Thursday, June 23, 2005

Flag-Burning Amendment

I do not think the burning of flags is an effective communications tool. I think it's silly, it says nothing, it is meaningless. Because the flag represents so many disparate things, burning it in anger over one issue only makes you look like an ass when you try to explain that you aren't against the other things it represents.

Still, people burn flags to make some point or another; and though I do not agree with them, I think they should have the right to express themselves this way. That's what free speech is about, that is its beauty.

We have a bit of a flag-fetish in America. At some point, our greatness stopped being expressed by our national pride and our overall democratic sophistication, and came to be represented by a piece of cloth dyed and stitched in a particular manner.

I've never understood the flag-fetish, except to surmise that people don't want to look at the real issues that make a nation great (like liberty, freedom, development, infrastructure, employment, health, education, and all those other inconveniences), they would rather just glorify a symbol and pretend everything else is just fine. If the flag is flying high then we needn't worry about twenty million children without health care.

Americans can't be bothered with thoughtful analysis. Thinking was first co-opted by television, and now more frighteningly, by fundamentalists pretending they are Christians and presenting biblical fairy tales as actual facts. Why think when you can just knee-jerk react? Symbolism is very helpful when you don't want to think.

One of this week's topics in the House of Representatives is a proposed Constitutional amendment (H.J. Res 10.) that would criminalize desecration of the United States flag, and reads rather simply:
"The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

As with all amendments, it must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate and two-thirds of the House, then it must be codified into law by 38 states within seven years.

I think amendments about symbolism are a bad idea, especially when you consider that an actual amendment of substance, the Equal Rights Amendment, failed to meet this criteria, and taxpaying American women are not guaranteed equal protection under a single national law. A bit of an embarrassment for thinking people.

Similar flag-fetish amendments have passed in the House, but none have ever passed in the Senate. However, now that the corporate fundamentalists have a clear Senate majority (and 65 definite votes of 67 needed), the amendment might actually pass Congress and go to the states.

The same states that refused to grant women equal protection under the law will probably provide more dignity to dyed and stitched fabric than they do to their mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters. This is in keeping with the stupidity of the wrong-wing.

Why work for real change when you can just wave a flag and accuse your dissenters of being unpatriotic?

The passage of this amendment would be a mistake. It would divert what few resources the corporate fundamentalists have left remaining in the government away from the needy and into political witch hunts where those who desecrate a flag in protest of globalization or war will be imprisoned, and those who affix a cross or POW-MIA or a picture of an aborted fetus to the same flag will be left to desecrate as they choose.

The billionaire corporate fundamentalists have raped our treasury for their own profit, and now they want us to spend tax dollars protecting dyed and stitched fabric instead of providing food, shelter, and medical care to American children.

Man! Priorities are really screwed-up, and it isn't the liberals screwing things up.

Passage of this amendment is a bad idea. Please contact your representative and beg him or her to oppose H.J. Res 10.


Find your Representative in the House.

Find your Senators.

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