Thursday, June 23, 2005

Conservative Hangup?

I happen, even as a conservative, to have some reservations about the amendment to prevent desecration of the American flag, the "anti-flag-burning amendment."

Now, it's not that I have any sympathy for the misguided, smelly, pot-smoking neohippies who burn American flags nowadays. I wonder, actually, how hippies in this day, four solid decades after the initial incarnation of those bath-deprived cretins graced us with their drug-addled discourses on the perceived injustices of American life, set fire to flag. Zippo lighters produced cheaply and efficiently through the power of industrial capitalism, purchased with the money these hippie-wannabes got as spoiled brats from their rich parents, who sent them off to expensive, elite colleges to make them successes, unaware of the liberal indoctrination they'd receive from their ivory-tower-dwelling professors? It's rather ironic, or something, that the overindulged little rich kids at top universities, people who experience most closely the benefits of capitalism and privilege, are the ones most vocal in decrying the evils of the very thing giving them the luxury and freedom to protest.

But, really, I digress. My point in that previous paragraph, in simplified form: I hate hippies of all generations and hate anyone who has the gall to burn the American flag.

However, I wonder if we really need an amendment to the Constitution to authorize Congress to pass legislation to prevent the desecration of the flag. As a practical matter, if you want Congress to be able to pass such legislation, you have to amend the Constitution, since judicial precedent has already made clear that the Supreme Court will strike down anti-flag-burning legislation. An amendment would essentially overturn all that precedent and allow Congress to make such laws. But, really, what's the harm in burning the American flag? So some hippies want to make a pathetic protest based on their ignorant and hypocritical political views - so what? I'm fairly wary of any government regulation, being that government is a violent and unpredictable beast that frankly cannot ever be depended on to protect my freedom and security, and this amendment is no exception. And I don't care that it's a pet cause of many conservatives to pass such an amendment, because it seems we have a lot better things to be considering, such as securing our Swiss-cheese borders, preventing the murder of innocent children (let's pass a partial-birth abortion ban, okay, guys?), &c.

All the previous rambling brings me back to the title of this post. Why are conservatives so insistent on banning flag burning? I don't mind sticking it to the hippies, but is this amendment and its concomitant restriction of free speech (even [ick!] symbolic free speech is speech, I guess) worth the pain and suffering it'll bring to liberals? It does seem rather to cede the Constitutional high ground when conservatives are willing to denigrate the sacrosanct First Amendment in favor of an ill-defined and controversial ideal...

What do I know? Maybe it gets votes. It's Machiavellian, but doing the wrong thing to get the right people in power isn't something I'm exactly willing to let become monopolized by the Left (Hillary, this means you)...


At 1:43 PM, June 23, 2005 , Anonymous Scott said...

I agree this whole effort seems misguided. As I read here, this country's attachment to its flag is quite high.

The evidence that we literally worship the flag is overwhelming. Unique among all nations, we have a Flag Day, a Flag code etiquette, a national anthem dedicated to the flag and a verbal salute to the flag. Twenty-seven states require school children to salute the flag daily.

That being said, (all of which I don't 100% agree with) it stands to follow that our freedoms will be limited to protect this idol of a flag.

At 7:10 PM, June 23, 2005 , Blogger Vernunft said...

If I may defend American "flag-worship" against your iconoclasm, Scott...

The American flag is a symbol for us more than it is for any other nation, for the flags of other nations are tainted by their feudal origins. Our flag represents, by contrast, the fight for freedom and the creation of an independent nation founded on the noble ideals of individualism and liberty. I think the flag deserves the respect we accord it and the virtual worship we accord it is commensurate with its value as a symbol of all American ideals and American history. But that very freedom of which the flag is a symbol requires that we not imprison someone for desecrating it, since, ultimately, freedom is superior to its symbol. I can call a hippie flag-burner a hypocritical, tasteless, worthless asshole, but I still hold that he has a right as an American to burn the flag that represents his freedom.

At 9:24 AM, June 24, 2005 , Anonymous Scott said...

No complaints here. I understand its meaning, and the weight the flag carries, especially in contrast to the rest of the world's nations.

200 years ago we didn't have the anthem, pledge, holiday, or etiquette standards - yet the flag was just as important then as it is now. All of these things have been added to the repetoire of flag worship as it becomes a greater symbol of a greater country.

I'm curious to see how far this goes, though. In another 200 years, what new worship methods will be added considering the current debate to ban any desecration? I have no desire to desecrate a flag, but I certainly don't care if some dirty hippie does, and I'll be upset if he's not allowed to.

Also, I would have presumed my iconclastic views would have been welcomed at The New Skeptic. I enjoy your writing, and just want to add to the thought process.

At 1:20 PM, June 24, 2005 , Blogger Vernunft said...

Iconoclasm is savage beats, just offering a reason people are so adamant about respect for the flag.


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