Mark and Debra Kuhn of Asheville, North Carolina were flying a flag upside down on their own property with signs pinned to it explaining why it was being flown in that manner: being upside down represents a sign of distress.
A picture of George W. Bush was also pinned to the flag with the text “Out Now” printed underneath. The Kuhns apparently desecrated the flag by pinning signs to it, not by flying it upside down.
The Kuhns were arrested and charged with assault on a government employee, obstruction and flag desecration.
According to the Sheriff’s office, deputy Scarborough informed the couple that they were illegally displaying the flag and attempted to issue Mr. Kuhn with a citation. Kuhn allegedly refused to show I.D. and slammed the door on Scarborough’s hand causing a glass pane to break, which cut the deputy’s hand.
The Kuhns have a different story to tell. They claim that they shut and locked the door and that Scarborough intentionally broke the glass with his fist in order to reach in and unlock the door. He then proceeded to enter their home, without a warrant or permission, and placed them under arrest.
Flag desecration is protected under the First Amendment of the constitution as free speech; a fact that is supported by two U.S. Supreme Court cases. Any law prohibiting it is blatantly unconstitutional.
Mark Radford, the National Guardsman who issued the complaint about the flag, does not seem to care about the Supreme Court or the constitution he swore to uphold.
“The law is the law, and if we don’t follow the rule of the law as a society, where does it go from here?” he asked.
Ever heard of civil disobedience Mr. Radford? A principle employed by Samuel Adams and many others in the founding of our country. A principle exploited by Martin Luther King Jr. in his quest for civil rights. Have you learned about the Boston Tea Party? How about the Revolutionary War? Does any of this mean anything to you?
When there are bad laws, they need to be broken and any law — whether considered constitutional or not — that restricts free speech is a bad law. Civil Disobedience and Jury Nullification are the last strings for citizens to grab at if they wish to change the laws that oppress them. That is, after all, how the prohibition of alcohol was essentially ended.
I would like to personally thank the Kuhns for standing up for their rights and subsequently the rights of every citizen of this country. If we loose the right to free speech, unpopular being the hardest to protect, then we really have no rights at all. Expression is the most essential human freedom.