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April 21, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Congress hiding behind the flag
Ralph Bristol
June 23, 2005

I would like to think that our elected representatives in Congress so love this country, and that for which it stands, that they genuinely believe that burning the American flag should be a uniquely despicable, and thus illegal, expression of one’s political opinion.  I would like to believe that, but they make it impossible for me to do so.


There are exceptions of course, but the body politic that comprises Congress so often displays so little regard for that which best represents the American spirit, the U.S. Constitution, it would take a fool to believe that two-thirds of Congress is offended by the desecration of another of our symbols – the American flag.


I cannot bring myself to offer my respect and support to those who wrap themselves in the flag in an attempt to hide their indifference to that which the flag represents.


Yesterday, the House, for the sixth time, voted for an amendment to the Constitution that would pave the way for a federal law that bans the desecration of the flag.  It has heretofore been unable to gain passage in the Senate, but its chances are believed better this year.


Desecrating the flag is an offensive way for people to protest their government. It doesn’t just dishonor the policies that are in dispute. It dishonors our country itself. The flag is the symbol of the country that most of us love dearly.  Love of country ranks right up there with love of family and, for some, God.


While I have had disagreements, and even became angry, with members of my family from time to time, I would be offended to see any of them burned in effigy. Watching an angry, violent manifestation of someone’s deep-seeded hate for something or someone we love is uniquely troubling.


I believe that most people who desecrate the flag are not trying to change policies with which they disagree.  I believe they are trying to destroy the fabric of the country itself. They don’t just hate what America is doing. They hate America itself and almost everything for which our country stands. They hate everything that makes America great except their right to express that hate.


But, the fact it, that IS one of the things that makes America great – the right of American citizens to express any political opinion they so choose, in any way that does not put others in imminent danger.  I have no doubt that our founders were wise enough to know that many people would use their rights as American citizens to offend others, but I have just as much confidence that the reason they articulated those rights in the Bill of Rights was because they knew the human tendency would be to try to silence offensive voices, and they considered that tendency much more dangerous than the offensive voices themselves.


I truly believe that the flag desecration amendment violates the spirit of the founders’ intent when they wrote and adopted the 1st Amendment to the Constitution.


I also believe that a majority of the members of Congress have so little regard for the Constitution that their motives in voting for the flag desecration amendment are highly suspect.


I will offer no safe harbor to the scoundrels who have corrupted our government and who now seek refuge behind an amendment to protect the symbol of a spirit that does not live within them.


I oppose the flag desecration amendment because I believe it dishonors the founders, who are my heroes, and provides unwarranted shelter to those who routinely pollute my heroes’ legacy.

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Just how far is congress willing to go to uphold a law banning the burning of the American flag and what of other, so called, offences? Will the fat senator with a tie in the form of an American flag be subject to a fine or a sentence? How about the cute young teenager with the American flag motif shorts? Yep, sent them both to prison! In fact, they should take this proposed law even further and send American citizens to long terms in state prisons for even thinking about burning the flag! The problem here is that the thought is not even origional. . . .

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