~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I O 93 93/93 I O ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More on flag burning

I don't burn the flag. I don't like the thought of others burning the flag. But I honestly can't get so worked up I'd support banning the act itself.

Klansmen who burn a cross on the lawn of a black church aren't guilty of burning a sacred symbol. They're guilty of the crime of intimidation. And they should be aggressively chased down, arrested and prosecuted for their crime. Similarly, protesters burning the flag at highly charged street demonstrations aren't guilty of desecration. They're guilty of inciting a riot, and should be just as aggressively prosecuted.

Protecting the symbol in either case must take a backseat to prosecuting the, you know, actual crime. The fire involved in both examples is incidental. So I don't see the value of a constitutional amendment protecting the flag as a symbol .

The proposed amendment is more, um... complicated than my analysis, of course. For instance, the editors of National Review see it as a chance to chastise the Supreme Court for power grabbing throughout recent years.

A constitutional amendment would not be our first choice for a response to the Court’s mistake. A statute to remove the issue from the federal courts, and thus restore state autonomy on the issue, would correct the error without requiring the Constitution to take notice of it. But the arguments against an amendment are weak, and their weaknesses help to make the case for it.


It is precisely the defiance the amendment represents — a defiance on behalf of self-government — that recommends it to us.

I'm just as concerned about judicial overreach as the editors of National Review. But, dammit, incitement is already illegal. This proposed amendment would give Congress the power to make crying flag! in a burning movie theater illegal and that's just silly.

(I'm treading as lightly as I can here. For the record, while I believe the parallel between the cross and flag as symbols to be appropriate, my implied parallel between the crimes of intimidation and simple incitement is greatly mismatched. No analogy is perfect. I hope I've made the distinction clear.)

UPDATE: Failed by one vote. I like to think my own Senator was the one.

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