On July 4, a day on which we’re supposed to celebrate our freedoms, Bryton Mellott of Urbana, Illinois spent the morning in jail because he had desecrated an American flag and posted the image on Facebook:
Along with the image, Mellott posted this:
I am not proud to be an American. In this moment, being proud of my country is to ignore the atrocities committed against people of color, people living in poverty, people who identify as women, and against my own queer community on a daily basis…
It doesn’t matter, of course, whether or not you agree with him. The flag is a symbol and desecrating it is perfectly legal. In 1989, the Supreme Court even banned any statutes that punished people for doing it. (Interesting trivia: Justice Antonin Scalia was in the 5-4 majority defending free speech. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was on the other side.)
Mellott was charged with flag desecration, which is still a punishable offense under Illinois law, but it’s a law that ought to be unenforceable.
I hope this guy gets in touch with the ACLU because he has a case worth fighting. Unpopular speech is still free speech — and that includes burning a flag on Independence Day.
(via Forbes. Thanks to Seth for the link)