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Need to keep Constitution, First Amendment

Nov 29 • Opinion, Samantha Griswold • 925

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One of the most entertaining, yet concerning and slightly disturbing, things about 2016 is Donald Trump, though I’m not here to whine about how he won the presidency.

One of the things hindering me from being able to accept Trump as our soon-to-be president is that he either has no idea how our government actually functions, or he just chooses to ignore it – both of which are pretty troubling.

Trump is known for his incessant Twitter rampages and he lived up to his legacy once again Tuesday when he tweeted his opinion on the heated topic of flag burning.

Trump tweeted, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

Trump not only proposed a punishment for those who wish to exercise their First Amendment right, but also suggested that they should be stripped of their American citizenship – both of which have historically been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

In the 1989 ‘Texas v. Johnson’ case, the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning was a form of “symbolic speech” protected by the First Amendment and a year later in ‘United States v. Eichman,’ the court again confirmed the right to burn the flag when it ruled that the Flag Protection Act of 1989 was unconstitutional.

I’m not one of those people who are freaking out thinking that Trump is going to be the next Fidel Castro – though that is in the back of my mind somewhere. I know that there are checks and balances put in place, but with a Republican president and a Republican-dominated House and Senate, it starts to get a little fuzzy on where exactly those checks and balances are.

When the President-elect of the U.S. suggests overruling the Constitution, then you know there’s something wrong with the direction in which our country is going.

I have a complicated history with this particular topic — I was a military brat, so there’s an innate sense of nationality that was bred into me, which conflicts with my newly found sense of what is important in life.

I believe that everybody should have freedom of expression, even if that means desecrating the flag, because it’s just that — a piece of fabric. An object only has meaning if you give it meaning.

The people who are getting so upset about the flag burnings in the recent protests are the same people who are sitting back and doing nothing while the protesters are getting screwed over by their government.

If people really feel that strongly about the symbolism of the American flag, then maybe they should do something to help the situations that are eliciting these burnings, instead of throwing a fit.

Burning the flag won’t hurt our country, but taking away our free speech will.

SAMANTHA GRISWOLD
griswold002@knights.gannon.edu

 

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