Sunday, June 26, 2005

Flag-Burning Amendment

Click here to read an article that I could have written, were I as eloquent.

Over the years I've gone back and forth on this issue. I think I've decided where I, as a political conservative, stand.

Update 6/27/05, 5:55 pm: Let's look at this issue from a liberal vs. conservative point of view.

If it's ok to desecrate the American flag, is it ok to desecrate a Koran?
Is there anything wrong with desecrating a Koran if desecration of the American flag is not outlawed?
Is there anything wrong with desecrating a Koran if desecration of the American flag is outlawed?
Which makes you more upset, watching people burn an American flag or hearing that American interrogators might have treated the Koran with disrespect at Guantanamo Bay?
Does your opinion change when you learn that investigations show that the Guantanamo prisoners themselves did far worse things to their Korans than has been proven against any interrogator or guard?

Consider the word "desecrate". Is it right to desecrate any object?


Octavo Dia said...

It seems to me that flag burning, along with "hate speech", could be reasonably classified under the "fighting words doctrine", meaning that some forms of speech are so inflammatory as to "permit prior censorship of words that create a clear and present danger of inciting an audience to disorder or violence," and are thus not protected by the First Amendment--meaning that a new Amendment is unnecessary.

EdWonk said...

Many folks feel that the amendment is necessary because the unelected and unaccountable brethern of the Supreme Court have specifically said that burning the U.S. Flag is protected 1st Amendment "speech." Thanks to the court, no state, county, or municipality may legislate any type of "flag code" regarding display or use of the flag.

As for amendments, don't worry. We've not passed an new amendment to the Constitiution in nearly 35 years. (I know... the 27th amendment; the one about congressional salaries that was declared ratified in 1992. But that amendment was first proposed in 1789. And congress even sidesteps the intent of that one...)

I'm sure that the present incarnation of the "flag amendment" won't be passed either. EVERY time someone proposes an amendment, there is a chorous of shrill voices that will scream: "We can't tinker with the Constitution."

I really don't think that any additional amendments will be ratified in our (or our children's) lifetimes.

It's because the document is no longer "living" that the Courts now interpret it to mean whatever they please.

And because our elected political masters no longer have the fortitude to actually amend the document in order to use the "check" placed upon the Supreme Court by the founding fathers, the rulings always stand.

Darren said...

While I'm sympathetic to the "them's fighting words" argument, I agree more with the sentiment in the article I linked to. Banning this very infrequent event only emboldens people to do it to get a rise out of us good Americans.

I also agree that if we're going to amend the Constitution, there are more important things to change than this.

Fish said...

Only one Constitutional amendment has ever restricted the freedoms of the individual - the 18th, which was such an unmitigated disaster that it gave us a new wave of organized crime and later had to be repealed.

The lesson is that the Constitution should only be amended to increase the rights of the individual. That's what it was for.

Flag burning needs to be protected speech because those who would ban it are not opposed to the actual burning of the flag, but to the message behind that burning. Ask any Boy Scout or military member how old U.S. flags are honorably destroyed. And don't tell me how those flags are "not the flag anymore" because they are cut into four pieces first.