A Blair County man said he was standing up for this American Indian heritage and expressing his beliefs when he hung an American flag upside down and spray painted it earlier this week…
“I was offended by it…” said Allegheny Township police Assistant Chief L.J. Berg. Berg said he took the flag down and charged Joshua Brubaker with desecration and insults to the American flag. “I removed it from the building, folded it properly and seized it as evidence,” said Berg…
And, of course, Assistant Police Chief Berg, in touch with his deep feelings of offensiveness, “charged Joshua Brubaker with desecration and insults to the American flag.” Because, feelings.
They are clearly unconstitutional following Texas v. Johnson (1989) and United States v. Eichman (1990). Indeed, the law on this is clear enough that the police officers wouldn’t have qualified immunity in any lawsuit that Brubaker might bring against them.
Trigger warning: Exercise of constitutional rights. But Berg’s feelings weren’t of the sort that softies or fragile flowers are concerned about, but rather those manly feelings, the ones that raise blood and guts.
“People have paid high prices for that. People have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Berg said. “People have made too many sacrifices to protect the flag and to [have] this happen in my community, I’m not happy with that.”
And indeed, in a comment to Eugene’s post, this deed evoked similar feelings:
“People have paid high prices for that. People have paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Berg said. “People have made too many sacrifices to protect the flag and to leave this happen in my community, I’m not happy with that.” … from the first war to protect this nation from enemies both foreign and domestic had paid the price in blood and dismemberment. And anyone who desecrates the flag should be removed from the boarders of this nation and this includes all members of congress and the president as well. Former USMC
Who would call a former marine a delicate flower? I guess that would have to be me, which makes me wonder why they’re called “jarheads.” No one, ever, died for a flag. A flag is a symbol, a piece of fabric used to represent ideals, but it is not, in itself, the ideal. A flag may stir patriotic feelings, enough so that some are sufficiently confused that they think they are willing to die for the symbol rather than what the symbol stands for, but it’s still just a piece of fabric.
And even when it’s an assistant police chief, or an ex-marine, or the manliest of manly men, your feelings, your taking offense, is no more important than anyone else’s. It does not form the basis for a crime, for harm or for anything else.
You’re entitled to your feelings. Everyone else is entitled to theirs, and to not give a hoot about yours. But no one, no matter how masculine or feminine, no matter how sensitive or callous, gets to demand that others adhere to behavior that does not offend them.
And having a badge and being fundamentally ignorant of the Constitution doesn’t give you special rights to arrest someone for exercising their constitutional rights.
Now, the question of why Pennsylvania still has crimes on the books that should have been invalidated almost a quarter century ago is another matter. We can dismiss ridiculous macho feelings. Stupid is harder to eradicate.