A constitutional amendment to ban the burning of the United States flag may have its best chance of being passed in many years. In order for any amendment to the U.S. Constitution to become law, it must pass a series of steep bars: two-thirds approval in the House of Representatives, two-thirds approval in the Senate, and, finally, the ratification of two-thirds (38) of the states.
Today, the House approved the proposed amendment, 286-130.
“It’s going to be really close (in the Senate), within a one- or two-vote margin,” said Terri Schroeder of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has lobbied against the measure. It must also be ratified by the states to become law.
The increasingly conservative nature of the Republican-led, 100-member Senate along with a renewed sense of patriotism fanned by the Iraq war have made proponents optimistic.
I have several strong reactions whenever the subject of an anti-flag burning amendment comes up. The first and strongest reaction I have is that this is a silly issue. Our elected leaders surely must have better things to do with their time (how about Iraq? Seems like that might take up an afternoon or two of not-so-idle deep pondering and debate) than a law etched in stone about lighting up some material that happens to have some colors dabbled on it.
Secondly, however, I’m offended.
I’m offended because I believe the right to free expression is such that we must allow for all non-violent forms of protest – especially those we find most distasteful.
What about burning crosses? What about the Klu Klux Klan?
What about banning white pointy hats?
What about banning placards that read “God Hates Fags”?
How about banning all flags, hats, planks of wood, and placards?
And magic markers, felt-tip pens, and highlighters?
You know, just to be sure.
I consider myself a patriot. I love the flag of the United States, and I get emotional thinking about our soldiers dying to preserve our freedom under its banner.
I love everything that the flag represents, including the freedom of self-expression, assembly, and protest. I love that you’re free to express yourself in the United States in ways that just might piss other people off.
Am I into burning flags? Absolutely not. I find it distasteful, actually.
All the same, I hope this amendment doesn’t pass. And I hope our lawmakers can try and get back to doing something useful for a little while.
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