Trump Inspires Flag Burning

Or at least that’s what I suspect will happen after protestors are inspired to burn an American flag to spite his ill-informed tweet.

Per CNN.com, Trump tweeted: Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

I don’t know why there is this disconnect between free speech and flag burning? You can’t outlaw flag burning and still have free speech. It’s ironical in a way, but true. The American flag stands for something which is considered a form of speech. What it stands for can vary, often subject to interpretation and debate, but generally speaking we do believe the flag represents the ideals of the United States–one of which is free speech. If somebody doesn’t like what the American flag stands for then they are allowed to burn it, step on it, spit on it, etc…because if they could not do so then the American flag is actually meaningless and would no longer represent free speech.

While I wouldn’t blame those who like to test free speech to go out and burn a flag, I think it’s a trap. There appears to be no cause for this tweet by Mr. Trump and therefore I think he believes he can get a boost in popularity by baiting protestors into burning flags and then tweet-condemning them with nationalistic fervor. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that burning American flags is constitutionally protected even though they dislike the practice. It’s a nonissue.