In even numbered years, Republicans attack the Constitution. Having failed to write homophobia into the Bill of Rights, Republicans are reduced to making their biennial appeal for a partial repeal of the First Amendment. When Democrats are dared to support the rights of (relatively rare) flag burners, they need to make clear that it is the Constitution they support.
Once again, we round up the commentaries that denounce this nonsense:
Bob Kerrey in the Washington Post. If our First Amendment is altered to permit laws to be passed prohibiting flag desecration, would we like to see our police powers used to arrest an angry mother who burns a flag? Or a brother in arms whose disillusionment leads him to defile this symbol of the nation? I hope the answer is no. I hope we are strong enough to tolerate such rare and wrenching moments. I hope our desire for calm and quiet does not make it a crime for any to demonstrate in such a fashion. In truth, if I know anything about the spirit of our compatriots, some Americans might even choose to burn their flag in protest of such a law.
Center for American Progress. In a statement sent to Congress, the former assistant secretary of defense and retired naval officer [Lawrence J. Korb] says that if the purpose of the so called flag burning amendment to the Constitution is to honor those in uniform, then Congress would do better to address the failings of the Bush administration to support current and future veterans.
The Detroit Free Press. The best tribute that Old Glory could be afforded on this Flag Day would be for Congress to leave intact the freedoms for which it stands.
Terre Haute Tribune Star. In a column on the subject by Nat Hentoff published last month, the nationally renowned defender of personal liberties wrote: “The only countries I know that punish the desecration of their flags are China, Iran and Cuba.” Then Hentoff asks, “Do we want to join those dictatorships?” The answer should be clear. We do not. And we should not.
Charlotte Observer. The Senate should reject the amendment and stop the political grandstanding. A constitutional amendment is neither needed nor warranted. Two centuries ago, when the Continental Congress adopted the first national flag, the founders knew what apparently many now have forgotten: The value of the flag is not in the cloth it’s made of, but in what it represents at home and abroad.
Worcester Telegram & Gazette News. But if unpopular ideas or modes of expression are proscribed — whether by statute or constitutional amendment — the guarantee of free speech rings hollow.
Pocono Record. Besides, what desecrates the flag? While flag-burning offends some, how about the grossly oversized flags that roadside businesses often use as little more than a waving billboard? What about the depiction of of the flag on paper placemats and napkins? T-shirts, bathing suits or beach towels? … Who gets to decide which uses respect the flag and which “desecrate” it?
Saginaw News. Patriotism, Samuel Johnson said, is the last refuge of a scoundrel. It’s also a sturdy shelter for members of Congress facing re-election.
Mark Lane. Having an almost-successful vote against flag burning is a dandy way to celebrate Flag Day.
In a statement sent to Congress, the former assistant secretary of defense and retired naval officer [Lawrence J. Korb] says that if the purpose of the so called flag burning amendment to the Constitution is to honor those in uniform, then Congress would do better to address the failings of the Bush administration to support current and future veterans.