Project: Reader Reaction — Readers divided on flag amendment

A recent Project: Reader Reaction asked residents how they felt about a constitutional amendment co-sponsored by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., that would allow Congress to protect the American flag from acts of desecration.

“I’M A 25-YEAR veteran and served in both Southeast Asia and Korea. I’m a patriot and believe that the symbol of our country and the symbol of freedom the world over should be protected from any act that would disgrace it, desecrate it, or damage it. The American flag represents our history and all those who gave their lives to protect it. It’s a proud flag and were it not for the veterans, another flag could easily be flying over this land. While my service was also to preserve our rights in this country (such as freedom of speech), I think one can take the interpretation of that freedom just a little too far and damaging or destroying our flag does just that. I’m in full support of an amendment to make it a crime in this country to desecrate it.”
— Bob Baker

“I LOVE THE FLAG and this country but an amendment taking away a person’s freedom isn’t the answer. Our Constitution guarantees freedom and should not be turned into a document that denies freedom. Sen. Domenici and the rest of Congress have more important issues they need to deal with — Social Security, Medicare, the national debt or a simplified income-tax code. I wish they would just focus on the real problems (which they created) that not only impact us today but will really impact our children/grandchildren.”
— Auggie Jones

“IT DEFINITELY SHOULD BE against the law (to desecrate the flag)! It’s no more than a piece of cloth, but it represents all that Americans stand for. If you desecrate the flag, then you don’t believe in what it stands for and should find some other country to live in. The state of New Mexico AMVETS (American Veterans) recently sent out a petition to all commanders in New Mexico for signature to send to our representatives. This petition is also in support of the constitutional amendment to protect our flag.”
— Michael Williams

“I’VE ALWAYS LIKED SEN. Domenici, but this is very disappointing. I can’t believe that he and other politicians won’t let this idea die on the vine like a grape that doesn’t measure up to becoming part of a fine wine. This kind of primitive devotion to territorial patriotism is no different than the devotion to fundamental religions which keep people killing each other in the names of their particular gods.
“I am an honorably discharged veteran who loves living in the United States. One of the things I love most is the right to express our opinions in any way we choose that does not impinge on others’ rights. Sen. Domenici’s attempt to regulate the flag is ironic in that it is taking away one of the very rights it is supposed to symbolize.”
— Wendel Sloan

“LET’S ALL BE VERY plain and simple about this — the flag represents our freedom, our respect for our country and the people that fought to make this country what it is today. So if you don’t respect the American flag, find a flag in another country that you respect and move there. We as Americans shouldn’t have to have a law to protect the American flag. We as Americans should take it naturally and make sure no one from any other country comes on our land and desecrates our flag.”
— Steve Gershon

“ALTHOUGH I THINK IT is terrible to burn our flag, it is only a symbol of our country. I recall the words in one of my favorite movies “The American President,” where Michael Douglas basically says that burning our flag in protest of something you consider wrong is part of your freedom of speech. As long as I’m quoting people, how about “I may not agree with what you say (or do), but I’ll defend to the death your right to say (or do) it. That’s what democracy is all about.”
— Jeff Greene

“IT SEEMS THE AMERICAN flag has undergone burnings, desecrations and other indignities for many years. I presumed there were already laws pertaining to our flag regarding these hideous acts. … I personally think an offense against our flag should carry the death sentence, life imprisonment or a loss of all civil rights.”
— H.M. Richards

“I RESPECT THE FLAG as a symbol of our country, but I respect the Constitution as the foundation of our country even more. Once we start eliminating the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, which include literal and metaphorical free speech, then we are on the slippery slope to an un-free nation. We must be careful not to voluntarily give up our rights, otherwise the flag itself will no longer have meaning as a symbol of a free country.”
— Carol Singletary

“HATS OFF TO PETE. The people that don’t like or respect our flag or country are not welcome here anyway. Let them leave.”
— Mearl Thomas

“I THINK CONGRESS, THE president or any other body should not make changes to our Constitution over trivial matters. In recent years there have been too many attempts to add to or take away our liberties granted by this sacred document. Desecration or burning of our flag is surely a disgrace. Those that commit such acts are the losers. They have lost their feelings of love and pride when one salutes and pledges allegiance to the flag of the greatest nation in the world. God bless America, but leave the Constitution alone.”
— Mac McDonald

“I TOTALLY SUPPORT SUCH an amendment. However, with the liberals in Congress and the American Civil Liberties Union does anyone really believe that it will make it out of Congress? And if it does, how many states will ratify such an amendment?
— Charles Hemphill

“WHILE PERSONALLY I AM against anyone disgracing our flag, this is supposed to be a free country where people have the right to express their views, even when they may offend others. Along with a free country, people must be willing to accept responsibility for their comments and actions. I would not be opposed to an amendment; however, if an amendment is passed, what would stop initiative to pass other amendments banning other speech and actions that offend some special group? This is a basic freedom issue and careful consideration and caution must be exercised prior to taking these actions.”
— Bruce Ford

“WE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT from the time we are small that the flag is to be respected and should be handled with love and care. I don’t remember when the flag quit being a symbol of our freedom and everything we have sacrificed to have that freedom. Our enemies have desecrated the flag to show their contempt of America and all those who live here. As an American, I believe in freedom and I believe the flag should represent that freedom. When someone burns or walks on the flag in protest, what is that person protesting? Freedom? When we see the stars and stripes being disrespected, it reflects on every person living in the United States and all those servicemen and women on foreign soil. I say ‘good going’ to Sen. Pete Domenici.”
— Ardyth Elms

“IT’S ABOUT TIME! THE stars and stripes represent a great deal of freedoms for us all. This flag also represents a great number of sacrifices made by countless Americans over centuries to make a better home for all of us. To burn the flag, stomp on it, or otherwise show disrespect to the greatest flag is to show disrespect for all those who sacrificed life and limb for this nation. Think of all the other places we might have had to call home.”
— Frank Dalton

“I AGREE THAT IT should be illegal to desecrate the symbol of freedom that far too many Americans take for granted. People that commit acts of stupidity like that ought to be deported to make more room for the millions of us that appreciate the privilege of living here.”
— Richard Lopes

‘“CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO law … abridging the freedom of speech…’”
— David Burke