Thursday, June 15, 2006

Okay, not to go all serious on you guys, but...

This really, really scares me.

Look, I love my country -- or at least, I love the ideals my country is supposed to stand for. But I don't love seeing those ideals bastardized in the name of "patriotism." I cannot think of a more ironic amendment to add to the Constitution.

I hope the Senate will do the right thing and defeat this. But if we can't trust our leaders to do it, I hope that the people will stand up for their own rights. But I'm not confident -- perhaps Americans will surprise me, but I'm worried. I see far too many people willing to simply give everything over to the government -- money, power, discretion -- so that they just don't have to worry about it anymore.

Ugh. I just. I'll just stop now.


At June 16, 2006 at 1:33 PM, Blogger Cop the Truth said...

I have to disagree on this one... The Supreme Court ruled that burning the flag was free speech, when it clearly is not. Seems like arson and vandalism are more of an action. It's time to amend that flawed ruling. And I think the military folks, the cops, the firefighters, that lie with that flag draped over their coffins have the right to think that the flag they defended will be protected by all of us. We owe them that, at the very least.

At June 16, 2006 at 2:46 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Hi cop, thanks for the visit!

You're correct that burning a flag has action components to it, which is what makes it one of the "fuzzier" areas of constitutional law. But you can't deny the speech component of flag burning -- in fact, your comment demonstrates its powerful speech element. Burning the American flag is importantly different from burning a piece of paper, or some meaningless flag. It sends a message -- maybe it's anti-patriotic, maybe it's anti-administration, maybe it's even anti-troops (although I have yet to meet a person who identifies as "anti-troops" :)). But it does send a powerful message in a way that simple words wouldn't -- kind of like the saying, actions speak louder than words.

I'm not supporting any particular sentiment, but I think that outlawing flag burning is a bastardization of our basic principles of free speech. Free speech as a concept has been watered down and muddied through abusive and laughable interpretation as protecting, for example, sensual stripping. I would be ashamed to live in a country that viewed the objectification of women as a constitutional right, but denied to the people the right to certain forms of protest against the government. Protesting the government is the ONLY thing that makes this country worth living in. Not the money, not the weather, not the movie stars. It's our freedom of speech. It's my freedom to say that the Congress has its head up its ass. The idea that Congress would take away from me the right to express my discontent with it... well, actually, that kinda makes me wanna burn a flag. And I never ever wanted to before.

At June 19, 2006 at 11:14 AM, Blogger John-Michael said...

Umm, a thoughtful debate -- thank your law fairy and cop the truth for modeling and establishing best practices for discussion. Too bad our state, national and business leaders aren't watching.

Burning flags -- nation, organization, cause or otherwise -- is a deed that goes beyond free expression and speech (i.e. one of my favorite expressions summarizes it well, "it has baggage"). Aside from retiring the colors, I cannot think of an appropriate reason to burn the flag. When I see a flag burning, it is alarming and offensive. I cannot support an amendment which suspends my right and voice; moreover, I cannot support an amendment that likens my speech to a criminal act.

In addition, censoring human voices and expression is a slippery, dangerous slope. I'm consciously aware of the merit in the bumper sticker popping up on cars, "It isn't fascism the way we do it!" Of course, it is mocking the neo-conservative era of policy-making. Obviously we are far from Hitler's Nazi fascist 3rd Reich; however, since 2000 there have been times I wonder which direction we are going??

I am opposed to an amendment to the US Constitution banning flag-burning. Censorship is wholly un-American; and fascism is not the organizational system I seek in power. Even acknowledging there will be times when I'm offended and disagree.

At June 20, 2006 at 3:05 PM, Blogger The Law Fairy said...

Hi John-Michael! I love when you visit my blog :)

I think flag burning would disturb me if it was others doing it (e.g., Islamic extremists in the Middle East), but not if it was American protestors. I trust that the American protestors for the most part are angry at the government, rather than their fellow citizens. I don't trust foreign extremists to make that important distinction.

So it is ironic to me that our government wants to silence the people who are far less harmful in the grand scheme of things. If someone is being disorderly or dangerous, obviously it is within the state's power to intervene (this is consistent with current constitutional jurisprudence) -- but the bare symbolism of burning the flag is something that should not be denied to Americans. After all, it is OUR flag, and WE should be the ones who can decide how and when and why to burn it.


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