Thursday, June 23, 2005

Burning Political Issues

The US House of Representatives has approved a constitutional ammendment making it legal for Congress to create a law banning the desecration of our flag. It now has to be approved by the Senate and states.

Some links:
Yahho News
Flag Burning FAQ

This has happened in the past, but each time the Senate has overturned it. Many observers expect this time around to be different. For example, 49 of the 50 states (thank you, Vermont, and fuck you, New Hampshire - live free indeed) have expressed non-binding support for this amendment.

Regardless of how you feel about burning the flag in protest, let's look at some facts:
  • The Constitution has been in effect since 1789
  • It has been amended only 18 times in those years (the first ten amendments arrived all at once)
  • In the past century, only 12 amendments have passed. These include our system of taxation, women's rights, and various voting and representative technicalities.
  • Two of those amendments "cancel each other out" -- Prohibition and its removal.
  • The flag is already hevaily protected: you cannot even use in it advertising (someone tell car dealers this, please).
  • Congress estimates 7 flags are burned in protest each year.
  • Our elected representatives do not have the power to tell us what to hold sacred.
  • Most flags that are burned are burned in protest of flag-burning laws.
  • A theoretical law protecting the flag will be impossible to enforce equitably.
  • Our "old" laws against flag-burning were terribly written and we cannot assume new ones will be better.
In summary, our elected representatives feel it is worth modifying the founding document of our nation in order to make illegal something which happens, according to their own estimates, seven times a year. They further willingly walk into the minefield of legislation of religion, as they take on the task of defining the sacred and punishing those who disagree (see: Jehovah's Witnesses, who refuse to hold the flag sacred due to strict interpretations of Biblical prohibition of "idolatry").

I'll wrap this up by stating that I feel this is the single most frightening step this administration has taken against our freedoms, and that's saying a lot (USA PATRIOT act, anybody?). If we do this, we create a nation where it is now actually possible to commit a thought crime.

Let me put it this way. Our Contitution is more sacred than our flag, and our nation as a whole will desecrate it by passing this amendment. That desecration is not worth the benefit of giving our cops another way to harass the dirty hippies whose flag-burning protests don't convince anybody of anything anyway.

I'm ashamed of every single vote in favor of this amendment.

1 comment:

Dave said...

As linked by ars:

A quote: "Banning flag desecration flatters the desecrators and suggests that the flag of this great republic is a wee delicate bloom that has to be protected. It's not. It gets burned because it's strong .... If you can't stand the heat of your burning flag, get out of the superpower business."