I admit to having varied thoughts with regard to the free speech versus protecting our national emblem from being burnt aspects of the “protest” burnings of the American flag.
Men and women have bled and died for our flag, from the time when our fledgling nation did not have a single standard, but several, to the present day and the present conflicts of the Long War on Terror. Yet it was not a scrap of red, white, and blue cloth these men and women sacrificed, but what that cloth represents. For anyone to burn a flag of the United States of America, except as the proscribed method of taking said flag out of service, dishonors the memory of those men and women.
The other side of my mind, however, screams that the protest burning is the kind of freedom those sacrifices were made for. Quite the contest of ideals raging in my grey matter.
Yet another reason to love the Internet: if you wait long enough, someone’s going to come along and say what it is you want to say, only better.
To tell you the truth, I’m not that crazy about such a constitutional amendment, for the simple reason that flag-burning is unique in the annals of protest for the way in which it perfectly encapsulates what a jerk the person burning the flag is. It is auto-discrediting in a way that no placard or chant, however idiotic, can equal. To set fire to the national emblem of a country that allows you to say and do as you please, including burning the national emblem, is to make the point that your freedom is so visceral a part of your nature that you are oblivious to it. It doesn’t reflect well on you to be oblivious in this fashion, but it reflects well on your country for how deeply it ingrains the spirit of freedom into those lucky enough to live here.
That said, the last thing that a constitutional amendment banning flag-burning strikes me as is a slippery slope toward broader restriction on freedom of expression.
Besides, our nation has more important things to worry about, like stopping radical Islamists from popping a nuke in one of our major metropolises. I don’t think a majority of voters, while perhaps concerned one way or the other on the flag-burning issue, have it ranked as a high priority. It’s more of a “when the jihadists are all dead or in prison” sort of issue.posted on July 4, 2006 12:23 AM