Trump Wants Flag Burners Punished

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Trump Wants Flag Burners Punished
by Stephen Lendman
On November 29, he tweeted “(n)obody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequence – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail.”
The Constitution’s First Amendment “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”
Flag burning is a legitimate form of speech. In Texas v. Johnson (1989), Justice William Brennan, writing for the majority, said “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable.”
Jefferson said “(w)hat country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance.” Separately he said free speech “cannot be limited without being lost.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall stressed “(a)bove all else, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression (regardless of its) ideas…subject matter (or) content…Our people are guaranteed the right to express any thought, free from government censorship.”
That includes flag burning or calling a public official a son-of-a-bitch – or words to that effect if he or she deserves it.
Compromising academic, press and speech freedoms risks losing all others. If Trump governs this way, he’ll be despotic, breaching fundamental international and constitutional law. Hopefully his tweet was just bluster.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman
Stephen Lendman was born in 1934 in Boston, MA. In 1956, he received a BA from Harvard University. Two years of US Army service followed, then an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1960. After working seven years as a marketing research analyst, he joined the Lendman Group family business in 1967. He remained there until retiring at year end 1999. Writing on major world and national issues began in summer 2005. In early 2007, radio hosting followed. Lendman now hosts the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network three times weekly. Distinguished guests are featured. Listen live or archived. Major world and national issues are discussed. Lendman is a 2008 Project Censored winner and 2011 Mexican Journalists Club international journalism award recipient.