During a conversation about the latest faux-controversy involving Colin Kaepernick and an image of the old American flag, FOX News host Julie Banderas said on the show Outnumbered that it was “a crime to burn the American flag.”
(It isn’t a crime.)
Banderas and a panel on Outnumbered Friday were discussing Nike’s decision to pull a shoe featuring a flag designed by Betsy Ross amid a complaint from Colin Kaepernick.
“It is very important to honor it. There was a video of somebody who stopped [a burning of the flag at a] protest yesterday with his hands. It means a lot to a lot of people,” guest panelist Carley Shimkus said.
“Two people were arrested after that. It’s a crime to burn the American flag. That’s how much we respect our American flag,” Banderas said. She was not challenged on this incorrect statement by any of the other panelists.
It’s amazing how the people who claim to love the Constitution so damn much can’t seem to wrap their head around the First Amendment. Symbols of patriotism are not synonyms for patriotism.
It shouldn’t matter if you’re kneeling during the National Anthem, staying seated during the Pledge of Allegiance, or burning an American flag in protest. Part of being a patriot and loving the country means criticizing it in the hopes that it can get closer to achieving its ideals. Banning people from desecrating the flag is no different than forcing people to say they love the country — if you can’t handle criticism to the point where you forbid any, the love doesn’t really count.
And those are just the ethical problems with the amendment. Legally, the Supreme Court already said in 1989 that desecrating the flag was a legal exercise of free speech. Last month, the city of Cleveland paid a man $225,000 to settle a case after officers wrongfully retaliated against him for burning a flag in protest in 2016. The same man was the defendant in the 1989 Supreme Court case.
Incidentally, someone must have told Banderas she was wrong. According to Mediaite, when she was filling in for anchor Shepard Smith later in the day, Banderas told the audience, “it’s not technically illegal to burn a flag due to free speech and the Constitution.”
She didn’t need the word “technically” in there. But that’s as close to an apology as you’ll even see from a FOX host.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)