The Supreme Court declared years ago that desecrating the American flag is a form of free speech. As such, it is protected under the First Amendment.
But what about other forms of abusing the flag?
Missouri has a law on the books making it illegal to steal an American flag. Fox News reported Monday that Republican state Sen. John Kavanagh of Arizona is proposing a similar measure that would make stealing the flag a felony.
“It occurred to me that when you steal a flag that someone is displaying other than for sale, you’re not only stealing the object but you’re stealing the person’s expressive right,” Kavanagh said. “People display the flag for patriotism or even for protest, and you are stealing their First Amendment expression rights.”
The proposed legislation would make the consequences for stealing a flag similar to stealing a gun. If convicted, offenders could face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The law would apply only to flags stolen from private property. Flags stolen from stores would be treated in the same fashion as any other store robbery.
Tuscon.com reported that the new legislation would “carve an exception into existing law that generally determines the severity of a theft by the value of what is taken.” The result in this case would change the theft of a flag from a misdemeanor to a felony.
The law would apply only to the American flag and not to other flags private citizens may choose to post.
“You have to draw the line somewhere,” Kavanagh said. “And the flag of our nation, which has a special place in the hearts of its citizens – and in law – is the one that I think is most appropriate.”
No doubt some liberals will fight this bill and the law if it passes. But Kavanagh has a point. We have to draw the line somewhere. And stealing the flag from someone’s personal property does seem like a good place to start.
Source: Fox News