2019: Student Responses to Speaking Engagements by Gregory “Joey” Johnson:

Thank you again for your talk, it was really a powerful and well-prepared speech… From what I understood, the basic idea of your speech was involuntary patriotism is a dangerous ideal and must be opposed and further that the system we live in is failing. I could not agree more with the first premise about involuntary patriotism and that is why I was always in supported of the right to burn a private individual’s flag as a means of protest. 

Your means of presenting was great and the background you provided about the case was eye-opening. The (artists) amicus brief you brought planted in my mind that there can be more to a legal argument than well-worded prose and I am sure I will find a way to incorporate that into my practice. It works well with your burning of the flag as both were unconventional arguments that resulted in meaningful change. Your recent personal experiences at the RNC and being arrested a second time for burning the flag was also a great way to show that your fight is just starting. 

When I chose to come to your speech, I was not expecting an all-out attack of the capitalist system or the existence of national borders. I wish I came more prepared for these concepts so I could have asked better questioned or taken better notes. While I am still struggling to establish my political framework, the facts and ideas you presented will provide a great foundation. I will also read more writings by Bob Avakian, as you recommended, just as soon as I can get some time away from my course works.

From a student at Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, Spring 2019

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“It was wonderful! Even if the narrative of the USA being imperialist to the core is not (a) new event within the walls of this school, it is refreshing to see the concept contextualized within the framework of Free Speech and the First Amendment…It also seemed oddly personal for both speakers, which is a welcome change for events such as this,

I found that Mr. Johnson was able to communicate truly radical ideas that are often either neglected or censored in law school, especially with the discussion of imperialism and promoting a socialist vision of the USA. It’s refreshing and transformative. I found that Professor Strossen’s conceptualization of Mr. Johnson’s narrative, and the legal and sociopolitical rationale behind it, to be very fascinating. As always Professor Strossen covers complex ideas in a straightforward manner that does not dilute the complexity of the ideas…”

From a student at New York Law School, Spring 2019

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The American Constitution Society thoroughly enjoyed having Gregory “Joey” Johnson at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. We held a panel, “Free Speech and Social Movements in the Age of Trump,” where Joey was a panelist. As law students, we read about the legal doctrine behind cases but we rarely get to hear from the plaintiffs themselves. Joey provided his captivating story to our audience to give us a more human element to the case of Texas v. Johnson. We also heard from his experience at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Being able to hear his story reminds us all that the principles of the First Amendment, including free speech and the right to protest, are more important than ever, especially in Trump’s America.

A student at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Columbus, Ohio (2017 event)

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Dear fellow law students and professors,

In October 2016 we organized a screening of “William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe” at the University of California, Berkeley and invited Mr. Gregory “Joey” Johnson as a guest speaker. The movie is about the life and works of the criminal defense lawyer and political activist William Kunstler. It shows his work as a lawyer defending activists during the civil rights movement, the Native Americans uprising at Wounded Knee, radical politicians and other controversial clients. Mr. Johnson, who was charged for burning the American flag and represented by Mr. Kunstler in Texas v. Johnson, gave us a great insight into his case and shared his perspective as a political activist and client of Mr. Kunstler. We were very grateful to have Mr. Johnson with us after the screening as many law students felt inspired by Mr. Johnson’s experiences. 

Two students at University of California, Berkeley, Winter 2017

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