Thursday, June 23, 2005

 

Final Straws

The So-Called Flag Burning Amendment

Once again the U.S. House of Representatives has passed the so-called ‘Flag Burning’ Amendment, and I find my disillusion with the GOP majority slowly tipping from disappointment to seething rage. Why? At a time when our nation is at war, when our economic security is threatened by formidable economic challengers (namely China), when Islamic radicals have targeted us for death, when oil prices are at near record highs, Congress chooses to resort to the most base political maneuver rather that address the many challenges facing our country.

What’s even more frustrating is that the amendment is much broader than the media would have us believe, banning not flag burning per se (it isn’t even mentioned), but rather flag desecration, a much more ambiguous and politically mischievous standard.

The language of the Amendment reads:

The Congress and the States shall have power to prohibit the act of desecration
of the flag of the United States and to set criminal penalties for that act

And if you need a refresher: desecrate means:

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=Desecrate&x=0&y=0

So what’s my beef? Plenty.

First off, the flag is a symbol, nothing more. To say the soldiers in Iraq (or worse [see 3rd paragraph]) http://www.cnsnews.com/news/viewstory.asp?Page=%5CPolitics%5Carchive%5C200506%5CPOL20050622d.html

died to protect our flag is probably the biggest insult to the brave men and women who are fighting for us. They are fighting to protect our freedom, our economy and our ideals, not to defend the integrity of a cotton polyester flag that was made in China, or better yet in U.S. Federal Prisons by convicts that get paid $0.20/day.

Worse still…what is desecration? In today’s victim centered society, just about any group can lay claim that some one else’s use of the flag somehow denigrates it. On the left, you’ll have groups claiming the Focus on the Family’s use of the flag in their marriage initiative efforts promotes discrimination and thus transmutes, for gay men and women, the flag into a symbol as vile as the confederate flag. On the other side, you’ll have the James Dobson’s of the world saying that the rainbow colored American flag used as a symbol of the gay community promotes a ‘deviant and unhealthy lifestyle” and is a desecration of our beloved symbol. What about women’s soccer star Brandi Chastain, her athletic bosom and glistening sports bra wrapped in the stars and stripes to celebrate winning the world cup? (Is it getting warm in here?) Pick any issue, the war, minimum wage, trade…there are always two sides to the coin and those scrupulous enough to exploit it. After all who would have thought that in 2004, religious leaders would be denying us communion based on whom we voted for.

The net result of this effort is a nation less united, one where ideologues, liberal or conservative, compete for controlling rights to one of our national symbols. I can picture the fundraising letters now,

Dear Elephant:

Just send us a contribution and we’ll make sure (insert your ideological enemy here) can’t continue to desecrate our grand old flag.”

It also begs the question of how and who will enforce the flag desecration law?

Do our local police spend time (from their busy duties of fining us for smoking in restaurants, talking on our cell phones in our cars, or not wearing our seatbelts) hunting down rainbow flags and miss-hung bunting?

What if I desecrated a flag that had 48 stars and 10 stripes?

A flag with the colors reversed?

Would this be illegal? http://www.criminalgovernment.com/docs/rel/bush_desecrates_us_flag.jpg

Or this?
http://www.queenconnection.com/images/Arena%20Blouses/HH020400.jpg

Or this?
http://www.thinkingknitter.com/Images/FlagSockWeb.jpg

Or perhaps this?
http://www.ironmikesmx.com/images_listings/P1020824.JPG

Or even….
http://portland.indymedia.org/icon/2004/04/285992.jpg

How I long for the days of divided government - one party in the White House and one controlling congress. Clinton may have been a letch, but the dynamic between him that the leadership of the GOP led to some of the last great pieces of public policy we’ve seen. Remember a balanced budget or welfare reform?

I had such high hopes for the GOP super majority. But all I got was $2 trillion dollars more debt, $2.50/gal gas, a just, but poorly planned war and a bunch of arrogant politicians who forgot why they got elected.

My education gives me an understanding of such political machinations, but I don’t have to like it.

Comments:
You make several good points. I had simply thought it an pointless political ploy. I mean, it is not like there is an epidemic of flag-burning in our country. It's a symbol, yeah, but most Americans like what it represents too much.

So I've been thinking of this amendment like burning money, which according to Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code is also illegal. You know, like: "Who actually does that?" But you make an excellent point in the ambiguity inherent in saying "desecration".

I doubt many people are going to point that out, especially with media going on about it being a "flag-burning" amendment, which will doubtlessly create the impression that burning is all it stops...the same impression I had before your post, E.
 
The devil is always in the details...
 
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