(Toledo, OH) I watch with disgust as members of the United States Senate waste time trying to outdo each other with versions of legislation concerning the "desecration" of the American flag.
The GOP seeks to get a constitutional amendment banning flag-burning and other physical acts that "desecrate" the flag, while Senate Democrats produced an alternate amendment with similar language.
As an American I have been raised to respect the flag, and I treat my own flag with the honor it deserves. I would never consider burning or marring the symbol most representative of American ideals.
The American flag, however, is not "sacred," and thus cannot be "desecrated." It is a secular icon conceived by political leaders who sought to embody certain philosophical beliefs in an easily recognizable form.
The providential idea that God somehow worked through the fingers of Betsy Ross to create a sacred object in the American flag is derisible, as well as just being bad historical analysis. Religious extremists can believe what they want, but they should not be allowed to hijack the US Constitution for their own delusional fantasies.
If protesters decide that they can best communicate their points with a burning flag, so be it. I will boo them loudly and go about my business knowing that they have likely turned off 95 percent of people who might otherwise listen to what they say.
Moreover, the forbidden fruit syndrome is likely the unintended consequence of banning flag-burning, as the very fact that something is outlawed will, in turn, bring about more of the repulsive behavior.
Much like the failed "Marriage Protection Amendment," the flag protection amendments are the worst sort of cheap electoral politics, and are also of dubious legal standing. Senators, however, are keen to show voters just how patriotic they think they are, rather than addressing the problems for which we ostensibly elected them.
Dear U.S. Senate: Get to work on substantive issues, and cease with the transparent demagoguery. You can best demonstrate your patriotism by acting like responsible legislators instead of mealymouthed rogues.