Should you have the right to fly an ISIS flag?

posted at 6:41 pm on August 13, 2014 by Noah Rothman

Sadly, it’s not a hypothetical question.

“Police in Garwood, New Jersey, ordered that a militant flag associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) be removed from the font of a local home after hundreds of online activists expressed fear and revulsion,” the Washington Free Beacon reported on Wednesday.

Garwood Police Chief Bruce D. Underhill confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon that officers had been contacted and residents at the suburban home “voluntarily” agreed to remove the flag.

Following the initial picture of the home, which clearly displayed the ISIL and Turkish flags on its front porch, Twitter users posted an updated photo that appeared to confirm that the black militant flag had been removed.

One local resident tweeted this picture along with the address of the home in question.

ISIS home

So, does this episode constitute a violation of these suburban homeowners’ First Amendment right to free expression? That is not an easy question to answer.

There are, of course, restrictions on speech and expression. Many are well-known, like the oft-cited cry of fire in a crowded theater which implies the intent to cause harm by inciting undue panic. There are also restrictions on speech which pertain to the incitement of violence.

“Freedoms of speech and the press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action,” read the majority opinion in Brandenburg v. Ohio.

With Islamic State forces ravaging the Middle East, and that fundamentalist group’s leadership threatening to raise this exact flag over the White House and warning Americans that they shall “see you in New York,” it is certainly true that ISIS wants to present itself as a threat to the United States. But is flying the black Islamist flag a direct incitement to violence? The burden of proof on anyone leveling that accusation is a heavy one.

While debating this matter on Twitter, one user suggested that the decision to fly this flag was clearly designed to intimidate the neighboring residents. In the same way that the Supreme Court found in Virginia v. Black that cross burning was not protected speech and represented prima facie evidence of a desire to intimidate others, flying this flag could be indicative of a similar intent.

The majority also found that a Virginia law prohibiting cross burning was unconstitutional, but that activity’s “long and pernicious history as a signal of impending violence” meant that it could be construed as a threat and is, thus, unprotected expression.

Does flying the ISIS flag “signal impending violence?” Maybe. Is there a “long and pernicious history” that leads anyone to reasonably believe that flag suggests violence is imminent? Certainly not.

Those who suggest that the neighbors were right in this case to complain about the flying of this flag have a lot to prove, but how about the rights of those who flew this offensive flag. Did police harass or intimidate these homeowners when they were politely asked to take the flag down? That, too, would be difficult to prove.

For the most part, this episode resolved itself in a welcome fashion. The police politely contacted these ISIS flag owners on behalf of their concerned neighbors, requested the flag be taken down, and the homeowners complied voluntarily. While the homeowners in this case have the constitutional right to resist that request, they were smart to accommodate the police.

This is not to say that those individuals declaring their allegiance to an organization bent on executing terror attacks inside the United States should not be monitored by domestic counterterror officials. That is another matter entirely.


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Depends on the ISIS flag constitutes a threat. if you posted a flag which simply said “I am going to murder you all in your sleep”… that probably would not be legal. If you posted a flag that said “I will crucify your children” that would probably not be legal.

The problem with the ISIS flag is not the politics so much as the inherent threat of violence. ISIS is doing some really nasty things to civilians in Iraq. Claiming affiliation with them could be taken as a threat to your neighbors that you’re going to do the same to them. That is probably not legal.

Now posting a US flag in the United States does not have a violent connotation. The same can be said for most flags. If you put up a Nazi flag or possibly even confederate flag that might convey some menace and I could understand either of those being forced down.

I’d say have it taken down and fine the fool that put it up. Then watch him because he’s likely crazy.

Karmashock on August 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

This is the same as flying the Nazi flag in 1944. Did we allow people here to do that? Islamists are the same as the nazis…well, just not as smart, but equally immoral

georgealbert on August 13, 2014 at 9:06 PM

We were at war with Nazi Germany. We aren’t at war with ISIS. Such a thing isn’t even possible since ISIS isn’t a state. It’s a local terrorist group that might some day control a state.

Once again…the term “war” has specific meaning, please stop torturing it.

