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The First Amendment: not always pretty

Prosecutors last week dropped charges against a Winona, Minn., teenager who was ticketed in September for desecrating an American flag.

Police had charged the 14-year-old boy after he wrote song lyrics on a flag, burned holes in it, and tore it into several pieces. He then scattered the pieces throughout his high school before skipping class to attend the Rage Against the Machine concert on Sept. 3rd in Minneapolis during the Republican National Convention.

While the U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated prohibitions on desecrating the U.S. flag, Minnesota is one of 47 states with laws on the books prohibiting such acts. Why was this incident allowed to slide? Perhaps city prosecutors had bigger fish to fry, or as legal blogger Sam Lea speculated, maybe they didn’t want Minnesota’s anti-flag desecration law to be held up to constitutional scrutiny via the courts.

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