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

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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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly