Trump has spouted more vitriol. Words that pop from the depths of his mind and find the light of social media and news outlets without any thought being given to them. Words that slip past the conscious mind and thereby reveal the inner Trump. More words that bode ill for us. More words that bode disaster for the children and grandchildren of my generation. Words that, if they have any design at all, are designed to appeal to “Trump’s Chumps,” the ignorant, unwashed, biased masses which narrowly put him in office.
"Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!" Trump said in a tweet.
In response, Mitch McConnell said, "The Supreme Court has held that that activity [burning an American flag] is a protected First Amendment right, a form of unpleasant speech…”
He added, “…in this country we have a long tradition of respecting unpleasant speech.”
We all know (or should know) that the First Amendment to the Constitution, the first Amendment in the Bill of Rights, ensures freedom of religion, speech, and the press. To refresh our memories, here is the complete Amendment:
“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 redress of grievances.”
Trump is so far off base he’s leaning against the outfield fence. McConnell, bless his heart, was right (for a change). In the first place, burning the American flag, as unpleasant or traumatic as that is to many people, is a form of speech protected by the Constitution and two rulings of the Supreme Court.
In the second place, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution prohibits the removal of the citizenship of a natural-born American.
What I am trying to show, and believe I succeeded in showing, is that once again Trump shows us he is a loose cannon, rolling around the deck of the Ship of State, crashing into bulkheads of law and custom that have protected us for more than 200 years.
There are many, many people who can craft their words better than I can. One is David C. Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University who co-wrote the Supreme Court briefs on flag burning. He said, “To me it is deeply troubling that the person who is going to become the most powerful government official in the United States doesn’t understand the first thing about the First Amendment…”
I can only say, “It is more important to protect the rights enshrined in the Constitution than to pander to the inflated ego of a narcissist.” Visualize the world that will exist for your children and grandchildren if Trump and the increasingly sycophantic Congress and press are able to remove First Amendment protections? Visualize George Orwell’s “1984” on steroids.
Registered Curmudgeon, scientist, skeptic, humanist, and writer.