Tlaloc on August 13, 2014 at 9:51 PM

The ISIS considers itself at war with us, the only reason they have yet to commit a act of war against us is Geographical.

I for one don’t want to see some idiot ISIS wannabe kill a bunch of Americans, and anyone flying this flag should be viewed with intense suspicion from everybody else, its only a matter of time until this particular person lashes out at his American neighbors and someone dies.

The Barbary States weren’t really countries either but we clearly went to war against them ( without a formal declaration sure, but it was certainly still war)

MWC_RS on August 13, 2014 at 10:05 PM

Depends on the ISIS flag constitutes a threat. if you posted a flag which simply said “I am going to murder you all in your sleep”… that probably would not be legal. If you posted a flag that said “I will crucify your children” that would probably not be legal.

The problem with the ISIS flag is not the politics so much as the inherent threat of violence. ISIS is doing some really nasty things to civilians in Iraq. Claiming affiliation with them could be taken as a threat to your neighbors that you’re going to do the same to them. That is probably not legal.

Now posting a US flag in the United States does not have a violent connotation. The same can be said for most flags. If you put up a Nazi flag or possibly even confederate flag that might convey some menace and I could understand either of those being forced down.

I’d say have it taken down and fine the fool that put it up. Then watch him because he’s likely crazy.

Karmashock on August 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

I honestly don’t care if our government has the balls to take this flag down, if they don’t his neighbors should gather up a posse and take it down themselves, and make it very clear to him that if he trys to enact his violent fantasies he will be met with a firm resolve.

MWC_RS on August 13, 2014 at 10:07 PM

Got no problem with them flying the enemy flag. Makes it easier to sight in the rifle from a distance. / sarc

mechkiller_k on August 13, 2014 at 10:10 PM

If the First Amendment doesn’t protect his right to fly that flag, then it doesn’t protect freedom of expression for the rest of us.

The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect our right to sing “Happy Birthday” and chat about the weather.

Bruce MacMahon on August 13, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Should the police have the authority to take my “Come and Take It” bumper sticker, on the grounds that it might be inciting violence, according to some?

We could be setting a very dangerous precedent here.

Bruce MacMahon on August 13, 2014 at 10:44 PM

Let them fly their flag but if for some mysterious reason they disappear… I didn’t see a thing.

iceman1960 on August 13, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Did we let the Nazis set up bases and fly their flag in the U.S. during the war?

iceman1960 on August 13, 2014 at 10:50 PM

There are time when flag-burning is appropriate.

novaculus on August 13, 2014 at 11:06 PM

oops…”times”…

novaculus on August 13, 2014 at 11:06 PM

I think that they should have the right to fly that flag, and someone else should have the right to toss a molotov cocktail through their bedroom window at 2 am.

Tom Servo on August 13, 2014 at 11:27 PM

Flying this flag is protected by 1st Amendment. My own rights are protected by Smith & Wesson, with prosecutorial backup by the local police.

There are time when flag-burning is appropriate.

novaculus on August 13, 2014 at 11:06 PM

Can’t wait to see the mainstream media pee their panties the first time someone burns the gay “rainbow” flag. Flag burning all-of-a-sudden won’t be no protected speech no more, eh?

DublOh7 on August 13, 2014 at 11:35 PM

So, does this episode constitute a violation of these suburban homeowners’ First Amendment right to free expression? That is not an easy question to answer.

It’s a very easy question to answer. Yes, it obviously does.

You either have free speech or you don’t. There is no middle ground.

triple on August 13, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Can’t wait to see the mainstream media pee their panties the first time someone burns the gay “rainbow” flag. Flag burning all-of-a-sudden won’t be no protected speech no more, eh?

DublOh7 on August 13, 2014 at 11:35 PM

If you think it would be the “first time”, you haven’t been paying attention.

triple on August 13, 2014 at 11:47 PM

I’d say let the flag keep flying. It’s a visible reminder that the danger is closer to home than our liberal friends would care to admit.

unclesmrgol on August 14, 2014 at 1:02 AM

Fly it, but name and shame the one flying it.

