“If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”
This case explores the legal concept of freedom of speech.
In a political demonstration during the Republican National Convention in Texas, Gregory Lee Johnson doused an American flag with kerosene and set it on fire. He was part of a group protesting the policies of the Reagan Administration and of certain corporations based in Dallas. No one was hurt or threatened with injury, but some witnesses said they were seriously offended. Johnson was charged and convicted with the desecration of a venerated object, in violation of the Texas Penal Code. In a split decision, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that Johnson’s actions were symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.