And Two Steps Back

News blog of a college student that's too young to know anything.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Republican's New Clothes

Flag Burning Redux
If this is an election year, it must be time to amend the Constitution.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006; A20

WITH CONGRESSIONAL elections coming, the Republican leadership has found a pivotal issue. Terrorism? Hardly. Entitlement reform? Don't be silly. We're talking about the grave threat to America known as flag burning. Yes, that election-year favorite is back: the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States allowing Congress to criminally punish the "physical desecration" of the American national banner. If you haven't noticed a rash of flag-burning incidents sweeping the nation that's because, well, there isn't one. But that doesn't stop Republicans from trotting it out as a more-patriotic-than-thou card.

They are, as always, close to having the votes to send it to the states for ratification. The House of Representatives has passed the measure and the vote will be tight in the Senate, where the Judiciary Committee approved the amendment 11 to 7. We hope the amendment will fall short of the needed two-thirds majority on the Senate floor; it's depressing enough that a majority of senators will support it.

The amendment would soil the First Amendment's command that Congress shall "make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech." Flag burning is an odious form of expression. But there are lots of odious forms of expression the First Amendment protects: Holocaust denial and swastikas, racist rants and giant Confederate flags, hammers and sickles. The amendment's power is in its self-confident sweep: Speech, including expressive acts, will not be censored. Government cannot punish ideas. Members of Congress who would protect the flag thus do it far greater damage than a few miscreants with matches.

Editorial from here.

I think I finally discovered the reason why this is such a big issue (forgive me if it's been known for awhile) : most of the people who want to ban flag burning are usually the ones who are known to hide behind it. Though I can't help but think that even if they are naked and defenseless behind the flag, it would be like a case of the Emperor's New Clothes. When will Bush go proudly parading down the streets naked with everyone laughing. Figuratively I mean, not literally. Eww.

I would probably smile at the idea, but Wal-Mart is trying to get rights to the smiley face, and I don't want to risk trademark infringment.


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