Man Charged With Hate Crime for Burning Flag of Country That Protects Flag-Burning

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Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

The guy who allegedly set fire to an American flag hanging from the awning of a the Playwrights Irish Pub in Midtown early on July 5 now faces an array of predictable charges for that kind of behavior: reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and arson. He also faces a hate crime enhancement to those charges, which is a bit more bizarre. Flag-burning is a constitutionally protected activity, the Supreme Court has already decided. But in this case, the flag was attached to the awning of an Irish pub, which also burned, so maybe there's an argument to be made for some kind of bias having to do with its Irishness? Anyway, the New York Post, naturally, is beside itself about the whole thing, pointing out in its lede that suspect Jeff Schorsheide, 26, of Greenpoint, was born in Canada, of all places.

But the more troubling part of this story is the fact that all kinds of people walked by while someone burned something on a building. Hate crime or no, let's just take a minute to remember that arson's bad.

NBC New York has some surveillance footage: