Flag Burning Amendment poised to pass Senate

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Nyarlathotep
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Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Sep 09, 2004 7:51 pm

Brown wrote:
Nyarlathotep wrote:In effect, congress and the president are trying to make end runs around the judiciary with amendments like this. This is a dangerous, dangerous mindset.
Arguably, there is nothing wrong with amending the Constitution to undo Supreme Court decisions. Before the Civil War, the Supreme Court upheld involuntary servitude, but the 13th Amendment set that ruling aside.

In the case of flag burning, there is a Supreme Court decision that says that such activity is protected speech. But is flag burning a major problem in this country? Are people burning flags on such a regular basis that there is a compelling need to addresss the problem? And if some guy burns his own flag in a safe manner, how is anyone hurt, other than in their patriotic emotions? Are we going to amend the Constitution to protect fragile feelings? WHERE IS THE NEED?

In the case of gay unions, there is no US Supreme Court decision on the subject, but the Supreme Court has recognized that gay people (gasp!) have rights to act on their orientation. Some state courts have touched on the topic, however, and little Bush has called them "activist judges." These evil "activist judges," he says, will foist gay unions on us whether we want them or not. Have the evil "activist judges" done so yet? They have not. Have any states' "activist judges" been asked to recognize gay unions from other states? They have not. WHERE IS THE NEED?

A much better constitutional amendment would be one that says whoever gets the most votes wins. There is a NEED for an amendment to supplant the Electoral College, but little Bush has not expressed any interest in that sort of thing. Rather, he is more interested in amending the Constitution to protect the fragile sensibilities of his prudish constituents from conduct that does not hurt them in any way. (BTW, I do not favor replacing the Electoral College with popular vote, but rather I favor a hybrid system.)
Your post, though, contains the difference between a consittuional amendment on something like falg burning and on on something like slavery. at the end of the Civil War there was a NEED to address the slavery issue on a constitutional level. It was an issue that had, only recently, literally torn the country apart. It is hard to put into words, but there is a world of difference between adding something to the constitution that addresses the needs of society and that abolishes a practice not in line with the ideals behind the Constitution and adding something that prohibits individual behavior that harms no one solely because it could never stand as a law in the federal statutes. The latter is the sort of dangerous behavior I was talking about.

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Fade
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Post by Fade » Fri Sep 10, 2004 2:53 am

Wait wait wait. They have American flag CONTACT LENSES?

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Cleon
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Post by Cleon » Fri Sep 10, 2004 3:57 pm

Nigel wrote:Done! I sent the email. Of course, my senators are hawks (Bunning and McConnell), so I know the answer I'll receive. But dammit, it's my right to tell them what I think.
That's nothing. I got Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss.

Ah, Georgia...

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Post by Nigel » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:17 pm

Cleon wrote:
Nigel wrote:Done! I sent the email. Of course, my senators are hawks (Bunning and McConnell), so I know the answer I'll receive. But dammit, it's my right to tell them what I think.
That's nothing. I got Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss.

Ah, Georgia...
You win. I stayed in Atlanta last year. Fat Matt's Rib Shack was awesome. You can have the humidity though. I don't think even Cincinnati's is as bad.
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ManfredVonRichthoffen
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Post by ManfredVonRichthoffen » Fri Sep 10, 2004 4:18 pm

I've heard that the religious right, if bush wins a second term, plans on combining the two amendments into one.

For you English folk, a Fag Burning Amendment isn't as harmless as it sounds.

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Post by Stimpson J. Cat » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:24 pm

I sent an e-mail to my senators as well. I recieved this response today.
Dear Dr. Dolan:

Thank you for contacting me about S.J. Res. 4, a
constitutional amendment to ban desecration of the flag. I
appreciate the time you have taken to share your views with me,
and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

I agree with you that freedom of speech is one of the pillars
upon which this country was built. It allows us the freedom to
express ourselves within the confines of society. I would never
support restricting anyone's right to say or write anything they
want about the flag or America. But burning a flag is not speech;
it is an act with expressive overtones, and that distinction is crucial
for constitutional purposes. For example, the Supreme Court
recently held, properly in my view, that cross-burning could be
prohibited, even though it is obviously an expressive act, because
of the important interests at stake.

We have a great interest in protecting the physical integrity
of the flag. The flag is the only unifying symbol of our Republic.
It represents that common history and heritage which holds
America together notwithstanding religious, cultural, or political
differences. Physical and public desecration of the flag degrades
those values and coarsens America far more than any speech or
political dissent possibly could.

Based on these points, I believe the flag amendment is fully
justified. That is why I am an original cosponsor of S.J. Res. 4.
The proposed amendment protects all actual speech and carves out
only the narrowest range of expressive conduct which may be
regulated. It will not prevent anyone from saying or writing
anything, however offensive, about America, the flag, politics, or
anything else. The marketplace of ideas was strong and vital for
the first two hundred years of our Republic, during which time
States routinely passed such laws.

