Flag Burning Debate

History and Debate of Flag Burning

Flag desecration, also known as flag abuse, is defined as any act that is carried out with the intention of damaging or destroying a flag in public. This is commonly done in an effort to make a political statement against a nation or its policies. Some nations have acts that ban flag desecration while others have laws that protect the right to destroy a flag as a part of free speech. Some of these laws distinguish between a national flag and those of other countries.

There are many methods of flag desecration. Flag burning is very common, but flags can also be spat upon, walked over, shot with guns or dragged through mud. Sometimes, flags may simply be used in unconventional manners. They may be hung upside down or sideways. Some groups have even made toilet paper and napkins that bear images of flags. These are then soiled with use and tossed aside.

People may choose to desecrate a flag for many reasons. Many times, this is done in protest to a certain government polity or to distance oneself from the domestic policies of one's home nation. It may also be a protest against nationalism or the government's presence in another country. Flag desecration may also be performed in other nations as an insult to the citizens of the nation whose flag is being burned.

Flag Desecration Legality

Flag desecration is legal in Australia, and there have been several noted instances in the last decade. One socialist group called Resistance even markets a flag burning kit. Belgium and Canada also allow for flag burning and desecration. In 1990, the flag of Quebec was desecrated by protestors in Brockville, Ontario. Numerous people walked over the flag and the event was even televised.

In many other nations, there are laws in place to protect the flag from desecration. In Denmark, for example, it is illegal to desecrate the flags and national symbols of all foreign nations. However, it is legal to burn the national flag of Denmark. This is a unique law, but protects the people of Denmark from threats that result when they burn the flags of other nations.

French law made it illegal to burn or desecrate the national flag with a bill that was passed in 2010. Several people have already been fined for the crime, which is illegal even in a private setting. Germany has even harsher laws when it comes to flag desecration. Damaging the flag of Germany or that of any German state is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. Hong Kong has similar laws and cites that flag burning it illegal because there are many other ways of protesting.

Flag desecration, though considered an insult to the government, is not illegal in the United States. The flag is often burnt in the United States as a protest of government policy, both domestic and abroad. This was particularly common during the Vietnam War and the start of the War on Terror. The United States Constitution makes it illegal to outlaw the burning of any flag and protects this act as a freedom of speech.

Flag desecration is seen as an insult to the government and its policies. Whether or not the practice should be legal remains a source of great debate and hinges on whether or not flag burning is protected under the call for freedom of speech.

For Flag Burning

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Against Flag Burning

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