June 27, 2005

Mark Steyn on the Flag Burning Amendment

Mark Steyn has an interesting column in the Chicago Sun Times on the proposed flag burning amendment:

The House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment on flag burning last week, in the course of which Rep. Randy ''Duke'' Cunningham (Republican of California) made the following argument: ''Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center. Ask them and they will tell you: Pass this amendment." Unlike Congressman Cunningham, I wouldn't presume to speak for those who died atop the World Trade Center. For one thing, citizens of more than 50 foreign countries, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, were killed on 9/11. Of the remainder, maybe some would be in favor of a flag-burning amendment; and maybe some would think that criminalizing disrespect for national symbols is unworthy of a free society. And maybe others would roll their eyes and say that, granted it's been clear since about October 2001 that the federal legislature has nothing useful to contribute to the war on terror, and its hacks and poseurs prefer to busy themselves with a lot of irrelevant grandstanding with a side order of fries, but they could at least quit dragging us into it. And maybe a few would feel as many of my correspondents did last week about the ridiculous complaints of ''desecration'' of the Quran by U.S. guards at Guantanamo -- that, in the words of one reader, ''it's not possible to 'torture' an inanimate object.'' That alone is a perfectly good reason to object to a law forbidding the "desecration" of the flag. For my own part, I believe that, if someone wishes to burn a flag, he should be free to do so. In the same way, if Democrat senators want to make speeches comparing the U.S. military to Nazis and the Khmer Rouge, they should be free to do so. It's always useful to know what people really believe.
Amen.
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