Protesting for Rights and Property: Gregory Lee Johnson's 1984 - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  886 Words
Date:  2023-08-12


A good government should not only protect the right of its citizen alone but also property. However, living under a government where there is a lack of protection citizen's rights and the property is terrible and horrible. In 1984, Gregory lee Johnson followed a group of anti-Raegan Protestants to oppose third world countries' exploitation by the American government (Goldstein, 2019). Every American then and today had a right to speech and expression.

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The idea of protesting was also good as it addressed the government's use of its authority to exploit the third world countries. Out of about one hundred demonstrators involved in the ordeal, Johnson was the only person charged with the crime. In this context, the court failed to treat Johnson in the same way as other demonstrators. Citizens live peacefully in a state where they are treated equally, and justice prevails. Johnson's case displays that the Reagan government was not inclusive since only Johnson was spotlighted to be on the wrong while there were other people (Chapman & Ciment, 2015). Johnson was incarcerated under Texas law as a result of the burning of the American flag. The concept of protecting the country's property appears to be no exception in Reagans' government. Although the government needed to protect the burning of the flag, the government would have done more justice by including other suspects involved during the demonstration.

Living Under a Government That Does Not Harm Person and Property

A good government should ensure that every person and property is protected against harm. Reagan's government focused on protecting property but ignoring human rights. The government took an initiative of charging and convicting Johnson of the illegal act of the flag' desecration. The Supreme Court found that Johnson's conduct never disturbed or threatened life and peace. Ideally, it was petitioned that Johnson lit the American flag. The interest of the petitioner in preserving the flag a nation and society did not justify Johnson's conviction of engaging in political expression (Goldstein, 2019). From this perspective, people can conclude that Reagan's government solely focused on the property than caring for human rights.


One area that people would want to know is whether the burning of the American flag constitutes expressive first amendment conduct. The First Amendment states that Congress shall not pass the law without the establishment of religion or preventing people from free exercise. In this context, the concept of religion does not hold (Gold, 2014). The demonstration never captured anything that concerns religious practices but was based on how third world countries were exploited by Reagan's government, which seems more political. Thus, there is nowhere people have prevented from the free exercise of religion by Reagan's government.

Personal Liberty

In a good government, every person's freedom is protected by the constitution. In the United States, the Supreme Court clearly states that expressive conduct is protected by the First Amendment of the US constitution. Surprisingly, of about 100 demonstrators, only Johnson was charged with a crime. The court noted that freedom of speech that a person can engage in might be very offensive, but a person outrage cannot be justified to suppress the freedom of speech (Chapman & Ciment, 2015). Even though the court may punish Johnson's action like burning of the flag, such action may arouse anger in others. Specifically, it exempted the prosecution of action that respected the venerated objects such as burying and burning of a worn-out flag. Therefore, the government has no right to discriminate against a person on the matter based on the viewpoint.


Self-government refers to a system where a country's citizen control their own affairs and rule themselves. In this context, Johnson's case tends to be outside political authority. In the United States, it is undeniable that the principle of self-government holds. Arguably, Johnson was engaged in a political demonstration in which he had drenched the country flag with Kerosene and burnt it (Gold, 2014). The court ruled that the burning of the flag was not part of political speech because the First Amendment guided it. The First Amendment allows people to assemble anywhere peacefully and petition the government to address their grievance. Every American citizen has the right to express ideas and information freely.

The First Amendment facilitates the expression of ideas and opinions without the government fueling the fear of censorship. The First Amendment protects every form of communication, which limits a person not to say anything whenever they want. Conflicting words are not protected under the First Amendment (Chapman & Ciment, 2015). Symbolic speech can take the form of an action, written, and spoken. The kind of speech form expresses the idea in a specific way, but only a few are protected as a symbolic speech. In Johnson's case, the court ruled that the state official had no right to designate symbols to applied to communicate only some set of messages. Based on the First Amendment principle, the government has no right to prevent the expression of ideas since society may find the opinion disagreeable and offensive.


Chapman, R., & Ciment, J. (2015). Culture wars: An encyclopedia of issues, viewpoints and voices. Routledge.

Gold, S. D. (2014). Saluting the flag: West Virginia State Board of education v. Barnette. Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC.

Goldstein, R. J. (2019). undefined. Saving "Old Glory", 195-228.

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Protesting for Rights and Property: Gregory Lee Johnson's 1984 - Essay Sample. (2023, Aug 12). Retrieved from

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