Flag Burning, Free Speech and Individual Liberty

05 Dec

The Record’s editorial (Dec. 4), “In America, Burning the Flag Is Free Speech,” is spot-on. The editorial states that, “the American flag represents the nation built on individual liberty and freedom of expression. But that principle would be threatened if lawmakers seek to prohibit speech just because the majority may find it objectionable.” (emphasis added)

However, in America individual liberty has been under attack since the early days of the Republic.  Taxation, military conscription, minimum and maximum price controls, and other forms of intervention denying people their individual liberties are just a few of the examples of how the federal government has not lived up to its promise to make America the land of the free.

The most egregious example of denying the American people their individual liberty and freedom of expression can be found in the antidiscrimination laws. The right to associate or not to associate with another individual is a fundamental human right. As the Record’s editorial states “Freedom is not always pretty. Sometimes, it’s downright messy. Occasionally it may disgust us. It may even feel unpatriotic at times.”

Refusing to engage in commerce with people of a certain ethnic, religious, racial or sexual orientation can be “messy”, “disgusting” and not pretty, but it should not be illegal, just as flag burning should not be and is not illegal.

In future editorials the Record should apply the same logic in supporting flag burning to call for the end of all anti-discrimination laws. I for one am not holding my breath for the Record’s editorial page to support individual liberty, free expression and the right of association across the board.



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