Make it socially unacceptable to do so.

nobar on August 14, 2014 at 1:38 AM

Advertising your allegiance with a terrorist cult of mass murders is a good thing.

The police now know who to keep their eyes on as declared terrorism supporters.

And any sane American should tear down, tear up and piss on such a flag.

As a resistance gesture against uppity lunatics who support terrorism.

profitsbeard on August 14, 2014 at 3:57 AM

It’s a very easy question to answer. Yes, it obviously does.

You either have free speech or you don’t. There is no middle ground.

triple on August 13, 2014 at 11:46 PM

Free speech didn’t seem to cover a CEO of ChickFilA supporting a political issue in your book as I recall. And here’s the bottom line my liberal countryman. There is a limit to free speech. It stops at lies, liable, harassment etc. You do not have the right to do/say anything you want based on your perverted view of what the founders meant on expressing political opinion without retribution from the state.

And let’s also be frank. Liberals are the biggest hypocrites when it come to free speech and though.

hawkdriver on August 14, 2014 at 6:33 AM

He should be allowed to fly that flag if others are allowed to treat him as the enemy.

Ditto for those illegals who march in our streets under foreign flags.

WannabeAnglican on August 14, 2014 at 8:09 AM

If I see one I’m arming myself and removing it.

Sefton on August 14, 2014 at 8:15 AM

Depends on the ISIS flag constitutes a threat. if you posted a flag which simply said “I am going to murder you all in your sleep”… that probably would not be legal. If you posted a flag that said “I will crucify your children” that would probably not be legal.

The problem with the ISIS flag is not the politics so much as the inherent threat of violence. ISIS is doing some really nasty things to civilians in Iraq. Claiming affiliation with them could be taken as a threat to your neighbors that you’re going to do the same to them. That is probably not legal.

Now posting a US flag in the United States does not have a violent connotation. The same can be said for most flags. If you put up a Nazi flag or possibly even confederate flag that might convey some menace and I could understand either of those being forced down.

I’d say have it taken down and fine the fool that put it up. Then watch him because he’s likely crazy.evil.

Karmashock on August 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

If he can be treated as a terrorist and enemy combatant, let him fly the flag-assume it’s an act of war/terrorism, if it gets him killed, well, then, another terrorist bites the dust.

Hopefully all household occupants are now on an active watch list, as the chance of their performing an illegal act of aggression is probably about 1000x higher than anyone else in the neighborhood.

talkingpoints on August 14, 2014 at 8:17 AM

profitsbeard on August 14, 2014 at 3:57 AM

Yep. I’d encourage the supporters of ISIS to get the flag tattooed on their foreheads.

MajorKong on August 14, 2014 at 8:24 AM

My emotional reaction is NO, H*LL NO.

A calmer reaction is I suppose they do. However if one of their neighbors sets fire to their house, bombs their car and shoves that flag up or down some opening on the homeowner, don’t call for help from the police of the country they appear to disdain.

katiejane on August 14, 2014 at 8:27 AM

Is there a “long and pernicious history” that leads anyone to reasonably believe that flag suggests violence is imminent? Certainly not.

Just missed the cut-off
Which just so happens to be
Fourteen Hundred Years…

Haiku Guy on August 14, 2014 at 8:29 AM

Not everything requires a constitutionally-based, government response. Sometimes informal justice is clearly called for, and appropriate. Acceptable behavior is a subset of constitutional behavior.

Immolate on August 14, 2014 at 8:29 AM

The problem with the ISIS flag is not the politics so much as the inherent threat of violence. ISIS is doing some really nasty things to civilians in Iraq. Claiming affiliation with them could be taken as a threat to your neighbors that you’re going to do the same to them. That is probably not legal.

Now posting a US flag in the United States does not have a violent connotation. The same can be said for most flags. If you put up a Nazi flag or possibly even confederate flag that might convey some menace and I could understand either of those being forced down.
I’d say have it taken down and fine the fool that put it up. Then watch him because he’s likely crazy.

