Thursday, June 23, 2005

Do We Need a "Flag-Burning Amendment"?

As the Congress mulls over whether the Constitution ought to be amended to ban flag-burning (in Congress-ese, "mull" means to see which way the wind is blowing before voting in your personal best interest with the voters), the StoptheACLU blogburst has been asked to weigh in today on the issue, so here goes.

As most of you probably already know, the ACLU is bitterly opposed to banning flag-burning as a means of expression, and many on the right are equally vehement about putting a stop to what they see as desecration of a near-sacred symbol. Where do I stand? Last week I had this to say about flag-burning: "You probably shouldn't be holding your breath waiting for an invitation to dinner at my house, but as long as you burn flags you purchased and do it away from me, knock yourself out. Flag burning says more about you than it does about anything else, anyway."

That's what I believe...I think if you burn the flag you are demonstrating, for the world to see, that you are pretty much a brainless fool. No one's going to follow you, or run to your"cause", or drink your kool-aid because you're a flag-burner. Maybe you'll get 10 seconds on the news in Poughkeepsie if nothing else is going on, and you might hit the networks if you accidentally burn yourself to death while dumping gas on the flag, but that's it. You're just another fool in a long line of fools.

As you can tell, in general I am not one to get all "whupped up" about flag-burning, any more than I think it is reasonable to start riots or kill people over rumors of "koran desecration." One is a piece of material, one is a book. Somebody asked over at Daisy Cutter awhile back, "would you desecrate a Bible if you knew it would save a life?" My answer? Sure, without a second thought. Hurting a symbol can't change me--destroying my symbols debases you, not me.

So ordinarily, I would not be in favor of a Constitutional amendment to outlaw flag burning, except for this: The ACLU and others of their ilk have turned it into a free-speech issue, and have therefore left those who feel more strongly about it than I do with no other choice.

Don't blame those in favor of an amendment for this turn of events. If the liberals had left well-enough alone, this could easily have been handled by local ordinances, which was originally what was happening. I believe that, if there are sufficient people in a community who find flag-burning offensive, the issue of whether flags can be burned ought to be the peoples' decision, not the ACLU's. You want to burn a flag on Ted Kennedy's front lawn? He's probably OK with that, go ahead. You want to burn a flag in the middle of Parris Island? Probably not such a good idea. It's not as though we don't regulate other acts that are arguably "expressive." You can't expose yourself in public and urinate on something, although that might "express" your feelings.

I don't believe the First Amendment was intended to protect flag burning--but since the courts, with the ACLU's urging, have taken that position, I guess we'll see how the American people really feel about it.

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