Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Put another right on the barbie

In 1989 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Texas v. Johnson that Texas state law criminlizing desecrating the American flag was unconstitutional. Justice William Brennan, wrote "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable...We have not recognized an exception to this principle even where our flag has been involved."

A former Democratic Congressman (thank god he's former) Douglas Applegate (D-OH) had the money quote about the Supreme Court's decision when he said the ruling was "the greatest travesty in the annals of jurisprudence." Worse than Dredd Scott? Worse than "Separate but equal?" Rep. Applegate also asked, "Are there any limitations? Are they going to allow fornication in Times Square at high noon?" If they are we either need to do a pay-per-view or draft another constitutonal amendment banning it.

The hysteria continues to this day as today the U.S. House of Representatives will likely approve by an overwhelming vote a constitutional amendment that would outlaw debasing ther American flag. While this has been passed before the difference is that the Senate may actually pass it too. Sen. Hillary ('08) Clinton says she is "studying the issue." Since a majority of Americans favor the amendment and avoiding being labeled "anti-American" I have a strange feeling Hillary will "reluctantly" vote to protect the flag so as to protect her '08 run.

Representative Gary L. Ackerman, Democrat of New York, said in a speech on the House floor, wearing a flag-print necktie, "The Constitution this week is being nibbled to death by small men with press secretaries." He's right. If school kids refuse to recite the Pledge of Allegiance are they being disrespectful? Is that desecration? The difference between buring the flag out of protest and to dispose of it respectfully after it has been damaged or soiled is merely a matter of intent. And yet the same people who are against hate crime laws because they add an element of intent to commit a "thought crime" are for the flag burning amendment which based on intent.

In 1989, a columnist in the The Christian Science Monitor wrote, "Can we legislate reverence? And even if we could, do we want to perpetuate the trend, so evident in late-20th-century America, toward more and more laws reaching into areas that once were defined, and policed, by local mores and customs? Are we content to replace the inner restraints of ethics with the outer restrictions of legality? If we are, we've missed the point. Patriotism lives through substantive ideas, not just symbolic objects. Protect the substance, and the symbols will take care of themselves."

But it's easier to protect the symbols rather than the substance, or the ports, or the borders or chemical plants, or nuclear plants or humvees...


Post a Comment

<< Home