The Sleuth Journal

Trump’s Threat Against the First Amendment

You can’t be an enabler of people who want to strip others of their citizenship because of the way they think, just because someone else did it before or attempted to do it before.

Burning a flag, as horrendous as it is, is part of free speech and no one should lose their citizenship because of it.

Next thing we see is people losing their rights for looking at someone in a way they don’t like.

Yes, liberals, conservatives and everyone else who values their rights should criticize Trump for this. Criticize or become enablers of a man who thinks burning a flag is enough to cancel someone’s citizenship.

Many alternative media, that call themselves defenders of liberty and freedom, such as Infowars.com and reporter Joe Biggs, have published articles where they say that it won’t take too long to hear liberals attacking Trump for his stance on jailing people who burn the American flag.

Instead of condemning Trump’s threat to strip people of their citizenship and/or jailing them for doing what many people believe is an attack on American values, they hurried up to say that Hillary Clinton had asked for the same thing some years ago, as if the problem is that someone did it before Trump.

Biggs goes on to show a tweet published on Donald Trump’s Twitter account where he says that people who burn flags should be sent to jail or have their citizenship removed.

The Infowars.com reporter also shows a Wikipedia page with details about the Flag Protection Act of 2005, which was sponsored by Hillary Clinton. The FPA calls for the prohibition of attacks on the American flag.

According to Wikipedia:

The law would have prohibited burning or otherwise destroying and damaging the US flag with the primary purpose of intimidation or inciting immediate violence or for the act of terrorism. It called for a punishment of no more than one year in prison and a fine of no more than $100,000; unless that flag was property of the United States Government, in which case the penalty would be a fine of not more than $250,000, not more than two years in prison, or both.

What Donald Trump and his supporters forget is that many people around the world burn American flags all the time. Burning a flag from any country is not necessarily a sign of hate or terrorism, but of dissatisfaction or opposition to someone or something. Calling for the jailing of people who burn American flags has the same effect as Hillary Clinton’s statement of Trump supporters being a basket of deplorables.

In the United States, the burning of the flag is protected as freedom of expression, guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

In 1989, in the case of Texas vs. Johnson, the Supreme Court ruled that the burning of the flag was an act of political expression that was, therefore, constitutional.

The National Constitution Center, in a reconstruction of the debate on the burning of the flag, recalls that in 1989, after the decision of the Supreme Court, Congress adopted a law against the burning of the flag, but in 1990 the court annulled it.

A quote from Judge William Brennan:

“If there is a principle that supports the First Amendment, it is that the government cannot prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society thinks this idea is offensive or unpleasant.”

The debate did not end. In 2005 Congress proposed a law to criminalize the burning of the flag.

It was prompted by, among others, then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat rival of Republican Trump on November 8. The law was not passed.

Trump’s message about the burning of the flag is not the first to question the First Amendment.

In recent weeks, it has questioned the exercise of the rights it enshrines, such as freedom of assembly and of the press.

The First Amendment, in addition to protecting the burning of the flag, also protects hate speech, for example.

Trump himself has repeatedly declared his admiration for Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court justice who died in February. Scalia was a conservative icon. His was the decisive vote to authorize the burning of the flag in the Texas vs Johnson case.

He hated those who burned flags, but he hated even more those who violated the Constitution. “If it were up to me, I would put in jail all these weird guys in sandals and scruffy beards to the American flag,” he said in one of his last speeches before he died. “But I’m not a king.”

Nor is Trump a king.

His ability to turn his threats into law is limited. You can not change the law: Congress must do it.

Trump cannot decide on its constitutionality either: that role corresponds to the Supreme Court. Trump does not have the capacity to impose prison sentences or to remove citizenship from anyone.

People cannot have their cake and eat it too. You either defend and support free speech or you don’t. Here at The Real Agenda News we do; every single time, no matter how horrendous someone’s speech is, and no matter how much we disagree with it.

As for those who spin bad news to make it look better, there is no good bad news, but even your spin of news is protected under the First Amendment.

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