Again, thank you for contacting me about this important
issue. If I may be of further assistance, please don't hesitate to call
or write.


Thank you for your email. To contact me on this or any other subject, please go
to http://talent.senate.gov/contact/index.html

Sincerely,

Senator Jim Talent
I figure there's not much point in repying back. He's not terribly likely to change his mind.


Dr. Stupid
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Nyarlathotep
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Post by Nyarlathotep » Fri Sep 10, 2004 6:42 pm

Senator Talent's letter makes me laugh. If he is so certain that the distinction between 'speech' and 'and act with expressive overtones' is so important constitutionally, then why doesn't he try to enact a federal law prohibiting flag burning rather than trying to get this as an amendment?

My guess: Because he knows that such a law would be struck down as unconstitutional in a heartbeat. So by making an amendment, he makes it constitutional by definition, even though it goes against the spirit and intent of the constitution. :x

edited to add: Bullshit like this is one of the primary reasons that I absolutley, positively HATE, LOATHE, AND DESPISE politicians.

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Brown
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Post by Brown » Tue Sep 14, 2004 3:51 pm

Nyarlathotep wrote:Your post, though, contains the difference between a consittuional amendment on something like falg burning and on on something like slavery. at the end of the Civil War there was a NEED to address the slavery issue on a constitutional level. It was an issue that had, only recently, literally torn the country apart. It is hard to put into words, but there is a world of difference between adding something to the constitution that addresses the needs of society and that abolishes a practice not in line with the ideals behind the Constitution and adding something that prohibits individual behavior that harms no one solely because it could never stand as a law in the federal statutes. The latter is the sort of dangerous behavior I was talking about.
I think we are in general agreement. When the constitution is to be amended, especially when addressing individual civil liberties, there should be a need for the amendment. You are correct in saying that there was a need for the 13th Amendment, which restricted the rights of some people to own other people. The Emancipation Proclamation did not legally abolish involuntary servitude; the 13th Amendment did.

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Post by Nyarlathotep » Tue Sep 14, 2004 4:17 pm

Brown wrote: The Emancipation Proclamation did not legally abolish involuntary servitude; the 13th Amendment did.
Yep. It is surprising and sad how many people do not know that.

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Post by Cool Hand » Thu Sep 16, 2004 11:49 am

I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned that it is quite easy to prove that the kind of flag burning, i.e., desecration of the American flag, the proposed amendment seeks to prohibit, and that the federal law Congress passed within the last decade did prohibit, but was soon struck down by the Supreme Court, is in fact an abridgement of free speech.

Here's how. The official etiquette for disposing of a tattered, faded, or worn out American flag is to burn it.

Here's a link to a prominent manufacturer of American flags, describing proper flag etiquette, including how to dispose of one properly (by burning it):

http://www.capitolflags.com/etiquette.html

Most VFW posts will accept old flags and dispose of them "properly" for you by burning them. Is that prohibited by the proposed amendment? Of course not, because it's done "respectfully" and according to long-established etiquette and tradition.

The only difference between the proper way to dispose of the flag and the so called "desecration" of the flag by protestors burning the flag is the context in which in takes place. In other words, the VFW veterans burning old flags "respectfully" is fine. On the other hand, if you intend to burn the flag as a means or method of protesting American policy, or some govermental action, or any other statement you wish to make, including as a kind of "performance art," then you would be breaking the law and could be fined and/or imprisoned for doing so.

This is nothing but punishing speech protected by the First Amendment. One might also label it thought crime. The great irony is that the First Amendment, supposedly the one amendment we hold most dear and worthy of protection, is the one Congress proposes to stab right in the heart.

Of course, I fully recognize that most of the legislators' support for such an amendment is mere political grandstanding, but much of the American electorate does not understand that. I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard someone say quite in earnest that they feel sorry for all the veterans who have fought to protect the flag whenever someone desecrates it.

Nope. No one has fought for the flag. All members of the U.S. Armed Forces take a solemn oath, as do all Congressmen and Senators, to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, not the flag, from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Perhaps the armed forces have sworn to take up arms against any Congressman, Senator, or state legislator who supports or votes for a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting flag desecration.

The last time Congress passed the flag burning law, I wrote a letter to the editor of our paper stating that I felt like going to my courthouse steps to burn a copy of the Bill of Rights, as Congress has already proclaimed in effect that desecrating it was perfectly acceptable.

Hypocrisy is alive and well.

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Post by Pyrrho » Thu Sep 16, 2004 4:25 pm

Burning a flag in protest or in contempt is an expression of free speech.

