Should Flag Burning Be Illegal?

Does the First Amendment give us the right to
desecrate the American flag? Or is the flag a sacred
symbol of our nation, deserving protection by law?

I found this site that really made me think about this.

For an example

Is it intrusive to think that we can arrest people for not honoring a symbol?

And after all, that is what our flag is, a symbol, of our brave and free nation. Land of the free home of the brave.
We cannot arrest people who mutilate our nationl anthem by singing it horribly, can we?

We cannot assume that they are thinking treasonous thoughts just because they cannot carry a tune.

If you ask a mother. Not just any mother,
but a mother who gave a son or daughter for America. It
doesn’t even have to be in war. It could be a cop. A
fireman. Maybe a Secret Service agent. When that son or daughter is laid to rest, their family is given one gift by the
American people: an American flag. Isn’t that sacred? Shouldn’t it be protected?

Some would say that Flag-burning is the most visible sign of dissatisfaction with the government, and dissatisfaction with government is an absolute must in a democracy.

Without the right to protest government actions or be dissatisfied, you have a dictatorship, or a fascist government.

Some would argue that we are perilously close to that form of government already.

Symbols are needed though…apply the same principals to say the cross…the KKK burns a cross good or bad?..freedom or hate crime? same difference…

What is your opinion?

What’s yours?

Touchy subject, for sure.
I love my country and I love my flag and I fly it high and proud.

I do not think burning a flag should be illegal. However I do think that flag burning is wrong.

So what the Boy Scouts are doing is wrong? If not, why is it ok to burn a flag to honor it and your country but not to voice disapproval with your country?

Just like the flag is a symbol, burning the flag is a symbol and it should most definitely not be illegal.

Disregarding free speech arguments (which should be enough to allow flag burning IMO), the only harm done is that people’s feelings are hurt, which I personally feel is not quite worth a Constitutional amendment.

I cannot see how burning strips of fabric bound together by thread should be illegal.

Burning a flag should be mandatory under the current administration.

Seriously, though, if a flag-burning amendment is ever passed, then the only thing set afire will be the Constitution.

This is a stupid idea, and the idea that Congress wastes my money by discussing it makes me ill.

I completely agree with your conclusion, Tim, but with this exception. If Boy Scouts retiring a flag by burning it expresses approval and radicals burning one in an anti-government policy rally expresses disapproval, then the only difference is a matter of free speech. Free speech is the very underpinning of our democratic way of life. To abridge that in any way is to cut at the foundation of Democracy. How can you “disregard free speech arguments” in this issue, when free speech is the issue?

My answer to the OP question, “should flag burning be illegal?” is an unequivocal “NO!”

I wonder what the founding fathers thought of the
American flag as they drafted the Declaration of
Independence? They knew this act would drag young America
into war with England, the greatest power on Earth. They
also knew failure meant more than disappointment. It meant
a noose snugly stretched around their necks. But they
needed a symbol, something to inspire the new nation.
Something to represent the serious purpose and conviction
we held for our new idea of individual freedom. Something
worth living for. Something worth dying for. I wonder how
they’d feel about burning a flag?

Burning a flag is a naive celebration of one’s right to burn a flag: in the act of criticizing their government, the burner is actually celebrating his freedoms as an American. Why make that illegal?

It’s unclear to me from the above if you grasp the concept that, should a flag-burning amendment pass, then it’s PART of the Constitution, and prohibiting flag-buring does no damage to the amended Constitution.

  • Rick

I don’t think burning the flag should be illegal, though I don’t buy the argument that it is a dislike of the current government. If somebody wants to burn pictures of Bush or anybody else, then go for it. I don’t see what Bush or any government has to do with the flag. I view flag burning as anti American, regardless if it’s done by a bunch of loonies in Iran or on the streets of Washington D.C.

I have this neighbor who has a sticker of an American flag upside down on their door. I hope this neighbor wouldn’t mind if I didn’t bother to call the cops, if I ever saw a burglar entering their home, as I would also be exercising my rights, and showing my disapproval of their disgusting behavior.


Nice try Bricker. As you no doubt know, blanx was lamenting the damage that would be done to the Constitution by the passing of such an amendment.

I know of no religion that considers the American flag holy or divine.


I agree free speech is the primary issue; I meant “disregard” as “put it to the side for now”, just for the sake of putting forth my other argument. Free Speech is certainly paramount to this issue.

This debate has always fascinated me. I always assumed (for whatever reason) that Conservatives would oppose a ban on flag burning and Liberals would support the ban. Come to find out, it was completely the opposite.

I’m pretty hard-core conservative, but I don’t think flag burning should be burned. If this country is about nothing else, it’s about vocal outcry toward the government. Lord knows I spent most of the 90s wanting to do just that.

So as much as I love this country, the constitution, etc., I just can’t come up with a great reason to outlaw flag burning.

Want the opinions of a retired Petty Officer First Class, US Navy? Well, here it is: (1) The flag’s not sacred & therefore can’t be desecrated. (2) Flag burning should not be illegal as it’s protected free speech.

If they were to make flag burning illegal, that would make me want to go out and light one up.

If burning the Flag in protest is banned, then the protesters will have Constitution burning demonstrations. Then the pro-FBA will smack their heads.

  1. I can think of no reason to ban flag burning. If it offends you, well, it’s SUPPOSED to offend you. Just like when someone yells a political slogan that you dislike.

  2. It will be impossible to differentiate legally between “protest” flag burning and “respectfull” flag burning.

Banning flag burning will only make the flag burners want to do it even more. If you want to stop flag burning, ignore it. If it’s ignored, it will serve no purpose.

I do believe it is generally illegal to burn anything in most public places, though. Especially in an urban setting where flag burning would generally be done.