Essay, Research Paper: Flag Burning Crime

Legal Issues

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Flag burning can be and usually is a very controversial issue with people. Many
people believe that the American flag stands for something important and
shouldnít be destroyed in that manner. Others believe that flag burning is a
statement that one should be able to make without major repercussions. Both
sides have valid opinions and both sides state their case well. Although I am
neither nor or against the burning of the flag, I believe the right should not
be taken away. I believe that if a group of people have valid reasons and a
valid point to make by obliterating a flag in such a way, they should have the
right to do it. The people who are against flag burning seem to generally be
those who have served this country through war and through other such ways. They
are older people who believe that this country is quite wonderful if not almost
perfect. They have a strong sense of patriotism to this country and would die
for what it stands for: liberty and freedom. They could compare it to the
burning of crosses in front of a church or to the way the Nazis turned a very
beautiful symbol into a racial and religious hate badge for murderers.
Disrespect for tradition is what it boils down to. From a young age we are
conditioned to blindly respect that flag hanging from a pole and to pledge out
allegiance to it without even knowing what it truly is. It has been tradition
for at least three generations. People who have been prisoners of war or people
who fought for this country have a reason to respect it so much. The have fought
long and hard for what we have and respect it. Some of our generation doesnít
realize how lucky we have it. A child of this generation could debate how good
and pure and wonderful this country is and could show you how we have had our
liberty and freedom taken away to the point that we really donít have any.
True, we have had our freedom limited a bit, but that is only for the protection
of ourselves from one another and from the government. As far as flag burning
goes, people of this generation and other generations, have a right to show how
they feel about whatís going on in this country. They feel that this county is
doing something wrong and that is how they choose to express their grievance.
The first amendment to the Constitution states that "Congress should make
no law. . .abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the
people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of
grievances." So according to that document, we have the right to get
together peacefully and petition or rally or group together to try to get the
government to listen. Sometimes it takes as much as burning a flag to get the
attention of those in the White House and in Congress. As long as they arenít
hurting anyone and it is a peaceful act, they are guaranteed the constitutional
right to do that. Here is where it gets tricky and where my opinion come into
it. I believe that as long as you arenít hurting anyone else and as long as
you have valid reasons for doing such a thing, it isnít disrespectful to our
nation. Granted, that could be what you are trying to do, but this nation is a
great one, although it needs a little work. No one is perfect. I believe that if
you are trying to get the governmentís attention, you can find a better way to
do it. I prefer the inverted flag. It stands for a sign of distress, which is
what most of the flag burners seem to be trying to say. Furthermore, if you look
at the situation closely, itís an oxymoron. The American flag is a symbol of
liberty and freedom. It is a symbol of everything that we, as a country, have
gone through to get where we are. If you remove the right for someone to show
how they feel about such a symbol, you are removing their freedom. Hence, itís
an oxymoron. I donít personally think that I would ever try or feel the need
to burn the flag, just because I think it is an irrational way to state
something. If I ever did feel the need to burn one, I would have a valid reason
beforehand that I would explain to everyone before I burned the flag. I
personally think that there are better ways to go about doing things, ways that
will attract less negative attention. Of course, I donít think it is right for
us to rule over what other people believe and how other people show it. My stand
point on this whole thing is let people believe what they want. Let people show
what they believe however they want. We canít take away that right. We can
take it away when it begins hurting other people and infringing on their right
to life, liberty and property. Thatís where the line needs to be drawn. If, by
burning a flag, you intentionally hurt someone physically, or end up damaging
their property, that is when action should be taken against you. If we take away
this fundamental right to express ourselves and how we feel about our nation (in
ways such as flag burning), we can no longer say that we live in a true country
of liberty and freedom. The "land of the free and the home of the
brave" no longer exists when our right to free speech, press and petition
are taken away.
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