President-elect Donald J. Trump has made fools of the mainstream media once again, with his tweet about flag burners–how, in his opinion, they ought to receive some sort of punishment. Typically, the media, and the left, went berserk.
He’s so dumb! He doesn’t know it’s unconstitutional to ban flag burning! He’s a threat to our constitutional rights! A potential dictator! He doesn’t know flag burning was ruled protected speech by the Supreme Court!
All Trump did was to suggest possible punishments, which Hillary Clinton herself suggested in a bill, which she herself introduced when she was a senator. Her bill didn’t pass, but even so, it was also Hillary’s idea to punish flag burners.
“But, but, but,” the media and the left spluttered. “She didn’t try to take away their citizenship.” Well, neither did Trump. All he said was that “perhaps” that might be a suitable punishment. A suggestion.
There’s no evidence in the 140-character Tweet, that Trump doesn’t know that it would take a law that he’d have to sign to punish flag burning.
Flag burning. It’s a constitutional right. Protected free speech, according to the Supreme Court. Well, to a degree. It’s symbolic speech and should be protected under the First Amendment, when that’s all it is. Not when it’s a threat. Not when it’s intimidation. Not when it’s deliberately offensive to, for example, our veterans. (In other words, when it represents the equivalent of “fighting words,” designed to incite anger or violence.) And especially not when it’s done to someone else’s flag on someone else’s property.
Isn’t it odd how the same folks who avidly defend the “right” to burn the U.S. flag also rabidly go after other types of symbolic speech, such as flying the Confederate Flag, burning a cross, or putting up monuments to Confederate leaders and even some of the Founding Fathers who owned slaves?
The thing is, and this is a point that should be made very clear: It’s not protected speech to take down and burn someone else’s flag. No, that’s called vandalism and theft.
When the flag belongs to the college you attend and it’s flying on a flagpole that belongs to that institution, then you have no constitutional right to take it down and destroy it. Of course, it’s up to the administration of any private institution how they react to such vandalism, theft, and arson; but giving unruly, disrespectful students a pass cannot be defended as protection of their First Amendment rights.
Any institution that looks the other way should be prepared to face the consequences in the form of angry parents, veterans, and students who disagree, not to mention probable drops in enrollment as well as donations. They also ought to check their insurance policies to see if they cover looking the other way and allowing arson that might get out of control and damage other property and even perhaps endanger human lives. Think on that, politically correct university administrators.
It’s another story altogether if the institution is a public university, funded by taxpayer dollars. It would seem that in that case the administration should have no choice whatsoever but to punish the students severely. Nobody has a constitutional right to commit vandalism, theft, or arson on public property, of public property.
Similarly, and this is another point that should be made very clear: It’s absolutely not peaceful protest and it’s no one’s constitutional right to block roads or highways, interfering with the free movement of other people. In fact, if it’s a federal highway, it should be a federal offense.
Too often these days, law enforcement have been ordered to “stand down” and allow some individuals, in the name of “peaceful protest” or “free speech,” to interfere with the lives of their fellow citizens. This has only emboldened so-called protesters to perform even more inflammatory and disruptive acts.
There’s a new sheriff in town now. Something tells me that the laissez-faire attitude will soon change, when President Trump takes office.
Just as the Border Patrol will soon be able to do their jobs again, police and highway patrol officers will soon be able to do their jobs again. Thanks to the fundamental transformation of Washington DC.