A high school English teacher in Chapin, S.C. was teaching his English class a lesson on the 1st Amendment. Scott Compton, took an American flag off the wall and stomped on it repeatedly as part of the lesson. As you can imagine, his actions have prompted outrage leading school district spokesman Mark Bounds to say, “I was in the military 20 years. I will defend your right to burn an American flag in the public square to my death. But as a teacher, you cannot bring your personal biases into the classroom.” People are right to be mad, but they are mad for the wrong reason.
As you probably conclude, there is no doubt that desecrating the flag is protected by the 1st Amendment. Offensive free speech is protected just like any other type of speech. What may shock you is that Mr. Compton should be punished for his Lord of the Dance exhibition on the American Flag.
WHAT? you might ask. Has LibertyInfusion gone off the deep end wanting to sanction the stomping of the American flag. Have the Republicans hijacked the site and taken away all of the liberty loving goodness in all previous posts? Nope. The teacher should be sanctioned and punished for a completely different reason: it wasn’t his flag on which to RiverDance.
You are free to destroy YOUR property, to burn YOUR flag, to desecrate the flag, or any other property for that matter, as long as it’s yours. If you own it and it does not hurt anybody else or harm their property you are free to do with it what you want. However, once you use property owned by someone else you are no longer exercising free speech, but are involved in criminal activity. Quite simply, you cannot use the property of another to exercise your 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Mr. Compton took the flag off the wall. It appears from every news account that the flag belonged to the school district and not to Mr. Compton. As soon as he took the flag to stomp on it, he was destroying the property of another. This is not allowed by the 1st Amendment, or any other amendment. It is not allowed by any law, or any moral or ethical rule. Quite simply, Mr. Compton is a criminal; not for stomping on the flag, but for stomping on an American flag that wasn’t his. He should be punished accordingly for his lack of respect for harming the property of another.
Mr. Compton, stomping the flag you bought with your money or made with your property is your right under the 1st Amendment; stomping a flag owned by someone else, without their permission, is not. You, sir, are a criminal.