Karmashock on August 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

Flying a flag, or some making some other symbolic gesture of solidarity with an organization, cannot, absent other evidence, be taken as an indication of willingness or intent to mimic that organization’s actions.
If there were a violent gang of criminals in this country that had been using the flag to incite and/or threaten immediate, targeted violence (e.g., an anti-hobo movement flies the flag the night before every hobo massacre, as a signal to non-hobos that it’s time to strike, and/or as a warning that “any hobos found in the area by the end of the week will be slaughtered”), then that would be one thing. But banning a flag on the grounds that it is flown by a bunch of violent savages is a very bad idea.

Do you really want to set the precedent that expression of solidarity with an organization can be criminalized based solely on the actions of said organization? How long do you think it would take for the same ban to be enacted against Israel, based on civilian (and “civilian”) casualties in Gaza? Or the Gadsden flag, because Tea Party Extremism.

Domestic law enforcement has no business declaring which flags can and cannot be flown simply because the organization represented is, or is purported to be, violent.
The idea that a confederate flag, or even a nazi flag for that matter, represents an actionable threat is just not supportable.

The solution to someone expressing ideological solidarity with sadistic thugs is to mock and shame them, and expose those who sympathize them for ridicule as well. But when it comes to law enforcement, there really needs to be a specific, credible threat, or otherwise, the government will simply crack down on anyone who supports someone out of favor.

And if you anyone doesn’t believe me, just look at the story the other day of government of Britain cracking down on exports to Israel. Mark my words, if a legal precedent is created that allows criminalization of expressions of solidarity with a group based solely on that group’s violent actions, then that precedent will very shortly be turned against groups supported by the right, including ones that are either not violent at all (tea party), or exercising violence as a matter of military necessity (Israel).

Libfreeordie will be leading the charge.

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 8:40 AM

Personally I think you’re better off knowing that your neighbor sympathizes with a genocidal terrorist group than not knowing. I’d rather the sympathizers operate in the open and not in secret. I would have said, “Let this dummy fly his flag, as long as the rest of us get to fly the U.S. flag in response.”

Aitch748 on August 14, 2014 at 8:54 AM

My emotional reaction is NO, H*LL NO.
A calmer reaction is I suppose they do. However if one of their neighbors sets fire to their house, bombs their car and shoves that flag up or down some opening on the homeowner, don’t call for help from the police of the country they appear to disdain.

katiejane on August 14, 2014 at 8:27 AM

I would argue that even this is taking it too far. If responding to vandalism, car bombings, and other acts of violence becomes “optional” for the police when the victim advocates evil ideals, then you will very shortly see politicians hiring police commissioners willing to turn a blind eye to violence against, say, anyone who opposes public sector unions. There are likely a number who do this already (see Wisconsin a few years back), but if you encourage the attitude with arguments like this, it becomes easier for political types to justify selective enforcement.

This is why first amendment rights really need to be upheld, and vigorously , in a content-blind way; every instance of a vicious b*stard being denied the right to spout his filth, free of violent coercion by the state or the public at large, is an open invitation for people on the left to say “look, freedom of speech isn’t absolute, even ideologically: some ideas are too dangerous/repugnant for civilized people to tolerate”.

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 8:57 AM

For RINO in name only, I would agree for groups that are only philosophical, but differ for groups that we are at war with (either officially or civilisationally)

In your example of the Jews in Great Britain, they are not at war with the UK govm’t. They are not advocating the overthrow of that govm’t, Jews in the UK are not plotting daily to kill citizens and representatives of that country.

The same is NOT true of ISIS. It is pointless to hide behind the fig leaf of “declared war”, since for the last 70 years of our history we in America have de-facto written that requirement out of our law for even official military reaction. ISIS advocates not just the violent overthrow of our government, but the murder of any American Citizens (along with just about everybody else) who annoys them. Flying an ISIS flag today is the same thing as flying a Nazi flag, or an Imperial Japanese flag in 1943. If you’re not sure, anyone who did that would have been severely beaten, and then jailed, and then beaten again, for doing that.

