Jun 27, 2006

On Flag Burning, Desecration, and Unctuous Politicians

burning flag (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.

Nothing more.

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.


Petrograde said...

You have captured the idiocy of this debate better than anyone else I have read, Mike.

Lisa Renee said...

I agree with petrograde, well done.

Now if only they'd listen...

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I have recently written about this very thing twice myself. I agree that we have more pressing matters. This pre-midterm election grandstanding needs to stop and get on with the real business of the people. Flag burning has been ruled by the Supreme Court as freedom of speech...an amendment would be overturned and tax dollars and time are being wasted as some of our representatives make cheap attempts to appeal to the emotions of some voters.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

If they manage to pass an amendment, I'd be the first one to torch a flag, I think...something I've never considered doing before.

Kate said...

You know this reminds me of the last conversation I had with a friend of mine in California.

It went something like this:

"So you agree I have the right to burn the American flag"

Me, "Yes, I don't like it but I'd defend your right to do so"

He, "So what if I come and burn a flag on your front lawn?"

Me, "As in on my lawn? In my own yard?"

He, "Yes."

Me, "Well then I'd have to whip your ass until hell wouldn't have it and send you on home for nursing".


Private property y'know.

-Sepp said...

Here's a solution for all of this. Allow flag burning. And, allow offended persons the legal right to kick the ass of the flag burners without legal repercussions. Burning OUR flag is disgracefull. Stand by the the flag in good times and bad. Fly it upsidedown during times of distress. Burning it means you have no respect for our country or for the people who created it nor, for those who have gave their lives defending it. The flag IS'NT George Bush or, his policies so, burning it is more like stating that you hate our country, our people and, the great ideals it was founded on and IMHO don't deserve the protections it affords you to burn it and then hide behind it at the same time. That offends me. Feel free to post the place, date and time of the next flag burning. I'll be the guy that sprays you with some dry chemical from the fire extinguisher in my trunk all in the name of safety. I'd hate to see a moron light a flag on fire and then wrap himself in it for constitutional protection.

Hooda Thunkit said...

Well done Mike.

I much prefer torching those wasting time discussing this in Washington.

Flaming Politicians...

And Another Thing said...

Well said, sir. Personally I am deeply offended by someone burning our flag. That is an emotional response, and that is exactly what the proponents of this admendment are hoping for.

There are more important issues to address, which of course won't be, but legislation by emotion is not governance.