Burning a cross on a lawn is a threat.

The quickest way to guarantee flag burning is to prohibit flag burning. When more people start burning flags in protest of such a prohibition, power will have an excuse to "crack down". It is a means to an end, nothing more, nothing less.
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Post by gnome » Thu Sep 16, 2004 4:33 pm

Pyrrho wrote:Burning a flag in protest or in contempt is an expression of free speech.

Burning a cross on a lawn is a threat.

The quickest way to guarantee flag burning is to prohibit flag burning. When more people start burning flags in protest of such a prohibition, power will have an excuse to "crack down". It is a means to an end, nothing more, nothing less.
I'm with Cool Hand. I suggest protestors show up very publicly with american flags, so that the cops and press gather, but then leave them be and start burning copies of the Constitution. I think that would make a statement. I'll do that myself if this passes.

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Post by Nyarlathotep » Thu Sep 16, 2004 4:39 pm

Pyrrho wrote:Burning a flag in protest or in contempt is an expression of free speech.

Burning a cross on a lawn is a threat.

The quickest way to guarantee flag burning is to prohibit flag burning. When more people start burning flags in protest of such a prohibition, power will have an excuse to "crack down". It is a means to an end, nothing more, nothing less.
I wish I didn't agree with you Pyrrho, but I do.

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Post by Bruce » Thu Sep 16, 2004 9:13 pm

Bah! Why burn your flag when you can shoot it with your automatic weapon? :D
Such potential!

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Post by Pyrrho » Fri Sep 17, 2004 5:11 am

I'll tell you, though, back in the early 1970's, my dad was ready and willing to set fire to a U.S. flag once, when he saw one that had been sewn in to patch the threadbare blue jeans covering a hippie's ass.
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Post by shanek » Fri Sep 17, 2004 4:49 pm

Brown wrote:I think we are in general agreement. When the constitution is to be amended, especially when addressing individual civil liberties, there should be a need for the amendment. You are correct in saying that there was a need for the 13th Amendment, which restricted the rights of some people to own other people. The Emancipation Proclamation did not legally abolish involuntary servitude; the 13th Amendment did.
Interestingly, many states had already abolished it in their respective Constitutions. The southern states, in particular, had to amend their Constitutions to include it, as a condition of being readmitted into the Union. The 13th Amendment had to be passed because there were still a few Union states that had not abolished slavery, specifically, Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware (possibly West Virginia, too, but that's very ambiguous).
There is an old android saying. In binary it reads: 01001001001001110110110100100000011011100110111101110100001
00000011101110110010101100001011100100110100101101110011001
1100100000011100000110000101101110011101000111001100100001. Makes you think, huh?

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Post by shanek » Fri Sep 17, 2004 4:52 pm

Cool Hand wrote:I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned that it is quite easy to prove that the kind of flag burning, i.e., desecration of the American flag, the proposed amendment seeks to prohibit, and that the federal law Congress passed within the last decade did prohibit, but was soon struck down by the Supreme Court, is in fact an abridgement of free speech.
By the way, all you really need to know about this is, not whether or not it's "protected free speech" under the First Amendment; only that there's nothing at all in Article I Section 8 giving Congress the authority to restrict flag burning. That's why we need the amendment in the first place. That burns a hole (pun intended) in the argument that our founders would have wanted us to protect the flag; if they had really wanted it, they would have simply included it in Article I Section 8.

This is exactly the kind of mentality Alexander Hamilton warned us about in Federalist #84.
There is an old android saying. In binary it reads: 01001001001001110110110100100000011011100110111101110100001
00000011101110110010101100001011100100110100101101110011001
1100100000011100000110000101101110011101000111001100100001. Makes you think, huh?

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Post by Sundog » Fri Sep 17, 2004 4:54 pm

I wonder if a depiction or animation of a burning flag will be illegal? Could be a hot new free-speech banner.

Some of you artsy types out there should get on it and animate us a nice burning flag.

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Post by gnome » Fri Sep 17, 2004 5:02 pm

Sundog wrote:I wonder if a depiction or animation of a burning flag will be illegal? Could be a hot new free-speech banner.

Some of you artsy types out there should get on it and animate us a nice burning flag.
I reccomend a burning US Constitution on a flagpole... as much as it shouldn't be so, a protestor with a burning flag is too easily villified.

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Post by Sundog » Fri Sep 17, 2004 5:03 pm

gnome wrote:
Sundog wrote:I wonder if a depiction or animation of a burning flag will be illegal? Could be a hot new free-speech banner.

Some of you artsy types out there should get on it and animate us a nice burning flag.
I reccomend a burning US Constitution on a flagpole... as much as it shouldn't be so, a protestor with a burning flag is too easily villified.
Oh, yes! Excellent idea!