Flag Burning

According to the AP, the House has passed another flag burning amendment. The prospects of the amendment passing the senate are greater this year than previously.

It very much saddens me to see such Anti-American policies get so much political support. This amendment is getting passed not because the American Flag needs to be protected from being burned “unpatriotically” but because the State wants to oppress citizens who disagree with its policies. We fought a revolution to criticize the State, and now our politicians are turning their back on it.

Desecration of the flag occurs everyday and not by anti-government protestors. I know of very few people out side the military who know and follow proper flag etiquette. The people most likely to consider themselves “True Patriots” desecrate the flag by not following proper etiquette. You desecrate the flag when you

  1. fly it in the dark.
  2. fly it in the rain.
  3. fly an old flag that should be retired.
  4. wear the flag as clothing.
  5. use it as a stamp.
  6. use it on paper plates or napkins.
  7. fly it below another flag.
  8. display it horizontally at football games.
  9. use it in advertising.
  10. etc.

However, you won’t see politicians ever trying to criminalize people who do these things because they really don’t care about the flag. What they care about is people who are vocally oppose their politics. According to the dissenting opinion in the committee report:

The history of the prosecution of flag desecration in this country bears out these very warnings. The overwhelming majority of flag desecration cases have been brought against political dissenters, while commercial and other forms of flag desecration have been almost completely ignored. An article in Art in America points out that during the Vietnam War period, those arrested for flag desecration were “invariably critics of national policy, while ‘patriots’ who tamper with the flag [were] overlooked.”

I’ll leave you with the statements of Congressman Nadler of New York:

Let there be no doubt that this amendment is aimed at persecuting ideas. Current Federal law says that the preferred way to dispose of a tattered flag is to burn it. But there are those who would criminalize the same act of burning the flag if it is done to express political dissent. The same act would be a crime under this amendment if done for purposes of saying I disagree with whatever-I-disagree-with, as opposed to for some other reason. The same act. So what’s really being criminalized is not the act, but the expression of the idea. That’s why the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. Current Federal law, which is constitutionally void, makes it a misdemeanor to use the flag for advertising or on packaging. How many Members of Congress, used car dealers, attendees at the Republican National Convention the last few times, fast food restaurants and other seemingly legitimate individuals and enterprises have engaged in this act, have used the flag for advertising or on packaging, have put them on slippers and clothes–an act which our laws define as flag desecration? This amendment would presumably make that law constitutional once more. If ratified, I think there are more than a few people who will have to redesign their campaign materials to stay out of the pokey.

(Congressional Report p 17)

Sent by stranger fruit on June 23, 2005 5:05 PM

I see that the House - having I guess solved all the real problems in this country - yesterday voted (286/130) to support an amendment to ban flag-burning. The proposed one-line amendment to the Constitution reads, "The Congress shall have power to pro... [Read More]

Sent by Stranger Fruit on May 28, 2006 2:55 PM

Apparently Bill Frist has decided that constitutional ammendments against flag-burning and gay marriage are vital to national well-being. Speaking on Faux News, Frist was asked: HOST: Are gay marriage and flag burning the most important issues the Sena... [Read More]

Posted by RPM on June 23, 2005 11:40 AM

This is a major issue for the American Legion. I remember that in order to go to Boys State, we all had to answer a question on what we thought about flag desecration. If you differed from the American Legion position, you had to rewrite your answer so that it fit within their framework. Of course, they don’t opposed flags on stamps, clothing, etc, but are ardently opposed to flag desecration as protest.

Posted by Mandi on June 29, 2005 8:48 PM

In the 60s, my uncle got kicked out of the National Honor Society for wearing jeans with a flag on the back pocket. So, I boycotted NHS when they invited me to join. Aren’t I cute when I’m an activist?
Also, I think it’s ironic that the proper way to dispose of a worn out flag is to burn it. So the law would have to explicitly apply only to flag burning used for political speech.

Posted by GerryL on July 3, 2005 9:39 PM

Last Sunday (6/26) the Oregonian printed my comment on this subject:

If Congress votes to “prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States,” will all those SUV drivers with soiled and tattered flags flapping on their antennae be arrested?

The (progressive) vets group I am in is VERY concerned about this issue.

-Gerry L

Posted by Reed A. Cartwright on July 5, 2005 12:47 AM

I think people flying soiled and tattered flags is the descration that I dislike the most.