And there IS a valid governmental interest in doing this, and wartime is one of the times that traditional constitutional freedoms run into their limitations. And it HAS to be so. because war is always a life or death struggle. If the government does NOT publicly enforce what a vast cross section of the population thinks is correct, then that government will lose support and percieved “justice” will begin to be administered privately, instead of publicly. This is why weak governments quickly become lawless, and slide into the “war of all against all”.

If the general population doesn’t trust their government to enforce the laws and norms they see fit, things like molotov cocktails through windows become a lot more common, as does the willingness of police to look the other way. (Since as often as not it will be their friends and family members who may be guilty)

When we are at war, it is a governments responsibility to prosecute our sworn enemies to the fullest extent possible. Someone who flies an ISIS flag has sworn themselves to the destruction for all I value, in the most brutal and violent terms. I,for one, and many like me, are not going to just sit by and say “well, that’s okay, go ahead.” Something is going to happen to them. I will be very happy to allow my government to be the one to do that, and I will support them in that. And as long as they do, there will be no need for me and those like me to take any actions of our own.

On the other hand, if my government abdicates the job of dealing with those who have sworn to murder and destroy all I hold dear… then other arrangements will be made.

Tom Servo on August 14, 2014 at 9:00 AM

You guys have to be kidding. It’s a flag. A symbol. A pamphlet. A statement. It’s not a mortar or a suicide vest or even a rally. It’s an ahole. Stop advocating murder, arson and assault against one dbag with a piece of cloth and a stupid worldview.

sweetwaterblue on August 14, 2014 at 9:01 AM

Personally I think you’re better off knowing that your neighbor sympathizes with a genocidal terrorist group than not knowing. I’d rather the sympathizers operate in the open and not in secret. I would have said, “Let this dummy fly his flag, as long as the rest of us get to fly the U.S. flag in response.”

Aitch748 on August 14, 2014 at 8:54 AM

Exactly.

When you have the truth on your side, absolute freedom of ideological speech is an infinitely favorable turf on which to fight.

Think about it from the other side. If you want to gain support/demoralize the opposition, and your own arguments are indefensible, which of the following is a more useful precedent?

1. People’s must not be threatened no matter what arguments they espouse.
Or
2. Free speech is great and all, but some ideas are just beyond the pale, and so violent suppression of an idea is ok, provided the suppressed ideals have a sufficiently high “evil” rating.

Groups like Hamas thrive under option #2. Domestically, the IRS loves option #2.

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 9:13 AM

No, in times of peace and tranquility, yes…but when at war, or the flag represents reprehensible acts and atrocity’s, of course not.

It’s a matter of discernment…if a neighbors child was molested by a NAMBLA creep, would you allow him to fly a NAMBLA flag?

If a black family was attacked by the KKK, would you allow the next door neighbor to fly a KKK flag? Of course not. Burn a cross on their own front yard? Of course not.

Do they have the right? No, hang it in their kitchen or living room…putting it out means that you are supporting actions that are counter to any sort of civilized behavior.

right2bright on August 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM

some ideas are too dangerous/repugnant for civilized people to tolerate”.

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 8:57 AM

Well some are…free speech isn’t free from responsibility.

And as a society we define that, not Sharia law, not some liberal, or conservative…but as a society we define what is decent and moral.

Some things step out beyond that…you cannot burn a cross in your front yard while wearing KKK garb, and you shouldn’t.

It’s nice to say “no limits” on free speech, but the fact is, the founders were thinking of political speech, not social speech, where you can stand on a corner and spew filth out of your mouth…or fly a flag that represents the worst of mankind…while peoples heads are being torn off, children shot and killed, and genocide is taking place and supported under the guise of “free speech”.

right2bright on August 14, 2014 at 9:21 AM

In your example of the Jews in Great Britain, they are not at war with the UK govm’t. They are not advocating the overthrow of that govm’t, Jews in the UK are not plotting daily to kill citizens and representatives of that country.

The Israelis are accused by many in so called “polite society” of mass murder of civilians in Gaza, because they had the temerity to shoot back at people firing rockets at them and building tunnels to invade and kidnap their citizens. This is accepted by enough people that it has become politically feasible to crack down on trade with Israel.

