In the nineteen-eighties, it was hard for many Americans to imagine a more inflammatory or controversial form of expression than to burn or otherwise publicly denigrate the American flag. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized, and clearly established, a constitutional right to do so. Such offensive forms of expression must be protected, the reasoning went, despite the sensibilities of those who cherish America’s flag and consider its denigration pure and shameless effrontery. Otherwise – and this is key – America would cease to exist as the “land of the free.”
Nowadays, we have Yale and Mizzou, twin lands of collegiate repression, where student radicals cry foul over the purported offenses of others while they brazenly brandish an offensiveness of their own. We have Democrat legislators who want to criminalize challenges to the liberal orthodoxy on ‘climate change.’ And we have a President of the United States who refuses to take the threat of ISIS seriously, while he has politicized everything from the IRS to the Justice Department to America’s national security.
If the U.S. Constitution demands tolerance for denigrating America’s flag, or for sacrilege against Jesus Christ, does it not also require tolerance of a cartoonist who would satirize the Prophet of Islam? Can Americans practice such tolerance — free of government intervention or terrorist reprisal?
If Americans lose their freedom to express themselves, then America as we’ve known it will cease to exist, and become just another U.N. member state. At some point, the world would miss us.