Thursday, June 23, 2005
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The House of Representatives today approved an ill-conceived measure giving Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag. They debated whether this would impinge on the Constitution's free-speech protections and decided it would not.
These attempts to protect "Old Glory" go as far back as 1984, when a flag was burned outside the Republican convention in Dallas. Five years later, in 1989, the Supreme Court ruled that a Texas law outlawing flag burning violated the First Amendment's protection of free speech. It came to a vote again in 1995. It always passes the House, and gets hung up in The Senate.
The Senate has defeated the bill previously (narrowly), but this year. . .who knows? We may get the 28th amendment. I don't actually know if it can be challenged in court before it is enacted.
It's not popular with the Republican stormfront, but flag desecration is protected speech and legitimate expression (referring again to the 1989 decision by The Supremes). It's an unhealthy sign that we want to ban it. Someone needs to remind our knuckle-dragging Congress that the flag is a symbol; a symbol of us--We The People. And We The People are strong enough to watch a symbol take a little abuse.
If Congress wants to amend the Constitution, they should repeal the second amendment. The proposed 28th amendment is good for nothing except as salve for our bruised and misdirected jingoistic pride. Attention Gun Nuts: don't write, telling me how many lives guns save. If you want to use your gun, try it out on the man in the mirror.