November 29

Donald Trump Wants Consequences for Burning U.S. Flag

In some early morning tweets, Donald Trump spoke about the usual topics he has been addressing this week. He tweeted about “failing” CNN, and he spoke about illegal votes. A little borderline inappropriate as POTUS, but as this point, we are used to Trump’s Twitter tactics. Then, he threw in a curveball, and tweeted, “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag- if they do, there much be consequences- perhaps loss of citizenship or a year in jail.” This tweet got 25,000 retweets, and 69,000 likes. Of course, it has also sparked a media frenzy.

There has been a lot of discussion this year with the flag, specifically in regards to first amendment rights. NBA player Colin Kaepernick chose to remain seated during the national anthem, which caused a huge reaction. Those opposed to his action stated that the flag represents the constitution, and by him refusing to stand, shows that he disrespects America’s democracy. And for those for his actions, they said that was exactly the point. How could he stand up for a government that pushes (in regards to the African American community) him down?

So, in line with this argument, you have people burning the American flag. For whatever reason they are protesting, they view this as a right to their free speech, our first amendment. The issue of whether or not it is legal to burn the flag was settled by the Supreme Court.  The case opinion said, “We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.” Herein lies the irony of punishing those for burning the flag. Freedom allows you to burn the flag, but the flag represents freedom.

While burning the flag is, of course, disrespectful, the highest court says it is okay by the law. But flag burning is a constitutional right that Trump, clearly, thinks should be addressed in a different way.

This response on Twitter could have been due to a protest outside Trump Tower where the American flag was on fire. A tweet such as this, however, in the role as president-elect, is serious. The constitution protects individual liberties by law. But for some, including Trump, the way they are executed is up to interpretation.