Under political conditions like that, precedent that a violent group cannot be supported symbolically, if tolerated, will absolutely be useful against people flying Israeli Flags.

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 9:21 AM

I reckon so.

It makes things easier when it comes to knowing whom to avoid, or worse.

Reaps on August 14, 2014 at 9:25 AM

We have reached the point in America where a Marine is asked to take down his American flag and the Confederate flag is considered offensive, yet people will defend the right to hang the ISIS flag in support of the most violent group of humans current parading their way through Iraq?

I pray that a meteor strikes us dead center at 90 degrees… we no longer deserve to live here.

TheLoudTalker on August 14, 2014 at 9:28 AM

If the First Amendment doesn’t protect his right to fly that flag, then it doesn’t protect freedom of expression for the rest of us.

The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect our right to sing “Happy Birthday” and chat about the weather.

Bruce MacMahon on August 13, 2014 at 10:40 PM

~

Exactly.

If a flag can be outlawed as “offensive,” the left – never far from totalitarianism if given the power – will use the same loophole to find offense at every “anti-government” rally or candidate.

Only unpopular speech needs protection.

Adjoran on August 14, 2014 at 9:29 AM

Has anyone heard of the 1st Amendment? The 1st Amendment – free Speech – is there to protect unpopular speech.

MoreLiberty on August 14, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Does the idiot homeowner have the right to display the flag of of the organization guilty of atrocities in Syria and Iraq? Unfortunately, yes. And I vehemently disagree with some of those commentators here who advocated a violent reaction to this. Such a reaction would be counterproductive, and the establishment media would spin this to make this scumbag look like a martyr.

There is a much more sane way of responding to this. Publically declaring solidarity with an organization that has declared intent to attack the US is legal, but HAS PROBABLE CAUSE WRITTEN ALL OVER IT. The FBI needs to comb his house from top to bottom, and put him under very close surveillance. Twenty bucks says that if we look close enough, we will be able to find something “real” on either him, or one of his first-degree associates.

SubmarineDoc on August 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM

And let’s also be frank. Liberals are the biggest hypocrites when it come to free speech and thought.

hawkdriver on August 14, 2014 at 6:33 AM

And if we act like them, we are like them.

unclesmrgol on August 14, 2014 at 10:03 AM

It’s pretty disturbing that Turks – traditionally a pretty moderate bunch – would be aligning themselves with ISIS.

flipflop on August 14, 2014 at 10:03 AM

It’s despicable and stupid to fly the ISIS flag. It’s also his 1st Amendment right. The 1st Amendment is there to protect controversial speech, not the stuff everyone agrees with. Of course, his neighbors have the right to socially ostracize the guy, put pics of him on social media, etc.

The Grinch on August 14, 2014 at 10:05 AM

No, in times of peace and tranquility, yes…but when at war, or the flag represents reprehensible acts and atrocity’s, of course not.

Under that precedent, as soon as someone suckers enough people into thinking the Israelis are deliberately slaughtering Palestinian kids, it will be illegal to fly an Israeli flag.

It’s a matter of discernment…if a neighbors child was molested by a NAMBLA creep, would you allow him to fly a NAMBLA flag?

On a personal level, I’d vomit, I’d be disgusted, and I’d have to suppress all instinct to punch the guy in the face every time I saw the creep.

Legally? I’m not sure. I’m not a lawyer, but there might be grounds for a harassment suit, if it can be convincingly shown that the speech is directed specifically toward the victim, rather than as a general ideological statement, directed at the public at large, in support of eliminating age of consent laws.

“It’s a matter of discernment” is correct in the sense that of someone is arguing that it is unprotected because of harassment laws (I.e., it isn’t really speech at all). But it’s not acceptable, and MUST NOT be acceptable, for the government to use “discernment” to separate good ideas from evil ones, and proscribe the latter.

Evil ideas must be defeated by good ones, in broad daylight, as often as they crop up, and under no coercion from the state — the power of the government to crush dissent simply makes it too dangerous for them to be involved in the war against evil ideas.

If a black family was attacked by the KKK, would you allow the next door neighbor to fly a KKK flag? Of course not. Burn a cross on their own front yard? Of course not.

