VOA慢速英语 - 焚烧美国国旗合法吗?


The United States constitution guarantees a number of rights to U.S. citizens. One of the most famous is the right to free speech.

But what if people say or do horrible things?

The Supreme Court struggled with this idea in 1989. The case related to a man named Gregory Lee Johnson. A few years earlier, he strongly objected to the policies of then-President Ronald Reagan. So, at a political meeting in Texas, Johnson burned the American flag.
美国最高法院在1989年对此看法进行过辩论。这起案件涉及了一位名为格雷戈里·李·约翰逊(Gregory Lee Johnson)的男子。在那之前几年,他强烈反对时任总统里根的政策。因此,在德克萨斯州的一次政治会议上,约翰逊焚烧了美国国旗。

Police arrested him.

Johnson appealed, saying that burning the flag was his way of expressing his political beliefs – exactly the kind of speech the writers of the U.S. Constitution aimed to protect.

Opponents disagreed. They pointed out that the American flag was special, and they did not think burning it was "speech." They warned that such an act could move people to violence.

But a majority of the Court's justices agreed with Johnson. They said even if the public strongly dislikes an idea, people still have a right to express it.

One final note: Supreme Court cases have not protected all speech. Other cases have limited people's right to communicate ideas that are knowingly false, morally offensive, stolen or threatening. But for now – unless the public approves Constitutional amendment – burning the American flag is legal.