More thoughts on the Constitutional that passed the House of
Representatives Nanny-statists yesterday.
When I e-mailed Congressman Loose Cannon™, I informed him of my opposition to H.J.Res. 10, which is this:
Title: Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.
Sponsor: Rep Cunningham, Randy (Duke) [CA-50] (introduced 1/25/2005) Cosponsors (196)
Related Bills: H.RES.330, S.J.RES.12
Latest Major Action: 6/22/2005 Passed/agreed to in House. Status: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 286 – 130 (Roll no. 296).
Do I need to clarify that Congressman Loose Cannon™ is in the list of 196 Cosponsors?
This is the response I received earlier this week to my e-mail. Before I reproduce it here, though, let me remind you that I referenced H.J.Res. 10 because I knew that it was the proposed amendment coming before the full House. I made specific reference to the fact that it would come before the House this week. And he was one of the 196 Cosponsors. So this is what
his intern he wrote:
Thank you for contacting me regarding H.J.Res. 5, the Flag Amendment. I appreciate hearing from you regarding this important issue.
As you know, Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) introduced H.J.Res. 5 in January 2005 at the outset of the 109th Congress. H.J.Res. 5 proposes to amend the Constitution by authorizing Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the United States flag.
Since its introduction, H.J.Res. 5 has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary. Rest assured I will keep your comments foremost in my mind if this measure comes before the full House for a vote.
Thank you again for contacting my office regarding this important issue. I appreciate you sharing your views with me, and I look forward to hearing from you in the future on matters of interest or concern.
Member of Congress
I’m sure my comments will be foremost in your mind, but only if your mind is in the circular file. At least the pattern of not reading my e-mails for context continues, so that’s a reassurance in this world of change.
Here are two more wonderful quotes about the amendment that passed yesterday:
Among the new votes for the amendment is Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who pushed the issue in his campaign and helped recruit co-sponsors. “Out in the country, at the grass-roots level, it’s seen as a common man’s practical patriotism,” Thune said.
Because, you know, it’s about the common man, the country folks. The real people. Not us liberal, elitists snobs on the East Coast. Because I hate America, unlike real, salt-of-the-Earth Americans. But, Sen. Thune, perhaps a suggestion: remove the symbolic flag from the pole before you beat us over the head with it. And take that slice of your mom’s apple pie out of your baseball mitt. But most importantly, please, please make sure you loosen it from around your neck so that you still get oxygen. It’s obvious that it’s wrapped so tightly around you that it’s cutting the flow to your brain.
House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said during the debate that lawmakers “must act with bipartisan dispatch to ensure that this issue is returned to the hands of those most interested in preserving freedom — the people themselves.”
Rep. Sensenbrenner, returning this issue to the people, who hadn’t been clamoring for you to address it the way they have about, oh, I don’t know, terrorism, war, social security, taxes, and other minor issues, is wise in a Republic. Encourage
mob majority rule when you’re in power because, you know, your party will never be in the minority again. Well thought out.
Here’s an interesting article from Eugene Volokh titled “What’s Wrong With the Flagburning Amendment”. Here’s an excerpt, but read the full text.
“Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States, and the flying of the Confederate flag.”
OK, so that’s not exactly how the proposed flag protection amendment reads — I’ve added the Confederate flag phrase. But this little thought experiment helps show that the flag protection amendment is a bad idea.
After all, burning the U.S. flag and flying the Confederate flag are similar in many ways. Some people argue that flagburning shouldn’t be protected by the First Amendment because it isn’t “speech.” Well, burning one flag and waving another are pretty similar on that score. I think both are traditional terms in our political language, and should be constitutionally protected; but if I’m wrong, then both should be unprotected.
Of course, burning the U.S. flag deeply offends many people. But so does waving the Confederate flag, even when it’s done by individuals and not by state governments. Many American boys died defending the U.S. flag — and many of them died fighting against the Confederacy. Burning the U.S. flag is often an anti-American symbol. Likewise, the Confederate flag was a symbol of treason and rebellion against the lawful American government.
Mr. Volokh carries the argument through, building a very strong case against the amendment. He concludes with this:
America is different from most other countries, and even from most other democracies. In America, all ideologies are protected, even those that the majority thinks are evil.
Why is this right? Because the First Amendment was drafted and interpreted by people who intimately understood cultural, religious, and political conflict, and who knew how calls for censorship could launch the most bitter of culture wars.
The [First] Amendment is a truce: “I won’t try to suppress your ideas, if you don’t try to suppress mine.” And the flagburning amendment risks shattering this truce.