This is similar to the above. You likely cannot be allowed to do that, but NOT because it is tasteless, or appalling, not even because it provides ideological support to the perpetrators.

The reason you would probably not be able to do that is because, due to the circumstances, there is an implicit, credible threat that immediate harm will come to the neighbor if he does not move away, based on the stated goal of the organization and the history of people burning crosses on lawns.

Do they have the right? No, hang it in their kitchen or living room…putting it out means that you are supporting actions that are counter to any sort of civilized behavior.

right2bright on August 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Supporting uncivilized behavior is not, and MUST NOT, be grounds for suppression. The definition is simply too easily abused.

The Israel-Gaza situation is only one example where the precedent is guaranteed to be turned on its head. Another one is with the NRA. This one is particularly salient, because the times that the NRA needs to be most vocal are times when legislative action is being threatened on response to some tragic school shooting. These are precisely the moments where the argument that “gun rights and those who support them are beyond the pale” is so emotionally powerful to many people.

I completely sympathize with the urge to knock some decency into these wretched people who would fly an ISIS flag. But allowing that is simply too much of a Pandora’s box.

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 10:07 AM

What Difference Does it Make?!

Boxtnt on August 14, 2014 at 10:11 AM

It’s pretty disturbing that Turks – traditionally a pretty moderate bunch – would be aligning themselves with ISIS.

flipflop on August 14, 2014 at 10:03 AM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/how-turkey-became-the-shopping-mall-for-the-islamic-state/2014/08/12/5eff70bf-a38a-4334-9aa9-ae3fc1714c4b_story.html

unclesmrgol on August 14, 2014 at 10:26 AM

After thinking about this for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that the homeowner has a right to fly their flag…

Just as his neighbor has a right to display a sign with an arrow pointing to his house saying… “Supports terrorists killing children

(It’s not libel or slander if it’s true.)

dominigan on August 14, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Absolutely they should be allowed to fly that flag. In fact, I would recommend EVERYONE in the country who supports ISIS or any such variant fly the flag on the doorstep.

Consider it a targeting reticule. Cancer is easier to surgically remove when it’s easily identifiable.

xNavigator on August 14, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Wonder what our Founders would have to say about this.
After the American revolution, was it okay to fly the British flag?
& how many times have we read where homeowners were forced to remove an American Flag?!?
But when its Islam, that’s freedom of speech.

I think to counter it, all the neighbors should put up Israeli flags.

Belle on August 14, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Here’s what the guy said:

“I hang it every Friday and every Ramadan which ended not too long ago and I keep it up a little longer than I normally do,” Dunaway told FoxNews.com. “I guess some people saw it and got offended so I took it down. I do not support any militant group or anything like that.

Riiiiiiiight.

Ward Cleaver on August 14, 2014 at 10:47 AM

It’s nice to say “no limits” on free speech, but the fact is, the founders were thinking of political speech, not social speech, where you can stand on a corner and spew filth out of your mouth…or fly a flag that represents the worst of mankind…while peoples heads are being torn off, children shot and killed, and genocide is taking place and supported under the guise of “free speech”.

right2bright on August 14, 2014 at 9:21 AM

“And that is why we simply cannot allow people to fly the Israeli flag.”
/leftist Hamas-loving douchebag

I can guarantee you that that argument, possibly even those precise words, will be used if we allow this precedent.

The left and Islamic terrorists need this precedent, that vicious, violent people and ideologies cannot be allowed to be supported symbolically. They have much more use for it than us, since it is often the case that in a moment of doubt, the public can be deceived as to who the “worst of mankind” actually are. Show enough heart-rending pictures of dead 5 year old Palestinian human shields, and you may very well convince people, at least momentarily, that Israel represents the worst of mankind.

Granted, that kind of deception can often eventually be undone, but it usually takes time, and in that time, the government has a powerful tool to enforce and normalize its own doublespeak.

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Do people have a right to fly the confederate flag? Nazi Flag? Soviet Flag?

nazo311 on August 14, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Do people have a right to fly the confederate flag? Nazi Flag? Soviet Flag?

nazo311 on August 14, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Yes, yes, and yes.

