Trump supporter and conservative activist Candace Owens has made the concept of free speech and the 1st Amendment the centerpiece of her movement, but after a tweet she fired off this Sunday, some are wondering if she even understands how free speech works.
“If I were President, the punishment for burning the U.S flag would be the renunciation of citizenship,” Owens tweeted. “No jail time, no fine— simply one year to liquidate your assets and get the hell out of our country.”
“In exchange, we’d extend citizenship to a hardworking LEGAL immigrant,” she added.
If I were President, the punishment for burning the U.S flag would be the renunciation of citizenship.
No jail time, no fine— simply one year to liquidate your assets and get the hell out of our country.
In exchange, we’d extend citizenship to a hardworking LEGAL immigrant.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 16, 2019
It was a puzzling sentiment, especially for someone who’s consistently lamented the deplatforming of conservative voices on college campuses and social media. Yet here was Owens declaring that an act of protest should be punished by the government in the form of stripping one’s citizenship.
Unsurprisingly, the comment thread that opened up beneath the tweet was full of people pointing out the hypocrisy and ignorance of her proposal, one of whom was former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti.
“That would violate the United States Constitution, so it’s a good thing you’re not President,” he wrote.
Owens replied, and doubled down.
[The 1st Amendment] has limitations,” Owen wrote. “You can’t yell fire in a movie theatre without consequence. You cannot yell racial epithets at someone without consequence. And if I were President, you sure as hell wouldn’t burn a flag without consequence.”
1A has limitations. You can’t yell fire in a movie theatre without consequence. You cannot yell racial epithets at someone without consequence. And if I were President, you sure as hell wouldn’t burn a flag without consequence.
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) June 16, 2019
Again, Owens’ logic is baffling. Regardless of one’s feelings about burning the flag, it doesn’t rise to the level of intentionally causing panic or abusing someone with racist language.
According to ABC political analyst Matthew Dowd, Owens is just another example of people “who care more about the flag than our country, who care more about a symbol of our democracy, rather than the principles and ideals of our republic, who want to push division, as opposed to unity which the flag stands for.”
There was no shortage of people piling on.
Remember, these are the same people who think getting banned from social media sites for abusive behavior constitutes a violation of free speech rights. https://t.co/fW0NXiL0ih
— Name cannot be blank (@keder) June 16, 2019
Fascist say what? https://t.co/ggcCP7MLJ5
— Ken Shepherd (@KenShepherd) June 16, 2019
I’m pretty sure that’s unconstitutional and tyrannical. Neither are conservative values.
— Ross Kecseg (@rkecseg84) June 16, 2019
Probably the most anti-America post of the day! But not unlike the “America, Love it or Leave it” response to anyone who opposed the war in Vietnam
— Jeff Lambert (@LawyerLambert) June 16, 2019
I’m a big fan of yours and agree with u on almost everything u stand for. Not this. I will fight for people’s rights regardless of how disgusting a manner they chose to excercise them.
— jim iuorio (@jimiuorio) June 16, 2019
Don’t you feel proud to have the RIGHT to say that?
— Corey Stern (@cms1000) June 16, 2019
White House cabinet position?
— Meelon Husk (@jooooooohn) June 16, 2019
"If *I* were President, I'd try to get civics course to cover what the president can and can't do…"
— Dov OOOOOooooo (@drnelk) June 16, 2019
Not even a month and a half ago, Owens was praising free speech rights and open debate.
“We think that if you have terrible ideas, we want to hand you a megaphone,” Owens told a crowd at Montana State University in Bozeman. “If your idea isn’t good, we can defeat it with our better ideas. We believe in debate. You can see you’re welcome here, and you’re never gonna have people shout you down. But unfortunately, we don’t get the same treatment on the other side.”
Owens’ tweet comes one day after President Trump tweeted support for a new effort to ban burning the flag, put forth by Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) who proposed a bill to restore “Congress’s constitutional authority to ban the desecration of the United States flag.”
“All in for Senator Steve Daines as he proposes an Amendment for a strong BAN on burning our American Flag,” Trump tweeted Saturday. “A no brainer!”
Up until the 1989 Texas v. Johnson Supreme Court decision that ruled the act was protected under the First Amendment’s freedom of speech clause, 48 states had laws prohibiting burning the US flag.
Featured image via screen grab/Fox News