Terence Johnson Throws American Flag into Traffic, But Is That Illegal?

Categories: Crime

tjohnsonflag.jpg
Terence Johnson: Caught on camera.
There can be a thin line between ballsy and dumb.

Terence Dwayne Johnson, 20, of the tiny East Texas hamlet of Bedias, apparently decided to test where that line might be.

According to cops who talked to KLTV, security footage at a Lovelady hardware store shows him grabbing an American flag out of its mount and tossing it onto State Highway 19.

The affidavit in his court record states, sadly, "the flag was never recovered."

Maybe it's a First Amendment thing for Johnson, and will result in an interesting court case. Maybe the ACLU will get involved, and Fox News will make a big deal out of it.

Someone might even point out, like one of the commenters to the story did, that "If BHO had a son he would look like Terence."

Police say other charges may be filed against Johnson. We'll see what happens. Right now he's charged with the misdemeanor of destruction of the American flag, which says a person "commits an
offense if the person intentionally or knowingly damages, defaces, mutilates, or burns the flag of the United States or the State of Texas."

The Supreme Court, of course, ruled flag-burning to be constitutional in Texas v. Johnson, but we're not lawyers.

Joel Androphy, an expert criminal lawyer here, is an attorney, and he doesn't see much of a case.

Essentially, he says, the Texas law is unconstitutional, but remains on the books only because legislators see no upside in voting to take it off the books, preferring the courts to do so. Johnson would not even have to make much of a claim that he was making a statement about the country -- or the hardware store, for that matter -- for the charge to be tossed.

We've asked the Texas chapter of the ACLU for comment, and will update when we get it. (Update: The Texas chapter of the ACLU confirms the law is still on the books, but that the Supreme Court ruling says desecrating the flag is protected free speech.)

Even if it's legal, of course, the question of whether it's a smart thing for a black guy to do in East Texas, of all places, is another matter.


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36 comments
Dartfrog37
Dartfrog37

Well he didnt throw the flag into traffic thinking nothing would happen to it so yep charges fit the crime. Plus stealing loitering ect. Freedom of speach doesnt give you the right to steal or damage peoples property and while americas not perfect it is the land of the free and im proud to be american....though i dont think that dude is anymore....

Guest
Guest

ok so it was legal for him to desecrate the flag, HOWEVER,was it his property that he destroyed?if you throw a flag on the ground, is that littering?and frankly, i think most importantly... throwing something in the roadway can't be safe for traffic.... thus, how about wreckless endangerment of the public?

BTW, the unconstitutional law, left on the books, apparently intentionally, i would think would leave the Tx govt liable for a entire host of irresonsibilities.. for knowingly leaving ppl as targets of judicial abuse.

Mind you, I am a disabled veterana dn wholely support patriotism.Thus I disagree with the targeting of our flag.if that is ok, then how would it be different to target our national monuments?

However, allowing it is the law.... till govt again regains some balls and sets it right.

So In the mean, ammend the charges against this asshole.stick all ya can on him.JUST MAYBE, sumn will catch on the contract moral clauses.

seems just as doubtful though

sheep being eaten by mad cow infected sheep

Jason Rahall
Jason Rahall

Buy the hardware store a new flag, write a sincere letter of apology and call it a day.

TOLDYA
TOLDYA

First Happy Birthday Fat Bass Turd, Today is mine as well 51 thank god for first cousins. Ok who really gives a flying fucktards shit. About  what this piss poor excuse for a Harley drive belt did. I'm thinking he'll get his sooner than later. To the rest I'm gonna give Wyatts mom the dirty sanchez just like last year, then Fat Bass Turd and I are going drinking.

Evan
Evan

I think Texas v. Johnson distinguishes between destruction of a flag as part of a speech act and destruction for the sake of destruction. 

Badtastic
Badtastic

So what about shoplifting or destruction of property? The question of constitutionality doesnt apply to destroying property owned by someone else. Perhaps if he bought the flag and destroyed it without throwing it into the freeway...

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

I am not a lawyer, but fuck it, that never stopped anyone on the internet from weighing in:

If it wasn't his flag, it sounds like he owes the store owner a new one.If it was his flag, it sounds like he was littering.

Wyatt
Wyatt

In before a bunch of shitheads start commenting. (Or starting the parade, whatever.) Barring speech or activity simply because it's offensive is more un-American than burning an entire warehouse full of flags. But can't this guy still be charged with destruction of property or something? It wasn't his flag.

Wyatt
Wyatt

If you can't see the difference between destroying a public monument and destroying a flag *that you own*, then I don't know what to tell you.

Of course, this guy didn't own the flag he destroyed, so like others have said, he could easily be punished for theft, or whatever.

And if you're patriotic, I assume you believe in free speech. Making it illegal to destroy a flag just because you find it offensive (which, granted, most people do) is a violation of free speech. And stepping on freedom in order to protect what is supposed to be a symbol of freedom is kind of crazy. I think it's more disrespectful to what this country stands for to outlaw flag burning than it is to actually burn the flag.

