Burning the Constitution

Bret Belden

Now more than ever it is important for journalists to do their job right. Over the past few months, the “media” has had a heightened poor reputation of being “biased” because of the peculiar  presidential election. Don’t get me wrong, the media has made its fair share of mistakes, but it is important to remember that quality journalism and news organizations of all sizes are out there and need your help to support the people who dedicate their lives to bringing light to communities unheard, voice to the voiceless and call bullshit when they see it. And I am here to call some BS.

As many have probably seen, Donald Trump has once again caused a political uproar with his Twitter account. On Nov. 29 at 6:55 a.m. he 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!” Now, I want to make it clear that I have come to respect that this is our president-elect. As a journalist and an aspiring editor, it is my job to fairly and accurately portray his decisions made as president and I intend on doing just that. But when I see him making statements where he needs to be called out, as you all already know, he is getting called out. And this is one of those instances.

I don’t think that burning the American flag is right and it makes me extremely uncomfortable to see an image of the flag being burned. As a proud American and granddaughter of two veterans, I find it very disrespectful. So, I guess you could say I see where Trump is coming from and, in a way I agree with him; it is wrong. That being said, part of what I love about being an American is having many rights of freedom and liberty protected by the Constitution. I find it immensely troubling that the president-elect has threatened more than one Constitutional right in less than 140 characters.

However, I am going to focus on my favorite amendment, the first amendment, that has yet again been stabbed by Mr.Trump. You can’t punish people for expressing dissent and in 1989 and in 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that burning the flag constitutes political speech, therefore cannot be banned. The government cannot prohibit this expression because it is offensive to people, which includes myself, as it is protected by the first amendment. I think what we need to be most concerned about is that a lot of people agree that this should be a criminal offense and with one step into adjusting the first amendment will come more, as already threatened by Trump throughout his campaign.

As Americans, we need to realize the importance of being able to criticize the government without fear. Regardless of if we all agree with one another. Democracy was built on freedom. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and it is vital that we continue to fight for and educate each other on our rights.