[ Wednesday, June 04, 2003 ]

American flag smoke

Hack, hack, cough, cough, hack, cough.

Sorry, had to clear the lungs there from all the smoke. So many people are burning American flags that the air is filled with smoke for miles. Well, at least that is what the United States House of Representatives apparently would have people believe.

The Republican-controlled Congress voted 300-125 to amend the Constitution in order to criminalize flag burning on June 4. The collective pseudo-patriotic pat on the back marked the fifth time in eight years the same legislative body passed such a proposal. It will also mark the fifth time in eight years the would-be amendment does not become the law of the land when it falters somewhere along the lengthy course mandated for changing the basic framework of American law.

It will fail in part because there is no need for the legislation.

There just are not a whole heck of a lot of flag burning incidents. There certainly are not enough to justify an amendment, which should only be used in bold, sweeping, socially-changing issues like freeing slaves. The flag burning amendment could get ratified tomorrow by people who show the weakness of their own convictions by fearing expression that attacks their beliefs and just about nobody would have their lives changed. Basically flag burning is just a stunt performed by people who tend to not really have much of importance to say if you actually hear them speak.

The act is performed in most cases just to draw attention and upset people, who are so foolish because they don’t understand that many people burn flags just to agitate them. It’s basically the same as Marilyn Manson’s musical career. He performs a lot of his theatrics just to get people upset and talking about him. The same holds true for flag burners. It also holds true for a bunch of Klansmen, who should equally be allowed to burn a cross during gatherings, as long as it is not a case of the individuals setting one on fire and leaving it on a black man’s front yard in order to intimidate him.

A bunch of racists getting together for a meeting in the woods and burning a cross, while spouting an idiotic doctrine, is disgusting, but it should be protected free speech as long as there is no violence supported. In general people like Manson, flag burners and those in the KKK often performer their little stunts because they need the shock value in order to compensate for a lack of an ability to put together deep messages.

Then again, there is no law that says a person has to be profound.

That is not the only problem with proposed flag-burning legislation, though, which would do nothing to address the whoring-out of the flag by businesses that slap it on products to have Fourth of July sales or other events where they attempt to highjack patriotism in order to turn a profit.

Mainly, people are trying to censor a thought with the proposed amendment ... no matter how much they claim otherwise. The proper way to dispose of a flag, according to the United States Flag Code, is to burn it. The two actions are the same. The person looking to show respect for a worn flag sets it on fire to dispose of it. The person looking to make a political statement sets it on fire, too.

The main differences are in the motivation behind it and the person’s thoughts.

And trying to punish somebody for their thoughts and outward expression of those ideas is censorship.

Along with the censoring, there is also the idea that a flag is a symbol. And symbols mean different things to different people. They are not absolutes. People can say the flag represents freedom, justice and all that is right with America. That’s not a law, though. It’s an interpretation of a symbol, which could change in meaning. Symbols do not have to mean the same thing to all people.

Plus, what if somebody rearranges the symbol?

What if somebody took the exact same cloth that was supposed to be used to make a flag and stitched it together in the same pattern, but made a red field, blue stars, and white and blue stripes? Is that still an American flag? Would it fall under the amendment? Is the cloth what the law wants to protect? The color scheme? The pattern?
Dave Sutor [10:56 PM]