First Amendment & The American Flag

March 7, 2017


Upside Down Flag:

In Waverly, Iowa you will almost never find anything out of the ordinary; or something that the whole town isn’t already aware of/doesn’t already know. So, once a flag is hung upside down with purpose in such a small town like this one, it is quite the dilemma.

Anelia saw a man posting on Facebook about how a person in town had hung their American flag upside down and he believed that whoever had hung it upside down, had no right and needed to get what he deserved

Townies, am I right?

But, I mean, it makes sense to somewhat be concerned since an American flag being hung upside-down is a National symbol for distress and/or having an issue with the Government.

However, assuming this flag owner is an American citizen, they do have the freedom to hang their American flag however they want to, or not want to! It’s not a law to even hang an American flag at all! It’s simply freedom that comes with being an American citizen.

So, Anelia, the iRoving reporting who lives her beat, went out to get the whole scoop. 

She bugged the upside-down flag person and they called the cops on her for harassment. Interviewing a cop, she learned that the flag owner does in fact have a right to hang their flag whichever way they want to; see Amendment 1 in the United States Constitution.

The upside-down flag person chose not to comment; nonetheless it became public knowledge that he is a professor at Wartburg College in the town.

On Assignment with Anelia.

Well, a Waverly councilman had something to say about this professor to the public, via his Facebook post:

Hey Waverly, you love your Wartburg College – Or do you love your Country?

Wartburg College Professor currently put OUR American Flag and hung it upside down outside his house.

This is your college. There are people on Waverly City Council that work at this college…

Is this how you want Waverly represented? Having one of your College Professors hang the American Flag upside down outside his house on display?

If you think this is wrong (how could you not) I would encourage you to call Wartburg College President and tell him to have his employee either fix his American Flag and tell you if this is what he wants the image of his college to be. My college. I am a graduate as well.

Darrel D. Colson
President
319-352-8450

-Wes Gade, Waverly Councilman 

After this Facebook post gained attention, and 88 comments later, The Courier had a story prepared on the dilemma and the Facebook post.

Next, we hear the public comments on both the dilemma AND the post! Waverly City Council (March 6, 2017)

Thanks, Trump, you’ve managed to divide even one of the tiniest towns in Iowa. 

This is a college town. Don’t they have drunk college students to be worried about?



Texas v. Johnson

Facts:

  • In 1984, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag outside of a Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas
  • He burnt the flag in protest of at the time President Ronald Reagan’s policies
  • Johnson was arrested and charged with violating a Texas statue that prevented the desecration of a venerated object; in this case, the American flag
  • He was tried and convicted, but he appealed with the argument that his actions were “symbolic speech” protected by the First Amendment

Issue:

  • Whether flag burning constitutes “symbolic speech” protected by the the First Amendment

Ruling: Yes (5-4)

Reasoning:

  • Flag burning constitutes a form of “symbolic speech” that’s protected by the First Amendment
  • Majority noted that freedom of speech protects actions that society may find offensive- but society’s outrage alone is not justification for suppressing free speech
  • Majority noted that the Texas law discriminated upon viewpoint; majority voted that the government could not discriminate in this manner based solely upon viewpoint

More on Texas V. Johnson

Argued: March 21, 1989

Decided: June 21, 1989

“BRENNAN, J., Opinion of the Court

JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

After publicly burning an American flag as a means of political protest, Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted of desecrating a flag in violation of Texas law. This case presents the question whether his conviction is consistent with the First Amendment. We hold that it is not.”

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