Yep, he’s at it again. Yesterday morning, in response to a decision by students at Hampshire College to not raise the flag on November 18th after it was burned by unnamed students, he did it again.
President Elect 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!”
Burning the American flag offends many of us. Lots of us, like me, grew up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the school day. We recognized how fortunate we were to live in a country that was based on the proposition that all of us were created equal. And we learned to revere the Constitution.
Well, most of us. The first 10 amendments compose the Bill of Rights and the first amendment states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In her brilliant book The Words We Live By by Linda Monk speaks of free speech not solely as spoken words but also “symbolic speech.” For example, in 1968 the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. O’Brien that burning a draft card is a form of protected speech.
In 1989 the Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson in 1989 that flag burning is also protected speech.
And so Don cannot jail someone for burning a flag, no matter how offended he (and I) find it. We’re joined by Justice Antonin Scalia who said: “If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag but I am not king.”
So can he revoke someone’s citizenship? No. If you’re a citizen because you, or one of your parents, were born here, you cannot lose your citizenship unless you renounce it. You can read about it here. The same article shows that naturalized citizens can have their citizenship revoked in only the narrowest of reasons.
None of them allow anyone to revoke our citizenship by exercising our 1st amendment right to free speech.
Sorry Don, maybe your rant will gain you popularity but it just makes you look more uneducated on the job you’ll assume in January.