A little over 30 miles from my home, a flag-burning case is all over the local news.
In Urbana, Illinois, Bryton Mellott, 22 years of age, was booked by local law enforcement for burning the U.S. flag as a form of political protest. Specifically, Mellott was booked for disorderly conduct and violating the Illinois flag desecration statute, which officially classifies flag desecration as a felony in Illinois.
I want to share my own thoughts about flag burning.
Unless there are aggravating circumstances in a particular case (such as flag burning on government property of any kind, flag burning on private property not owned by the individual burning the flag without permission from the property owner, or causing a broader public danger by burning the flag (such as igniting a wildfire or setting fire to something other than the flag)), flag burning should be considered a form of protected free speech. As someone who comes from a family that has had many family members serve in our nation’s Armed Forces, I regard the U.S. flag as a very important national symbol, and burning the U.S. flag is something that I would never do. If I wish to air some kind of grievance that I have about politics or government policy, I will write a blog post, either on this website or another website, about it. However, as long as no damage is being done to property other than the flag itself, the flag in question is the property of the individual burning it, and the flag burning is taking place on one’s own private property or, if on someone else’s property, with permission from the property owner, I don’t believe that flag burning should be a criminal offense of any kind. Keep in mind that I don’t personally approve of burning the flag as a form of protest, and it is something that I would never even consider doing. If you wish to dispose of a U.S. flag in a proper and dignified manner, I recommend contacting an organization like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) for information before disposing of the flag.
Also, I strongly disapprove of making violent threats towards people, even people who are convicted or accused of criminal activity. We have a judicial system in this country that is built on the principle of due process, not vigilantism.
A grand jury in Harris County, Texas (includes nearly all of Houston) has officially indicted two individuals associated with the altered videos that were part of an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood over fetal tissue research:
- David Daleiden, executive director of the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) – Indicted on a felony count of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to the purchase of human organs
- Sandra Merritt, employee of CMP – indicted on a count of tampering with a governmental record
The grand jury was originally convened to investigate Planned Parenthood over the videos, but decided to turn the tables on the anti-abortion smear artists and indict two of them instead. I hope that Daleiden and Merritt are prosecuted to the fullest and fairest extent of the law.
Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted by a grand jury on three criminal counts by a grand jury in Collin County, Texas (northern Dallas suburbs, including McKinney, Plano, and Frisco). Two of the charges are for securities fraud, the other is for failing to register with the Texas securities board:
The grand jury in the northern Dallas suburb of McKinney handed up a three-count indictment against Mr. Paxton several days ago, officials said. The indictment is to be unsealed on Monday, when Mr. Paxton is expected to turn himself in to the authorities at the Collin County Jail. The charges — two counts of first-degree securities fraud and one count of third-degree failure to register — are tied to Mr. Paxton’s work soliciting clients and investors for two companies while he was a member of the Texas House of Representatives but before he was elected attorney general in November 2014.
In the most serious charges — first-degree securities fraud — Mr. Paxton is accused of misleading investors in a technology company, Servergy Inc., which is based in his hometown, McKinney. He is accused of encouraging the investors in 2011 to put more than $600,000 in Servergy while failing to tell them he was making a commission on their investment and misrepresenting himself as an investor in the company, said Kent A. Schaffer, one of the two special prosecutors handling the case. The group of investors had been Mr. Paxton’s friends and included a colleague in the Texas House, State Representative Byron Cook.
The grand jury in Collin County, which began hearing evidence in early July, determined that Mr. Paxton’s failure to register with the state for his work for Mowery Capital Management amounted to a crime, and charged him with the one felony count of failure to register. Mr. Paxton had also failed to register with the securities board during his work in 2011 for Servergy, but Mr. Schaffer said they decided not to seek a failure-to-register felony charge from the grand jury in that instance because the statute of limitations had run out.
To put that into perspective, the top law enforcement official in the State of Texas is now under indictment for:
- Encouraging his buddies, which include Texas State Representative Byron Cook (R-Corsicana), to invest in a technology company without telling them he was making money off of their investment
- Misrepresenting himself while encouraging his buddies to invest in the technology company
- Working for an investment advisory firm without registering with the Texas State Securities Board
Ken Paxton should resign the office of Attorney General of Texas immediately, as he is an absolute disgrace to Texas. Sadly, this kind of criminal activity by right-wing politicians in Texas is far too commonplace. There are good people in Texas, but it seems to me that they’re in the minority, especially when one considers how ridiculously easy it is for Republican crooks to get elected statewide there.
As I said above, everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes white-collar crime.