I'm inspired by congress's latest resolution to adopt a constitutional amendment to outlaw "physically" desecrating the American flag. I assume the sponsors are thinking about people who burn the flag as a symbolic expression of dissent. At least, I can't imagine them wanting to prosecute some boy scout who accidentally drops the thing as he tries to fold it into the perfect red white and blue as opposed to pink triangle. They certainly didn't mean Mary Carey, the porn star gubernatorial candidate as opposed to the steroid using, trash movie starring, governor, who wore a dress to republican fundraiser that was designed around stars and stripes decolletage. As far as I know, the party accepted her donation. They probably aren't targetting things like flag napkins, bumper stickers, or advertisements.
It's really only symbolic speech that seems to matter here, sort of like an annex to the first amendment. Congress shall make no law that abridges freedom of speech unless it's symbolically critical of the current administration.
All in all, I think this notion of annotating the Bill of Rights isn't a bad idea. The Founding Fathers certainly left considerable ambiguity.
For instance, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Obviously someone might read that and wonder if they really meant give automatic weapons to any wacko who has the money. It makes sense to anyone that that would be part of a well regulated milita. In fact, I understand that military recruiters have gotten so desperate for fodder that they are starting to overlook minor items like mental health histories. So, let's say an amendment 2a that says "congress shall make no law abridging the power fo the NRA to influence elections."
And this abortion thing. Nothing in the Bill of Rights even seems to contemplate banning them. Even worse, there's this weird penumbra of rights (note that it's a penumbra not a vagumbra), which sounds vaguely sexual anyway, allegedly implied by the constitution. It seems simple enough, Amendment 4A might say something like "Abortion needs to be illegal, but viagra should be advertised on tv at any time, and sex education and information about contraception should never be publicly distributed despite the first amendment. Oh, and by the way, none of this gay marriage stuff. That's immoral. Just ask the mayor of Spokane."
The document is more than 200 years old, a little updating wouldn't hurt it.
I am also interested in the very careful distinction the House made to limit it to "physical" desecration of the flag. Is it because they worried that someone might try to prosecute people for some real desecration of the flag?
1) Lying to the American people and starting a war that kills tens of thousands of people. It's really pretty simple as far as I'm concerned. When the Bush twins enlist and go to Iraq, I'll believe that the president truly believes that this war is critical. If you're a Christian, you know that sacrificing your own children would have been the Godly thing to do.
2) Holding a midnight session of congress to pass Terri's law as a cheap publicity stunt for a woman who had no medical hope of recovery. Well, Dr. Frist thought she did, but then he insisted that he never said that, until they showed him the tape of his saying that.
3) Re-editing government studies to soften warnings about environmental dangers.
4) Running uncontrolled deficits that risk leaving all our children behind.
5) Keeping people from voting, but apologizing for that lynching thing a hundred years ago. Talk about a senate that reacts swiftly and has no fear of doing the right thing, so what if they did it by voice vote for some reason.
So, if you want to talk about desecrating the flag, let's have a serious discussion of what it means to desecrate the flag.
I still also have this odd question. What happens if various terrorist groups start reading this proposed legislation? Could you imagine the dilemma if they say started covering themselves and all their camps in the American flag? I could see the American commander.
"Well, the attorney general says it's okay to torture them, but gee....we can't blow up a flag, that would be un-American. I guess we'll have to pass."
"Yes sir, you're absolutely right. Only scoundrels would cover themselves in the flag. True patriots honor what it stands for, they don't hide behind it."
Labels: flag amendment