Trump Shows He's a Bully With a Pulpit

Trump Shows He's a Bully With a Pulpit

A tweet by Don­ald Trump earli­er this week caused eye-rolling among people with an even curs­ory know­ledge of con­sti­tu­tion­al law. “Nobody should be al­lowed to burn the Amer­ic­an flag—if they do, there must be con­sequences—per­haps loss of cit­izen­ship or year in jail,” Trump pro­nounced. Burn­ing the flag is pretty despic­able, but it’s a form of pro­tec­ted free speech, which was made clear by Su­preme Court de­cisions in 1989 and 1990. Even uber con­ser­vat­ive Justice Ant­on­in Scalia con­curred. But the tsk-tsk­ing among elites amoun­ted to an­oth­er ex­ample of the phe­nomen­on that Salena Zito ob­served in The At­lantic back in Septem­ber: “The press takes him [Trump] lit­er­ally, but not ser­i­ously, his sup­port­ers take him ser­i­ously, but not lit­er­ally.” He says things for ef­fect, such as “there ought to be a law” or “it ticks me off when people do this.” The simple fact is that there are a lot more Amer­ic­ans who agree with Trump that people shouldn’t be burn­ing flags than there are people who are pars­ing Su­preme Court de­cisions.

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