Flag Burning & Free Speech Essay

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Flag Burning & Free Speech Flag burning became a political issue during the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas during Ronald Reagan’s renomination for president. Gregory Lee Johnson burned the United States flag in 1984 as an act of protest against Reagan’s policies and started a very controversial issue. While a crowd of over one hundred protesters watched, one protestor pulled down an American flag for Johnson, an advocate for the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, instead of saluting it he doused the flag with kerosene and set it ablaze. The crowd chanted “America, the red, white, and blue, we spit on you.” Johnson was convicted for destroying a respected object under Texas law, however he claimed that the First Amendment protected his action: freedom of speech. Johnson appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court. Robert Justin Goldstein wrote a 272-page book on this issue examining this milestone case in America’s history, Flag Burning & Free Speech: The Case of Texas v. Johnson. The book was published in November 2000. He depicts both sides of the intense case with true trial evidence. His thesis throughout the book: “Is burning the American flag as an act of protest protected by the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech.” Goldstein takes us from the 1989 incident that ignited the national controversy back to the origins of the flag as a symbol of America’s liberty and democracy. He explains the history of the American flag’s debate on desecration. Before 1984, the government had passed laws preventing desecration of the flag, but now Supreme Court protects burning the flag by the First Amendment. The author of this incredible work is a professor of political science at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He has also taught at San Diego State University. Goldstein has wrote several books and articles focused on

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