Once More Through The Conservative's Looking Glass or How Republicans Stopped Worrying About Our Freedoms and Are Selling Out The Constitution


Well, folks, just like clockwork the Republicans are once again admitting that they are completely incapable of actually governing a country and are falling back on that old standby, the Anti-Flag Burning Amendment, instead of even pretending to offer America a government of any kind. Even though Congress has been told by the American people time and again that we are not interested in their ultra-patriotic wet dreams, every time that they run out of conservative nightmares like that old unconstitutional saw about anti-abortion laws and the destruction of the separation of church and state in their sick drive to force their feverish version of the Christian religion onto the more spiritual American people, they trot this trite loser out. Sadly, though, since even the Democrats have given up on this session in hopes of using its complete lack of accomplishments against the Republican majority in next year's elections, the once honorable Democratic Party is now stooping so low as to agree to vote for this insanity in order to also look as if they have done something with the last two years.

This back door effort to overturn two very clear Supreme Court decisions that stated that flag burning is symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment is just as repugnant this time around. Since the Republicans and their conservative masters cannot imagine a world where any amendments except the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments holds priority over every other of the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights, they want to add a wee asterisk to the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech that states that all speech is guaranteed except that which the little old ladies of the Republican Congress finds currently distasteful or that form of speech which the owners of the GOP find inconvenient and an obstacle to whatever vile agenda they find important at the moment.

The current Congress discovered that, in the past, holding actual hearings on this silliness produced only a long line of military veterans who urged Congress to get back to far more important business and that the rantings of the individual Republicans supporting the move became fodder for late night comedians and mocking headlines even in the conservative media. This time, they are simply by-passing any such democratic (and obviously dangerous) procedures and are bringing it directly to the House floor for a vote. That way, it can be sent on to the Senate as quickly as possible and may possibly even be voted on by some states before the conservative media gets around to informing the public. (1)

In the past years, many newspaper editorials have been written in firm opposition to this amendment. The Charleston Gazette wrote,
"SEN. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., may be all that stands between the Bill of Rights and a plan to restrict Americans' freedom to criticize the government.

With Congress back in session, Republicans are pushing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would allow flag-burning protesters to be jailed. In the past, Byrd supported such a proposal, but as it comes closer to a final vote in the Senate, he appears to be rethinking his position.

We understand the love Americans feel for the flag. It is a powerful symbol of the nation. Veterans who followed the flag into battle have an especially strong attachment to it.

But respect for the flag cannot be legislated. And punishment of citizens who demonstrate their disgust for government actions by burning the flag weakens the very freedoms the flag symbolizes.

If this amendment passes, and it becomes illegal to use this graphic method of criticizing the government, then Americans will have lost one portion of their right of free speech.

Totalitarian nations like China and Iran punish citizens who speak out against the government. That isn't supposed to happen in the democracy conceived by Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and their fellow visionaries. " (2)

The Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette offered,

``If you have a weak candidate and a weak platform, wrap yourself up in the flag.''
-- Matthew Stanley Quay, political boss of Pennsylvania, 1886.

"Unable to impeach President Clinton, unable to convince Americans that privatizing Social Security and cutting taxes are good ideas, and unable to find any substantive way to connect with voters, congressional Republicans are wrapping themselves in the flag.

With apologies to Dr. Johnson, the flag is the last refuge of these scoundrels.

House Republicans, including Rep. Mark Souder, R-4th, have introduced a Constitutional amendment, now in committee, that would allow Congress to ``prohibit the physical desecration of the flag.'' Over in the Senate, Richard Lugar has joined fellow Republicans in supporting an identical measure.

They must not succeed. To allow them to do so would put America in the company of countries like Cuba, which jails anyone who dares burn a flag. " (3)

Even such staunch conservatives as Sen. John Glenn have testified against this amendment, adding his voice to the thousands of other combat veterans who have spoken out against the Republican's mission of trivializing the horrors they witnessed and the bravery that they displayed in protecting the freedoms of Americans, not the dyed cloth that is a symbol of those freedoms. (4)

As a U.S. Marine combat veteran from the Vietnam "War" who was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry w/Bronze Cluster, a Presidential Citation, a Combat Action Medal as well as the Purple Heart, I add my voice against this stupidity. Not one moment of my time was spent nor one iota of my soul ever offered on the false and un-American altar of cloth worship. I killed not one other human being to protect a symbol, an idol nor some icon that is a meaningless symbol that stands only for what the viewer imposes on it. I fought, and offered my life and body, only and completely in defense of the same actual freedoms that so many before me had fought for and, sadly, died for. To see that sacrifice demeaned and debased in such a crude and senseless fashion and in this vile political way makes me ashamed to be an American. No matter what one's opinion about the burning of this cloth, and personally I find it rather silly and ineffective as a protest, anyone who stands up for the freedoms that are America must also stand up for the freedom to act in a silly and ineffective way. To do anything else is to show the same hypocrisy that that the Republican Party is now so well known for. Either all freedoms remain undiluted and as pure as the Constitution's framers envisioned or none are safe from the imbeciles we continue to elect.

If you are a veteran and want to add your voice against this imbecility, then go directly to Veterans Defending the Bill of Rights (this site ceased to exist between this article and 11/15/01). If you just want to let your representative know how you feel, then go to ACLU's Action Alert page (no longer available but this will get you to the ACLU's site) and send a fax and/or e-mail that opinion to them directly. I urge you to do so soon or else you will be forced to deal with the clowns of fifty different state governments with little hope of speaking louder than the fools supporting this abomination.

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Copyright 6/15/99