Freedom Newspapers Syndicate
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday took a step toward limiting the First Amendment by sending to the Senate floor a constitutional amendment that allows Congress to ban flag desecration.
Conservatives have been trying to get the amendment through
Congress since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down flag protection laws in 1989. This time they might succeed.
The House has already approved the measure this term and the Senate will likely vote on it before the July 4 break. Backers believe they are within one vote of the 67 needed for passage and will be putting on the full-court press to get that last vote. After that, it’s in the hands of state legislatures for ratification. Three-fourths of the states must ratify the amendment within seven years for it to become part of the Constitution; not much of a problem since all 50 states have passed non-binding resolutions that favor protecting Old Glory.
But the Stars and Stripes don’t need protecting.
From the beginning of our nation, citizens and troops have rallied ’round the flag. It is a symbol of our country and our society. When people see the red, white and blue, they see the United States. That means different things to different people.
We see the country as our founders saw it: a land of freedom and opportunity. A vital part of that freedom is the freedom to disagree with our neighbors and our government. Disagreement, even contempt, can take many forms, one of which is desecrating the flag that represents what protesters believe is wrong with the country. It’s easy to respect another’s freedom to express what’s on his mind if we agree with him.
True freedom means allowing another to express himself in a way that angers you to your core, and maybe even makes you question your own opinions. That’s why the founders protected that freedom as they did.
Desecrating a flag is little different from burning an effigy of the president. They are both symbols. No one believes an effigy really is whoever sits in the Oval Office. The flag should be no different. It’s not the nation, and destroying one will not destroy the nation.
There are many, especially veterans, who respond that men and women have died for the flag and to allow its desecration dishonors them. We respectfully disagree. They died for the ideals of the nation the flag symbolizes.
To allow those who disagree with our government’s policies to burn a symbol of the nation honors those who have given their lives for it.