Flag Burning Might Be Offensive, But it is Protected Speech (New at Reason)

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With one tweet earlier this week, President-elect Trump reignited a long-settled argument over whether or not government forces can punish deliberately provocative speech, such as flag burning.

The soon-to-be president called for the removal of citizenship and/or one year imprisonment for torching a U.S. flag, but as Andrew Napolitano writes in a new column for Reason, the Supreme Court has repeatedly protected the right to offend, and this manifestation of it in particular:

The First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from enacting laws infringing upon the freedom of speech, has consistently been interpreted in the modern era so as to insulate the public manifestation of political ideas from any government interference, whether the manifestation is by word or deed or both. This protection applies even to ideas that are hateful, offensive, unorthodox, and outright un-American. Not a few judges and constitutional scholars have argued that the First Amendment was written for the very purpose of protecting the expression of hateful ideas, as lovable or popular ideas need no protection.

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