As Americans, we live in a nation that provides unlimited opportunity and freedom that is unparalleled in the history of the human experience. Through it all, the flag of our country has stood as a symbol of that freedom and opportunity. Men and women have died to protect it and Americans from all walks of life have sacrificed a great deal to freely display it. However, all of this is countered with a frightening fact- The Constitution of the United States of America promotes desecration of the flag through the protection of flag burning as an expression of free speech (Goldstein, 1994).
Therefore, the Constitution cries out for an amendment to protect the flag at all costs because without protection of the very symbol of freedom, the underlying democracy will in time fall by the wayside as well. This should not be taken as a harbinger of the end of democracy, however. In this speech, the following main points will be discussed: • There are far too many cases of flag desecration, as will be proven by statistics • The problem of flag desecration will not go away by itself, so action is needed
• Without action, the freedom that the flag represents will go up in flames like the abused flags themselves II. NEED STEP: Flag Desecration is Far Too Common The disrespect that has been shown the flag of the United States, in the most extreme cases, involves the flag being burned. While this makes an excellent photo opportunity for the media, the other examples of disrespect that the flag has been shown in recent years is far more common and degrading than an outright burning.
Specific examples of this disrespect include the perversion of the flag under the excuse that the flag is being used for artistic purposes and therefore is legitimate as artistic expression, such as the use of the flag as a canvas upon which pornographic scenes are painted, use of the flag as offensive products such as the Old Glory Condoms offered online for sale, and the presentation of destruction of the flag in plays and movies, disguised as an essential part of the plot (Chu, et al, 2003).
All of this is reinforced by powerful organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union that use their clout in courts of law to defend those who come under legal scrutiny because of their flag abusing activities (Arbuckle, 2003). Because there are so many perversely innovative ways to disgrace the American flag, the problem of desecration will not go away by itself; rather, evidence suggests that it will only get worse.
Therefore, ways to protect the flag must exist. III. SATISFACTION STEP: There are Ways to Protect the Flag It would seem that the flag should be protected from those that would casually destroy it for their own benefit. So, how can this be accomplished? First, the implementation of a Constitutional amendment to ban the desecration of the American flag must take place, regardless of the weak excuses that have been offered to legitimize it.
The justification for such an amendment lies in an important distinction between freedom of expression and freedom of conduct. The Constitution provides for the right of the individual to express themselves freely, which gives the impression that one is given the freedom to speak freely, peacefully assemble, challenge the government if they perceive that injustice exists, and the other rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights and elsewhere.
However, there is a limit on conduct, constitutionally speaking. No one is given the right to act out in any way that they’d like. Therefore just as one would not be permitted to assault an individual with whom they disagreed, no one should be allowed to, in essence, assault the flag if they disagree with the government, or for any other purpose (Foerstel 1997). When and only when the Constitution bans the destruction of the flag will we see a total protection of the freedoms that the flag represents.
IV. VISUALIZATION STEP: Without Protection, Democracy Suffers If the flag is not protected, it would seem that it would only be the beginning of a wholesale sacrifice of all of the freedoms that have been provided by our founding fathers, protected with the blood of many of our best and brightest citizens, and laid out in the Constitution. It will only be through an amendment of that very Constitution that the flag is safe.
If the flag is not safe, it is entirely possible that from that point the powerful ACLU and other organizations like it will use their power to make it acceptable for other unacceptable actions to be condoned under the guise of expression of freedom, such as illegal drug use, child abuse, and the like. The awful possibilities are truly endless. Simply put if we do not constitutionally protect the flag, a free-for-all will likely result as the other rules of civil conduct, one by one, are subsequently challenged and defeated. In the end result, only those with the money and power will have their agendas-for better or worse- advanced.
Anarchy and evil will prevail without solid regulations to prevent such occurrences. V. ACTION STEP: Everyone Needs to Get Involved Sadly, the ultimate sacrifices that Americans have made in the name of freedom, from the hills of Lexington and Concord to the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, are likely to continue as long as the American nation exists. However aside from these valiant efforts, everyone who loves democracy and freedom must get involved in the effort to protect the American flag. There are several ways for the common person to personally solve the problem of flag desecration:
First, support for the Constitutional amendment must exist. Citizens should take advantage of their freedom of expression to speak out in support of this effort. The circulation of petitions to gain the support of others will go a long way to appeal to elected officials about the importance of the amendment. Likewise, soliciting these elected officials to speak publically in support of the amendment would be an excellent method. From the sacred point of view, church groups should also gather together regardless of religious affiliation to make a difference (Wall, 1995).
Speaking out and organizing will be the best way to facilitate a flag protection amendment. VI. CONCLUSION: Summing it Up In an age where traditions and symbols are being discarded one by one, the flag must be protected at all costs; if not, the bloodshed in the past will all be in vain. Sadly, as has been discussed, the flag is sacrificed for profit, personal interests and entertainment- basically, the slimmest of reasons. Thus, the call goes out to everyone to be vocal, solicit flag protection from their friends and neighbors as well as elected officials, and never give up.
The America that our children and grandchildren ultimately inherit is the one that we create today. We owe it not only to ourselves but also to generations yet unknown to us to preserve liberty, and justice for all. The task before us is clear- if we protect the flag, the flag will ultimately protect us! Works Cited Arbuckle, M. R. (2003). Vanishing First Amendment Protection for Symbolic Expression 35 Years after United States V. O’Brien. Communications and the Law, 25(2), 1+. Chu, J. , & Couper, D. P. (2003). The Flag and Freedom. Social Education, 67(6), 327+.
Foerstel, H. N. (1997). Free Expression and Censorship in America An Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Goldstein, R. J. (1994, July 18). This Flag Is Not for Burning: Snuffing out Symbolic Speech. The Nation, 259, 84+. Goldstein, R. J. (1995). Saving Old Glory: The History of the American Flag Desecration Controversy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Monroe’s Motivated Sequence. Retrieved November 22, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www. worldofspeech. com/speech1/monroe. html Wall, J. M. (1995, July 19). Flag-Burning Revisited. The Christian Century, 112, 699.
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