UC-Irvine Students Tried to Ban American Flag Because Free Speech 'Can Be Interpreted as Hate Speech'

More from the "everything is offensive" crowd.


American flag
Andreitsalko / Dreamstime

The University of California-Irvine student government recently struck a blow against free speech "that can be interpreted as hate speech" when it voted to remove all flags, including the American flag, from its campus office. That decision was quickly vetoed by the student government president.

According to Campus Reform, the Associated Students of University of California-Irvine voted 6-4 (with two abstentions) to pass the measure sponsored by Social Ecology Representative Matthew Guevara. The text of the resolution can be found here. Some entertaining highlights:

Whereas flags are typically viewed as patriotic symbols of a single nation, are often associated with government and military due to their history and have a wide variety of interpretations. …

Whereas flags construct paradigms of conformity and sets homogenized standards for others to obtain which in this country typically are idolized as freedom, equality, and democracy. …

Whereas a common ideological understanding of the United states includes American exceptionalism and superiority. …

Whereas the American flag is commonly flown in government public service locations, military related entities, at homes, in foreign lands where the US government has a presence. ..

Whereas the American flag has been flown in instances of colonialism and imperialism. …

Whereas designers should be careful about using cultural symbols as the symbols will inherently remain open for interpretation. ..

Whereas a high-quality culturally inclusive spaces is essential in any society that embodies a dynamic and multifaceted culture

Whereas freedom of speech is a valued right that ASUCI supports.

Whereas freedom of speech, in a space that aims to be as inclusive as possible can be interpreted as hate speech.

Needless to say, this resolution was pretty much tailor-made to infuriate regular people outside the socialist enclave of UCI. Conservative-leaning sites, in particular, had a field day. Breitbart reported the news thus:

"UC Irvine Student: US Flag Banned to Avoid 'Triggering' Hurt Feelings Among Illegals."

A student who spoke with Breitbart News on condition of anonymity that she heard a member of the ASUCI discussing "the [American] flag and how it triggered people." She then said she believed a major line of reasoning behind the legislation to remove the flag could have been a "precautionary step" to prevent a trigger situation where if someone is an "illegal citizen or [they] have citizenship issues, it makes them feel bad.

"But me and my friends were like, 'Dude, you're in America. It's the American flag,'" she added.

Now, many libertarians are uncomfortable being forced to pay homage to the American flag (i.e., reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools)—not because they dislike the U.S. or its people, but because coerced worshipping of the federal government violates the very principle the flag represents. It's true that deference to the flag can take on creepy or quasi-religious religious overtones. And all Americans have a First Amendment right to descrate the flag; this right is sacred in a way the symbol is not.

On the other hand, it's a little silly to think merely hanging the flag in some office is an excercise in militaristic nationalism. If any students—immigrant or otherwise—are psychologically triggered by the very sight of the thing, they probably need therapy. When viewed as the next step in the campus left's current effort to ban all potentially offensive words and deeds under the vague and illogically-defined umbrella of "hate speech," this resolution seems very stupid indeed.