FLAG-BURNING: PROTECTED BY THE CONSTITUTION?
Friday, July 15, 2005
Recently, an eighteen year old teenager was arrested for burning an American flag in Tennessee. Unfortunately for him, and the rest of us who don't allow ourselves to blindly love a country that does so much backstabbing, there are statutes (in this kid's case, in Tennessee) that make flag-burning not only a misdemeanor, but punishable by both jail and fines.
This is yet another infringement on the mother of all Amendments, the First Amendment. The one that grants us freedom of speech. It's fine to arrest this kid on the other things he did: underage drinking, littering, evading arrest, theft, and burning personal property. But don't punish him for "desecrating a venerated object". Since when is the U.S. flag venerable? Why is the U.S. flag a contradiction of what it actually stands for (freedom)?
Sure, some people may not like it, but that's tough. If you don't like seeing something, you turn away from it. But that doesn't stop these Bible-thumpers from trying to stop anything they don't agree with. Sure, we can't express that we dislike America, its government, and/or its people, but they sure can ramble on and on about how they love the country, the government, and/or its people. What's the difference? One's pro, and one's con. You don't like a movie, you tell me why you don't like it, and then I tell you why I liked it. Same thing, right?
But, I guess, because you "live here," you can't mouth off about the country. As another example, it's like living in an apartment and hating your super. Just because you live there doesn't mean you have to like living there, and nor does it mean you have to discontinue living there. A lot of people will give you that hypocritical jargon, "if you don't like America, then pack up your bags and leave." As much as I'd love to do that, "Zed," the First Amendment seems to be like a "break glass in case of emergency" kind of thing: only use it if it suits you and what you believe in.
This infringement of the First Amendment has been going on forever and ever, and I doubt it'll ever cease until we get Bible-thumpers like George W. Bush out of office. His integration of church and state is obvious; you can put the Ten Commandments up in public schools and on public buildings - because it's freedom of speech - but you can't burn flags? We, the people, pay the taxes to put up with this government, or the semblance we call a government (they're off fighting other people's wars instead of focusing on the land we can actually control), so we should be able to express ourselves however we want. Until the government lifts taxes, I'm going to get my money's worth out of this country. That doesn't mean I'm going to go out and burn a flag, it just means I'm going to exercise my rights as a United States citizen.
You live your life; I'll live my life. That's how it should be. Arrest the kid for everything else he did, just not for the actual burning of the flag. If you can burn steaks on the Fourth of July, then we can burn flags.