Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Flag burning amendment defeated

Via Ed Brayton, Flag amendment apparently stalls in Senate. The amendment failed to pass by one vote. I'm happy it did.

I love seeing the flag flying. I'm very particular about how I fly it too - I don't fly it at night unless it's illuminated, I don't fly it in the rain, and so on. I love facing the flag and singing the National Anthem - one of my most powerful memories is going to my parents' church on Sept. 12, 2001 and singing "The Star Spangled Banner." The flag symbolizes a lot of very precious ideals for me. But ultimately the flag is just a piece of cloth - the flag is not the same thing as the ideals the flag represents. Those ideals and freedoms are more precious than the flag. Burning the flag disgusts me, but my feelings are irrelvent. I don't have the right not to be offended, and neither does anyone else.

I think this amendment and the utterly despicable Gay Marriage amendment were attempts by Congress to distract Americans. In the case of the Gay Marriage amendment I view it as an attempt by the Republicans who control Congress to distract us from corruption scandals like Tom Delay's. In the case of the Flag Burning amendment I think it was a multilateral attempt to appeal to people's emotions so that when election day runs around the politicans can distract us with claims to be "Patriotic Americans" (or more importantly to avoid handing a potential weapon to their opponents who'd say "Don't vote for so-and-so because they hate America). Good PR was more important than taking a potentially unpopular (but very just) stand even if that meant degrading our liberty. I don't know how Congress prioritizes the things they decide to work on, but I don't think they're doing a good job.

I agree with you. One of the foundational elements of our Bill of Rights is the ability to freely criticize our own government. My upbringing has taught me to have an immense respect for our flag and the country it represents. I find burning the flag as protest to be quite distasteful, but the ability to do so is protected by our Constitution. It is perhaps ironic that outlawing flag burning as a form of protest would diminish the very flag the law seeks to protect.

Also, kudos to Sen. Bennett (R-UT) for voting against this amendment, even in the face of serious criticism from Sen. Hatch.

To quote from The Simpsons:

I'm not garbage.
I'm an amendment to be.
Yes, an amendment to be.
And I'm hoping that they'll ratify me.
There's a lot of flag burners
Who have got too much freedom.
I want to make it legal for policemen to beat 'em.
'Cause there's limits to our liberties.
'Least I hope and pray that there are.
'Cause those liberal freaks go too far.

Boy: But why can't we just make a lawagainst flag burning?

Amendment-to-be: Because that law would be unconstitutional. But if we changethe Constitution...

Boy: Then we could make all sorts of crazy laws.

Amendment-to-be: Now you're catching on.
I really dislike pandering.
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