerably worse acts than burning a flag, no one was charged but Lee. Originally, “he was convicted, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,000” (Legal Information Institute, n.d.) - specifically, he was convicted for desecrating a flag in violation of Texas law. Though, this happened in 1984 we still see similar things happening. In many recent NFL football games, players have been taking a knee while others are standing for the national anthem, putting their hands to their hearts. While this is also symbolic speech, just as Johnson’s actions,
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