And yes, anyone flying the latter two flags is scum, as are many who fly the first.* This does not change the fact this the government cannot be allowed to make that judgement.

(*there are some who legitimately see it not as a symbol of slavery, but a symbol of opposition to federal power vs state power, and agree or disagree, I would not call them “scum”)

RINO in Name Only on August 14, 2014 at 11:14 AM

I suppose the leftists ideologues will tolerate an ISIS flag on every schoolyard flagpole, bur just don’t try to put up one of those evil confederate flags.

Don L on August 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

It’s a matter of discernment…if a neighbors child was molested by a NAMBLA creep, would you allow him to fly a NAMBLA flag?

If a black family was attacked by the KKK, would you allow the next door neighbor to fly a KKK flag? Of course not. Burn a cross on their own front yard? Of course not.

right2bright on August 14, 2014 at 9:16 AM

I would.
I would also tell them that if they ever set foot on my property there would be dangerous issues.
my detest of them does not nullify their first amendment rights.
now if I caught them molesting a child or hurting a black person (caught in action) I would do what I could to kill them.
their actions are not a free speech issue then.

dmacleo on August 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM

That’s why our house flies a Pittsburgh Penguins flag in hockey season

Cheshire_Kat on August 13, 2014 at 7:39 PM

I like the cut of your jib.

HikaruKitsune on August 14, 2014 at 11:27 AM

The First Amendment doesn’t exist to protect our right to sing “Happy Birthday” and chat about the weather.
Bruce MacMahon on August 13, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Bingo! My relatives believe it should be illegal to publish statements “that are lies, like Drudge does”, and that Limbaugh (who they have never heard speak a word) should not be allowed to have a radio program. OTOH, I have to admit that I think it should be illegal for ignorant hypocrites like them to vote.

Ray Van Dune on August 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM

So my neighbor’s right to free speech allows him to wave the flag of a terrorist group but I can’t call Obama a n*****, a gay man a f** or a Hispanic a w****** . I can be discriminated against because I espouse bigoted opinions but my neighbor gets to openly support terroristic ones?

katiejane on August 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

So my neighbor’s right to free speech allows him to wave the flag of a terrorist group but I can’t call Obama a n*****, a gay man a f** or a Hispanic a w****** . I can be discriminated against because I espouse bigoted opinions but my neighbor gets to openly support terroristic ones?

katiejane on August 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

fwiw I think anyone should be able to say any works they want.
anyone that gets upset over them has allowed a bunch of letters to have power over them. thats their problem not mine.

dmacleo on August 14, 2014 at 1:43 PM

I guess I have to ask myself if it’s OK to toss a pound of bacon on the public sidewalk outside of his house every weekend.

NoPain on August 14, 2014 at 1:46 PM

It’s ironic that the symbol of the least tolerant organization on earth demands tolerance of their flag.

I say keep the government out of it, and let the neighbors handle it.

landlines on August 14, 2014 at 2:09 PM

I suppose the leftists ideologues will tolerate an ISIS flag on every schoolyard flagpole, bur just don’t try to put up one of those evil confederate flags.

Don L on August 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

I am guessing that a Christian flag would somehow be out of the question?

landlines on August 14, 2014 at 2:13 PM

The founders were pretty clear on this issue.

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…

If you are still unclear on the meaning, I suggest looking up the word ‘abridging’. Madison obviously didn’t want the freedom of speech to be dismantled piece by piece. It only works as an all or nothing proposition. It can’t be limited without it eventually being rendered meaningless.

Frankly, I’m a little surprised so many fail to grasp this concept here.

weathermen on August 14, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I guess our Constitution is a suicide lpact after all.

Old Country Boy on August 14, 2014 at 7:56 PM

Would someone have the right to fly a Nazi flag?

Axion on August 14, 2014 at 11:07 PM

so according to liberals
an American flag can be taken down as someone finds it offensive

a nativity scene can be banned as a liberal finds it offensive

but the isis flag of murder, rape and genocide is ok.

sniffles1999 on August 15, 2014 at 12:00 AM

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