Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ ruling that American Flag may be used as toilet paper

In my earlier post today, Old Glory, RIP @ https://douglassbartley.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/old-glory-r-i-p/, I wrote critically of the Texas v. Johnson case which held that flag burning was constitutionally-protected free speech. In that article I said: “And if Johnson, instead of spitting on the flag, had instead dropped his pants and defecated on it as a way of expressing his innermost feelings, the court, constipated by the Johnson precedent, would have to strain to distinguish “defecation expression” from “spitting expression”. As Jules B. Gerard aptly said, “The step between constitutionalizing the words, ‘S**t on the United States’ and validating the act of defecating on the flag is a short one.”

How prophetic of Mr. Gerard!

State v. Janssen, 213 Wis.2nd 431 @ http://www.wisbar.org/res/capp/z1997/97-1316.htm. In its unanimous opinion throwing out the defendant’s flag desecration charge, the court described the facts: “The facts giving rise to the flag desecration charge are substantially undisputed. Matthew Janssen and a group of his friends began stealing American flags from various locations in the City of Appleton. One of the flags stolen was from the flag pole located at the Reid Municipal Golf Course. The golf course flag was replaced, and again removed by Janssen and his friends. Janssen then defecated on the flag, and placed it at the front entry of the clubhouse. The soiled flag was cleaned and once more displayed on the golf course flag pole. Again Janssen stole the flag, this time leaving behind a handwritten note. The note was inscribed with an encircled “A” in the upper-right-hand corner, and read as follows:

Golf Course Rich F__ks: When are you dumb f__ks going to learn? We stole you’re [sic] first flag and burnt [sic] it, then we used your second flag for a sh__-rag and left it on your doorstep with a peice [sic] of sh__. The ANARCHIST PLATOON HAS INVADED Appleton and as long as you put flags up were [sic] going to burn them you yuppie f__ks. Shove you’re [sic] cluB [sic] up you’re [sic] a__.” * * *

Janssen was charged with flag desecration under “§946.05 Flag desecration. (1) Whoever intentionally and publicly mutilates, defiles, or casts contempt upon the flag is guilty of a Class E felony. (2) In this section ‘flag’ means anything which is or purports to be the Stars and Stripes, the United States shield, the United States coat of arms, the Wisconsin state flag, or a copy, picture, or representation of any of them.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals based its decision on the grounds that the flag desecration statute, was unconstitutionally “overbroad”.

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Published in: on March 30, 2012 at 4:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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