Sunday, July 05, 2009

Filling the Square

Few things can trigger an irrational response like the subject of burning the American flag. You'll see the patriotic hairs rise on the back of red necks as they bristle about millions having fought and died for that flag. That's why when the country is rapidly unraveling it is de rigeur for some fool in the Capitol to propose amending the Constitution to prohibit flag burning. Immediately we have the grand show of bipartisanship as idiots fall all over themselve expressing their outrage and patriotic fervor. It always passes the House by overwhelming margin and then founders in the Senate where it is impossible to raise a quorum from the dozing, the lazy, and the senile.

Well, it's back again. Here's a great analysis of the history:

Protecting Symbolic Speech

Freedom of speech is any easy one to defend when the speech is something you agree with and support. It only becomes problematic when it is outrageous and abhorrent speech. That is a lot tougher to tolerate.

Flags get burned to attract attention. The act will collect a lot of media drones looking for violent responses and dutifully fomenting any violence they can to make it in time for deadline at the local station. Once attention is grabbed, the revolutionary will shout his slogans and be satisfied. End of story.

Flag burning is not endemic. There is no rash of banner arsonists. When was the last time you got smoke in your eyes from a burning flag? It is a non-problem.

I'd rather not start down the slippery slope of restricting speech that offends me. My speech daily inflames someone, I'm certain. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Meanwhile, if Congress could get back to work and maybe start dismantling some government...

2 comments:

The Six said...

Ed, please forgive the length of this response.
I've gone back and forth about this for many years. The veteran in me boils over every time I see some dickhead burning the flag, or dragging it through the mud or whatever. But.
I have come to this conclusion. What some asshole does to the flag does not change the way I feel about it. The pride I have in the ideals it represents. The feelings I have when I salute it. No one can take that away from me so ultimately what someone else does to a flag is irrelevant. I will ignore them and they will have failed to impact me. It's the Fuck You principal.

It hurts my mouth to say this but I agree, a flag burning amendment is anti-liberty and un-American. I really hate that but anything else is morally and intellectually indefensible. It's either/or. In the immortal words of Kyle Broflofski (sp?) "Either it's all ok or nothing is". No feather merchant gets to decide what is and what isn't political protest. And with this group in charge of the country you can bet that if this is banned others forms of protest will follow. Tea Bags anyone?

I reserve the right of hypocracy though. If in my humble opinion some low life is desecrating a flag and I deem it appropriate to hurt him I will do so with a clear conscience and a song in my heart. It's just that I want him to go to the hospital, not the jail.

Buzz Barron said...

I agree totally...did you know Michael Jackson died?