Well, Donald Trump has seen enough. He issued a statement on Twitter this morning mulling over the idea. He is proposing a loss of citizenship or a year in jail for those who burn the flag!
Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016
This breaks from former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion on flag burning.
“We have a first amendment which says the right of free speech will not be abridged and it is addressed in particular to speech critical of the government…burning the flag is a form of expression…Burning a flag is a symbol that expresses an idea. I hate the government. The government is unjust. Whatever.”
Both Mr. Trump and Justice Scalia are right that burning the flag is abhorrent. While burning the flag is protected by the 1st amendment, it is possible that if burning the flag incites a riot they are guilty of a crime.
18 U.S. Code 2102 defines the term “to incite a riot” as such to “organize, promote, encourage, participate in, or carry on a riot, includes, but is not limited to, urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not be deemed to mean the mere oral or written (1) advocacy of ideas or (2) expression of belief, not involving advocacy of any act or acts of violence or assertion of the rightness of, or the right to commit, any such act or acts.”
If that’s the case then there should be harsh punishment doled out to those inciting a riot especially the types of riots we have seen over the past year that have wreaked havoc on cities throughout the country from Charlotte to Portland from Richmond to Milwaukee.
What do you think? Should flag burning result in loss of citizenship or a year in jail? Or should it remain protected by the First Amendment?