A few years ago, I was the one spouting about Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment; about how someone’s opinion was someone’s opinion, and how they had a right to express it, even if it offended someone else. I was convinced that right was guaranteed by the First Amendment in the US Bill of Rights, part of our Constitution.
Then I had an epiphany.
Congress shall make no law respecting… Congress shall make no law… Congress shall make… Congress shall… Congress…
Congress = US Senate and US House of Representative = Federal Government
“The Federal Government shall make no law respecting…”
Your right to “Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble and to petition the Government” is protected from Federal Government infringement of those rights.
Your Religion, Speech, Press or the right of the People Peaceably to Assemble and to Petition the Government is not protected on the individual level and if you say or do something that offends someone else, libels or slanders them, you can still be held liable for your actions. You are no longer under the First Amendment protection because the Federal Government did not infringe upon your rights.
So… It seems this whole conniption fit is about the so called “Confederate Flag,” and the right to offend others by flying it. Let’s first explore the history of that flag to see why it might possibly be a symbol offensive to many.
How many people are aware that this flag is not the Flag of the Confederacy? The flag flying over the South Carolina State House is known as the Confederate BATTLE flag, but is not the original BATTLE flag which was Robert E. Lee’s BATTLE flag of Northern Virginia. This flag never represented Southern heritage, or Southern pride, or anything else but being the BATTLE Flag of an army fighting for the right to own slaves. The BATTLE flag was square, with the same colors as the union flag, the same red, the same white and the same blue. The flag now being called the Confederate BATTLE flag was designed in the 1960’s by those that believed in segregation.
By 1863, Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia’s square BATTLE Flag was so popular among the Confederacy that it was incorporated into the upper left corner of the new flag of the confederacy. The white rectangle symbolizes the “supremacy of the white man,” according to William T. Thompson, the flag’s designer. “As a people we are fighting to maintain the Heaven-ordained supremacy of the white man over the inferior or colored race,” Thompson wrote. The second flag faced criticism for being too white, with complaints that it could be mistaken for a truce sign in battle. No criticism was ever made that it represented “White Supremacy.”
The Confederate BATTLE Flag design changed over the years, and this is the final representation of the “Flag” that was flown by the Ku Klux Klan, George Wallace when protesting desegregation, and Strom Thurmond. The BATTLE Flag became the symbol of segregation.