While the burning of the American flag is likely viewed by most to be a deplorable act, this very act should be protected by the First Amendment as it is a form of symbolic speech, no matter how disagreeable it may be.

If the United States Supreme Court were to outlaw this particular form of symbolic speech, one cannot help but imagine a slippery slope scenario in which an increasing number of freedoms become limited simply because the majority of the population does not agree or because there is a possibility of violence surrounding the issue. In other words, while most citizens of the United States are morally opposed to the symbolic act of burning of the flag, legislating based on morals rather than reason and the Constitution is a dangerous path to start down.

While certainly violence could erupt in the event of the expression of an unpopular form of First Amendment symbolic speech, if we were to legislate based on the possibility of violence or injury another slippery slope situation would occur as there are plenty of rights we have that might lead to violence or injury. This is merely an invalid reason based on speculation in an attempt to justify the removal of the right to symbolic speech that is granted in First Amendment. In sum, the First Amendment grants some of our most important freedoms and ruling in favor of removing rights seems to go against the very foundation of the ideas that led to the creation of this amendment.

A majority of the problem with creating an exception to the First Amendment for the case of flag burning is surely not that flag burning is a wonderful thing, but is rather more about rights in general. Most people will agree that burning a flag is one of the most deplorable expressions of freedoms granted under the umbrella of symbolic speech in the First Amendment, but again, it is a right that should exist, even if it is not popular. The main idea in this argument is not about whether burning a flag should be allowed based on moral or patriotic reasons but whether it violates the First Amendment. Since the First Amendment protects forms of symbolic speech making flag burning an exception to the rule is setting a bad precedent. By setting a negative precedent it is being suggested here that this exception could lead us down a slippery slope where we keep find an increasing number of rights that are unpopular and this prone to being outlawed even though the language of the Constitution expressly prohibits this.

It appears that the main problem with prohibiting the unpopular and deplorable act of flag burning is that it creates the precedent of taking away rights when the nature of the Amendment was to protect rights instead. More importantly, the logic behind this slippery slope scenario is faulty and based more on speculation and conjecture than sound reason with the Constitution in mind first. By making the claim that allowing flag burning will incite violence one is making a guess at a possible mass-scale and common reaction. While it may be true, this is not enough of a reason to ban an important right (all speech rights, symbolic or not) that has every reason to exist.

In sum, although it is almost universally agreed upon in this country that burning an important symbol of American sacrifice and freedom is shameful and should not be encouraged, taking away a right that is in the very document that the flag symbolizes in terms of freedom is unacceptable. More importantly, if we begin taking away rights in this country, even ones that are unpopular, it sets a bad precedent and leads us down a slippery slope where it takes fewer and less solid reasons to legislate what is morally acceptable instead of following the Constitution.

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