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Wednesday, June 14, 2006 

Flag Day and Flag Burning

As the clock ticked past midnight, it officially became Flag Day. In honor of this holiday, I bring you a two part post. First, here is an interesting video of Rick Monday of the Chicago Cubs in 1976.

Two weekend revolutionaries jumped onto the field during a Dodger game to burn a flag. Get a hobby, fellas. Monday ran at them, grabbed the flag before the match ignited it, and the hippies were escorted from the field. Good, clean family fun for all.

Second, it appears that Congress is ready to re-re-re-visit the Flag Burning Amendment. The support for the amendment seems to be strong, and it still maintains a majority support among the American people according to Gallup...
The divisions on the issue are not entirely partisan. Activists count 14 Democrats among the 66 proponents, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California. Of 34 senators believed to oppose the amendment, three are Republicans, including Majority Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Meanwhile, the Gallup organization pegged national support for a flag amendment at 71 percent in 1989 but found support had slipped to 63 percent by 1999, and to 55 percent by last summer.
The Supreme Court has ruled on whether flag burning is protected speech. In a 5-4 decision, the Justices said that it was. This amendment would let Congress enact laws that prohibit desecration of the flag.

I've talked about flag burning on here before, but I think that the pending amendment demands another look at the issue. I think Rick Monday was right to stop those two morons from burning the flag. However, I think he was right because they had no right to jump out onto the field, interrupt the game, and potentially damage the outfield. Here I am, quoting myself on the issue...
Personally, I think that burning the American flag is an abhorrent, disgusting act usually done by attention whores who are willing to do anything to get a TV camera focused on themselves. Even so, I think that the amendment is a bad idea.

One problem is enforcement. What exactly qualifies as "an American flag"? Is it just the standard size flag or all sizes? Does it have to be flag-like in appearance or can it be in some other form, like a picture of the flag on a poster or an image of the flag on a shirt? What if a similar flag that looks almost exactly like the American flag is burned? Does that count too? These are court battles waiting to happen, and will probably end up with a more scatter brained set of rulings than our Free Exercise and Establishment Clause jurisprudence.

Another problem is the free speech issue. I think that free speech and expression are important parts of the foundation of this country. As I have said, I think flag burning is disgusting. That's also why I like the fact that it's legal. If you burn the American flag, you are sending a clear message to me about yourself. I will make my personal judgment about you accordingly. I would rather have that information (knowing who the flag burning types are) than not know. I believe that you have the freedom to burn the flag, and I also have the freedom to think that you are a scumbag for doing it.
Part of the First Amendment is putting up with speech that you don't like. I think that the speech/conduct/symbolic speech line is very blurry at times, especially on this issue. I'm angered when I see someone burning a flag, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be allowed to do it. I'd still say no to the amendment if I had a say in the matter.

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About me

  • I'm Steve
  • From Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
  • "There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." P.J. O'Rourke
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