The Senate, yesterday, fell one vote short of the two-thirds needed to pass a constitutional amendment that says, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States." The House has passed the amendment several times, but the Senate has - so far - refused to approve it. Once both houses of Congress approve of a Constitutional amendment it moves on to the states for approval by the people.
I will agree that flag burning is offensive. I will agree that it is not the most thoughtful or delicate way to express one's opinion or to protest. There are many types of expression that are offensive, but we accept them as part of the cost of free speech.
When the founders enshrined our right to free expression in the first item of the Bill of Rights, they did not put in a requirement that expression be eloquent. They did not say that only those who are polite and inoffensive may redress the government of their grievances. They gave that right to us all, and asked us all to be tolerant of those whose expression is in opposition to our own.
What big problem are we trying to solve here? I think most Americans, and certainly anybody who considers themselves a true conservative, thinks that we have enough laws and regulations already. I believe we should only enact new laws when they are narrowly tailored to solve a specific problem.
Messing with the Constitution is not something to do "for the sake of symbolism." That is - in my opinion - desecration of the worst order.
Senator Dick Durbin, the Democrats' deputy leader, had submitted an alternative amendment which was voted down overwhelmingly. Durbin's amendment would have made it against the law to damage an American flag on federal property with intent of breaching the peace or intimidating other people.
I can appreciate Durbin's attempt here, but would reject it anyway. We already have laws to prosecute those who damage federal property, commit acts of vandalism, make credible threats to others, or incite a riot. These things are already crimes, why do we need a constitutional amendment to enforce them?
Also disappointing here was the number of "Democrats" who went along with this political charade. And, as a Californian, I will not in November forget that Ms. Feinstein co-sponsored this attack on the Constitution.
Hey, Senators, you want to do something about a real problem? You want to do something symbolic to solve a real national embarrassment? How about doing something to help all the U.S. military veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan into homelessness?
Are you as upset about all this as I am? Do you blog about it? Enter your best post into the Carnival of the Decline of Democracy.
Tags: flag burning, free speech, Congress, Constitution, amendment, Senate, desecration