The Smoke Signal

First Amendment: Confederate Flag Fight

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The United States of America is a democracy and has been since the colonists won their independence from Great Britain. The Founding Fathers believed in a nation founded upon the basic principles and guaranteed rights of the first amendment: the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. How far do these rights go?

In Stafford County, there has been much debate on the matter of the Confederate flag that flies above I-95. Several board meetings have been held to discuss this issue and the people of Stafford County have expressed their opinions on the presence of the flag.

The flag flies on private property, which falls under the property owner’s first amendment right to fly the flag. It is the owner’s right to display the flag; the right to free speech is written in the Constitution.

In 1989, the Supreme Court case Texas v. Johnson explored the idea of free speech. Gregory Johnson was participating in a political demonstration in which he burned the American flag. The court ruled that it was within his first amendment right of free speech to burn the American flag.

The right to free speech is not limited to spoken or written word. Throughout the course of history, Americans have possessed a greater right to speak their minds as long as it causes no immediate harm to another citizen.

Confederate statues are another aspect of American life, as there are many scattered throughout historical Virginia. Many condemn these statues as racist and un-American, while others argue its historical relevance to America.

In July, the Ku Klux Klan demonstrated in Charlottesville to protest the planned removal of a Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, statue. However, many supported the removal of this statue, along with other Confederate monuments, as they represented the disunion of the nation.

The white supremacist march in Charlottesville demonstrates Americans’ right to assemble. The peaceful rally turned violent

America is a nation of the free and if one protected right is abridged, the democracy of the United States has ended. The laws set in place are present to protect all citizens. The law cannot be broken to appease one citizen, or even a group of citizens, by violating the rights of another.

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