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America the Beautiful. America the Brave. America the free. These common sayings are what bring people to our country. They come looking for freedom and security. Traditionally, our symbol for America has been the flag, with it's bold stars and stripes. Yet this representation of our country has recently been an object of protest against our government. In the case of 1984, Johnson vs. the State of Texas, Johnson proceeded to burn the flag in a protest. On the ruling of disturbing the peace, desecrating the flag, and potentially causing uproar and violence, Johnson was sentenced to jail. His case, through an appeal, went to the Supreme Court where he was granted innocence, as the previous ruling conflicted with the first amendment right of freedom of expression. Is using the symbol of our country's freedom to show resistance against our government a safe protest? Or should it be illegal, as an act of ignorance and immaturity?
Gregory Lee Johnson, a resident of the state of Texas, participated in a political conference concerning the Reagan administration and some Dallas-based corporations (POAAFA 1). In this presentation, Johnson expressed his views on recent happenings by burning the American flag in front of an entire audience. He was arrested, and tried by the state of Texas in 1985. Johnson was here convicted on a physically expressed act, rather than a written one (Cyber 1). The court decided that although Johnson had not caused uproar, his acts had the potential to do so. Johnson had disrupted his responsibility to preserve the integrity of the flag, as was against a law in Texas (Goldstein 29), along with 47 other states, at the time. His sentence was mild, yet his lawyer saw beyond the issue of him being found guilty. Lawyers backing up Johnson made an appeal on May 8, 1985, to the Fifth Texas Supreme Judicial District (Lee 2).
The case was taken along the lines of Texas overriding the first amendment right of freedom of expression/speech. On April 20, 1988, by a vote of 5-4, the Texas court of Appeals declared that the primary decision was...