Thursday, June 23, 2005

A burning issue 

The House on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag, a measure rejected twice by the Senate in the past decade but expected to get a closer vote this year.

By a 286-130 vote - eight more than needed - House members approved the amendment by the required two-thirds majority after a debate over whether such a ban would run afoul of the Constitution's free-speech protections...

Sixty-three senators, four short of two-thirds needed, voted for the amendment in 1995 and again in 2000. With Republicans increasing their majority in last fall's election, activists on both sides of the issue said the amendment has its pass chance ever of passing this year. But a rough count by The Associated Press shows 34 - one more than needed to defeat it - either as having voted against the amendment in the past or committed publicly to opposing it.
If the bill won't get up in the Senate this might all be a moot point, but I'm of two minds on this issue.

On one hand, I understood very well the respect and veneration that the flag deservedly enjoys as a national symbol among the majority of patriotic and fair-minded citizens. And every time I see a home-grown leftie or a resident of the Middle East burning the flag, I think to myself "What a loser."

On the other hand, tolerating losers is the price we pay for freedom of speech. Even with anti-flag desecration laws in place, people will still insist on burning flags, but in addition to revealing themselves publicly as morons, they will at the same time inevitably acquire the aura of martyrs for the freedom of speech.

An argument can be made that people burn American flags because America is great, and one of the reasons that America is great is because people can burn American flags.

Charles Johnson goes against the amendment. I'll be interested to find out how the other bloggers will break on this issue (although, as usual, any real debate will be on the right side of the blogosphere). Your thoughts?


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