July 3rd, 2006

Protect and Honor Our Flag

Happy Independence Day, America!

Ben Stein recently published this article about the recently-voted-on Constitutional amendment to protect Old Glory.

He raises some excellent points. Critics of the amendment argue that it is free speech, and it is. However, our laws put constrictive limitations upon “free speech”, such as sexual harassment and racial slurs. So why shouldn’t we put a similar limitation upon the burning of our Flag, a national symbol of freedom and independence?

To those who don’t wish to pledge allegiance to our Flag or protect it from vitriolic acts of burning and similar desecration, I ask you: why are you in America? Why do you treat America’s symbols with such disregard and contempt? You are granted certain freedoms in this country, and you have every right to disagree with the government’s laws, policies, and issues. But those freedoms are provided to you because of the sacrifice and service of those who have given their all to defending our Flag. I call upon you to show reverence and respect for the symbols of our free nation.

4 Responses to “Protect and Honor Our Flag”

  1. July 5, 2006 at 8:29 am #

    Connor,

    The reason we place limitations on some speech – such as sexual harassment and racial slurs (your examples) – is because these kinds of speech quite obviously do harm to others. Burning a flag, on the other hand, just as clearly harms no one. That’s the difference. That’s why burning the flag should be protected under the First Amendment, while other more harmful forms of free speech should not. It’s pretty simple. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but frankly I’m a little surprised this significant difference hadn’t occurred to you.

    Another point: Accusing the other side of failing to “show reverence and respect” for the flag is a very poor tact for winning this debate. If I’m not mistaken, there are only a handful of flag-burnings each year, which means that roughly 99.999999% of those who, unlike you, believe that flag-burning should remain legal are already respectful of the flag. Including myself. To suggest otherwise only debases your argument, making it both demeaning and simultaneously unconvincing.

  2. Connor
    July 5, 2006 at 8:50 am #

    The ‘significant occurence’ had occurred to me. In Ben Stein’s article he addresses this very aptly: racial slurs offend the victims of the words; sexual harassment offends the victim of those words, likewise; and the burning of our nation’s symbol offends, more likely than not, those who have sacrificed their all in giving service to what that symbol stands for. If I were in the military I think my blood would boil if I saw somebody disrespecting the flag in such a manner.

    Now, do I think that there should be a constitutional amendment to prevent this from happening? No. I liken this to a child raising a parent. The more rules the parent imposes, the more rebellious and upset the child becomes, feeling so restricted. Instead, the child should be raised in such a way where he/she naturally obeys the precepts of those rules without having each one deliniated and enforced. Similarly, we shouldn’t need an amendment and a law for every nit-picky little thing. As you said, there aren’t that many people that burn the flag (other than retiring it). So, I don’t really support the amendment as it stands. I do think, however, that we need more people to respect and reverence the flag. If you claim that 99.99999% of people already do so, then great. But that does leave 0.00001% of people who need to change.

  3. July 5, 2006 at 1:02 pm #

    OK, For a moment, let’s accept Stein’s (absurd) premise that burning a flag somehow injures patriots. I have some questions for Stein:

    1. By the same logic, shouldn’t it be illegal to burn the constiution? Or a book of federal or state law?
    2. Shouldn’t it be illegal to burn the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Koran and/or “Dianetics” by L. Ron Hubbard?
    3. Assuming that burning a paper flag is just as injurious as burning a cloth one, shouldn’t it be illegal to draw a flag on paper and then burn it?
    4. If I draw my flag with only forty-nine stars (rather than fifty) and then burn it, should that be illegal, or not? What about a simple set of red and white lines, but without the blue field and stars? Is it illegal to burn that? How vaguely flag-like does something need to be in order to trigger the new law? Should it be illegal to burn a red-white-and-blue pepsi can?
    5. If a used car salesman places an American flag in his ad, and the ad is inserted into my Sunday paper, am I breaking the law if I use the newspaper to start my July 4th barbecue?

    Answers To All Questions: No. Flag-burning should obviously not be prohibited by law. It is precisely the kind of non-violent political speech that the Founding Fathers intended to protect when they wrote the First Amendment.

    I’m glad to hear you and I are on the same side in the debate, but someone needs to point out to Stein the absurd logic of his position – and Orrin Hatch’s for that matter, who claimed on the Senate floor that this was the single most important issue that our Congress could possibly be debating at this moment. What poppycock.

  4. Connor
    July 5, 2006 at 1:12 pm #

    Laurence,

    I agree. We don’t need more laws to regulate things like this. We instead need people to change their inner vessels so that showing respect and reverence is something they choose to do of their own free will and accord.

    Ultimately, the only way to address issues such as these is not through legislation or war, but through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Thanks for your comments.

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