Real freedom means allowing expression, even when you don't agree with it. Freedom does not mean making anything offensive illegal.

Fat Bass Turd
Fat Bass Turd

Mornin', Wyatt ... this "sh¡thead" wants to comment on the "sh¡thead" that destroyed an American flag.  First, "Citizen Johnson" removed property from said business.  Did he pay for that?  Nope ... so, let's start with theft.  How 'bout destruction of property?  Why not vandalism?  Wasn't he loitering in front of said business?  Really, I'm sure the local law enforcement could get creative.  Do I want my tax dollars to pay for "Citizen Johnson's" incarceration or trial for any of these infractions?  Not really.  However, if "Citizen Johnson" thinks so highly of our American flag, I would be willing to contribute towards payment for a one-way ticket to somewhere more fitting of his behavior ... like Somalia!

And Rich, be a responsible journalist (if there is such a thing).  The "black guy to do in East Texas" comment needs to be removed (by an arbitrator) unless you want to get "Citizen X" involved (the ramifications of such Quanellifications might "start a parade, whatever.")

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

Another honest question: What to your thinking is an "arbitrator," and why are you so preoccupied with them?

Thenonymous
Thenonymous

Honest question: Would you feel the same way if someone had taken a store owner's Mexican flag and thrown it into the street? How about an Iranian flag?

Wyatt
Wyatt

Yes, it sounds like he was committing at least one other misdemeanor for which charges would be appropriate. Congratulations, that's exactly what I said. Trouble reading today, or just feeling redundant?

Also, despite the evidence to the contrary, I'm going to assume you're an adult. You're commenting on the internet, under an anonymous - and poorly conceived, stupid-sounding, juvenile, etc. - handle. You can type "shithead." You probably wouldn't even break a sweat.

Wyatt
Wyatt

A joke between which co-workers? Also, arbitrator doesn't mean that what they do...all right, never mind. No more logic. I'm going to try to stoop to your level instead. It can be an entrance - just ask your wife!!

I'm pretty good at your level, I think.

Fat Bass Turd
Fat Bass Turd

I was arbitrarily "edited by a moderator" back in March .. it's a pun, Wyatt; an inside joke amongst coworkers.  Chill.  A little more fiber in your diet may loosen you up; but remember, it's an exit, not an entrance ...

Wyatt
Wyatt

 Moderator? Editor? Seriously, at least look up arbitrator so you know why you sound the way you do.

Fat Bass Turd
Fat Bass Turd

It's a Rich thing ... it happened (snif) and I've been scarred ever since ...

Fat Bass Turd
Fat Bass Turd

If I were a Mexican, and you did that on my soil, I'd slit yer pinche throat ...

My2Cents
My2Cents

Well thank you...lol but that is no way to be a curmudgeon...hehehe

My2Cents
My2Cents

lol... yeah I knew you were talking about the button av....was messing with you.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Aw, you changed it. Just for the record, I wasn't going by the picture of your face, but the other one that looked like a button. If it's any consolation, you don't look like you are 50 in the current picture.

My2Cents
My2Cents

Well I am 50, so I guess you might want to hurry, if you want to catch up!

Wyatt
Wyatt

If it really is your birthday, take the day off from the internet, damn it

H_e_x
H_e_x

My goal is to be a full curmudgeon by 35.Judging from your picture, I see you already have a good start on me. 

Fat Bass Turd
Fat Bass Turd

Thanks for the love, Wyatt!  Let me dust my knuckles off before I wipe the sweat from my protruding brow and take an hour to answer back ...

Wyatt
Wyatt

 "Prissy-ass"? "Manpons"? When lobbed at someone you know next to nothing about, insults like that are most effective at revealing your own insecurities.

Also, you're really 50? My apologies. And I'm not sorry because that's somehow a bad age to be. I'm sorry because in five decades you haven't managed to evolve much past a barely-literate, reactionary doofus. Have a good one, though.

My2Cents
My2Cents

No but it would seem you are getting a jump on it before 50.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I hope when I am 50 I won't look back on my life and see that it has been wasted and that I have nothing left but to spew hackneyed insults at people on the internet.

american_flag
american_flag

You're 50 and use the insult "fucktard". Lovely.

H_e_x
H_e_x

"Wonder if an arbitrator is gonna remove this?"That cross of yours must be pretty heavy.

Fat Bass Turd
Fat Bass Turd

Oh, Wyatt … I must retort; if Spec's doesn't have what ails ya, just walk yer prissy-ass to a Walgreens and buy yerself some "Manpons" … BEATCH.

It's my 50th birthday (so I'm bein' redundant as well as remedial ... beer was involved). And if I wanna type "sh¡thead" because I've memorized my character codes, that's my prerogative. So, conceive that ... fuctard!  You must be mistakin' me for someone who gives a sh¡t ...

Wonder if an arbitrator is gonna remove this?

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