The Morality of Flag Burning

The burning of a nation’s flag is an illegal act in most countries and in the United States, where it is legal, it is still hotly debated. In fact, in 2006 the Senate narrowly blocked an amendment by one vote, which, if amended into the constitution, would prohibit burning the U.S. flag under constitutional law. However the debate on whether flag burning should be legal or not is another topic that can be written about at another time. The morality of flag burning, the part that most tend to ignore, is the part that will be focused on today.

Burning the American flag in a protest is a serious action that can easily get news attention, which will get people’s attention. Some will just brush it off as a protest and that’s all, but many will most likely be greatly disturbed by the desecration of our flag. It may even project a message saying “I hate America”, even if that’s not what the protester(s) think or believe. To the disturbed people, the American flag is an almost (or entirely) sacred object that must be treated with respect. These values are shared by military practices of properly disposing of the American flag, which, oddly, means burning it. The difference in this and burning flags in protest is the theme of the event. In the military the cremation of an American flag is an event of remembrance, but in protest it is an event of almost hatred. However conservatives and liberals have their own takes on the morality of flag burning.

The moral argument from people against flag burning is largely rooted in history, particularly in remembrance of the lives lost in wars where soldiers were fighting for the United States, especially the American Revolution. The flag to many of them is a symbol of those lives lost for this country. Let’s put it this way, many people died for this country so that way Americans could now desecrate the American flag. So why desecrate it to begin with? If these people hated America because of their economic situation, try harder at fixing it. This is America, after all, not France, or worse yet, Greece. The American citizen still has the power to at least try to be successful in the United States. The argument from people who acknowledge the right to burn the U.S. flag is simple; that desecrating the American flag is perfectly allowed within the constitution and is political free speech. They argue that safely burning an American flag does no damage to people’s safety.

The desecration of the American flag is one of those old news topics that is still hotly disagreed upon today. The impact and morality of flag burning, with all of its emotions that it inspires, may never be settled. But this hopefully gives some insight into the moral ethics of burning the flag of this great nation.