Sunday, June 26, 2005

Flag Burning Amendment -- A Solution in Search of a Problem

We all knew it was coming. Numerous times over the last few years the Repugnicans in the House have dusted off and trotted out a proposed amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit "desecration" of the flag. In the past cooler heads have prevailed in the Senate and the measure has been defeated.

We can no longer take that for granted. With the GOP victories in the last two election cycles, we are perilously close to Senate approval of this misguided measure.

While it really isn't defined in the bill, everybody knows that "desecration" really means flag burning. Burning a flag. Taking a match and setting fire to a piece of fabric with a symbolic design consisting mostly of stripes and stars.

This is a solution in search of a problem. There have been fewer than 200 documented cases of flag burning in the entire history of the United States. The US Supreme court has upheld flag burning as protected speech (and "speech" does not have to consist of spoken words to be protected by the 1st Amendment).

Now, as everyone who was ever a member of that para-fascist quasi-Hitler-Youth organization known as the Boy Scouts knows, the proper way to dispose of a used, tattered or otherwise non-servicible flag is to ... burn it.

Wait a minute. Are we saying that a boy scout is not desecrating the flag when he burns it, but a war protester is when he does?

Okay then, it seems to me that the only distinction is intent. In other words, what was in the mind of the individual when he torched that flag?

But how can you know? How do you really know for sure? How can you tell that the boy scout isn't in reality a stealthy secret terrorist sleeper cell member lurking in deep cover and working to dismantle our freedoms? Or that he is not just another suburban dork with a bad complexion and mother issues who is secretly getting a semi-orgasmic thrill of giddiness when the flame from the zippo first catches the fabric and the stripes start to smolder?

You can't, and that is one reason among many why this is such a fucked up idea.

The cynical manipulative lying hypocrites don't really give a shit about the flag. They are slinging this out like red meat, to energize the Bobo vote while at the same time trying to paint the Democrats into the "traitor corner" if they refuse to go along with it.

And from the looks of it, it is working. Several otherwise progressive, liberal-minded Democrats jumped on the bandwagon. Including my own congressman.

Fine, Congressman, do what you have to do. I know you have an election to win and you are running scared of the redneck knuckledraggers in this district.

Just one thing: Don't fucking tell me that my friends who were killed in Vietnam died "for the flag".

I can tell you from personal experience, that flag is the last goddam thing on your mind when your friends are shot up on the road to Tay Ninh and all you can do is listen with impotent rage to the ops radio reports of the ambush deaths, or when a bullet out of nowhere rips into the side of the Jeep you are riding in, or when tracer rounds light up the night through the rolls of concertina wire fifty feet in front of your position, or when Cobra gunships with their weapons on full automatic fly so low over you that their ejected shell casings are still hot when they hit your skin...

There will be more on this issue in future posts. Of that I am certain.

2 Comments:

Bryan said...

I guess I need to refresh my memory because the only flags I remember in country were on HQs and coffins.

Before radio flags were important as signals in battle but they been downgraded to a another patch.

I took an oath to the Constitution these people are trying to weaken, not to the flag they want to wear and wave.

Third Base Line said...

When I hear the phrase "desecrating the flag", the first image that pops into my mind isn't protesters burning it, it's some florid, likely drunken fan (of either gender) in a crowd shot at a sporting event wearing a flag-print hat, shirt and/or pants.

The televised image of an exceptionally hefty lady (barely) in a flag-print tube top at a football game last year has actually appeared in some of my less-pleasant dreams since.

The second image that comes to mind when I hear that phrase is, of course, Emperor Shrub.