Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ADULTS WANTED, PLEASE APPLY AT THE DOOR ON THE RIGHT....I plead guilty to not paying attention. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

But is the United States Senate, the world's self-styled "greatest deliberative body," really only one vote short of passing a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration? Have they gone completely off their rocker?

No need to answer that, of course. But I wonder if any of these folks have thought about just how much hay countries like Iran will make the first time we toss someone in jail for burning a flag during a political protest?

Kevin Drum 6:33 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (119)

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Comments

I'll do it! Oh, wait, I thought you said "Fag Burning". My bad.

Posted by: Pat Buchanan on June 26, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Facism: The triumph of the State and its symbols over the individual.

Posted by: Cal State Disneyland on June 26, 2006 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

They won't care. No-one really pays much attention to American commitments to free speech. They have not been taken seriously in the middle east for years. Routinely doing things like bombing the offices of Al-Jazeera and running denial of service attacks on its english language web site probably had something to do with that. A flag burning amemendment is not going to make this situation any worse.

Posted by: still working it out on June 26, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

This is retarded. The flag is not important!

Posted by: Moe is me on June 26, 2006 at 6:43 PM | PERMALINK

What?

You don't think that this and gay marriage are the main threats to our existence???

Loser. Next, you'll be babbling about war, debt, rising poverty, etc.

Posted by: Freedom Phukher on June 26, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Or more correctly spelled: Fascism.

Posted by: Cal State Disneyland on June 26, 2006 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK

Will this make those little flags autographed by George W Bush even more valuable, since they will be (if possible) a tad more illegal? Is this a crypto-fundraising effort by our stalwart GOP?

Posted by: corduroy joe on June 26, 2006 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

"Fag burning." Shush. Don't say that too loudly or Karl Rove might hear you.

I can see the campaign now. Long meaningful editorials in MSM outlets giving both sides to the "issue." David Broder opining that as long as people stay in the closet they are probably safe from the "fag burners." David Brooks saying that some far left liberals think that burning "fags" might be wrong, but the Focus on the Family folks say it is biblical. Ann Coulter saying that since all fags are liberals we should burn all liberals just to make sure. Lots of Republican politicians and Joe Liberman nodding in agreement.

Where are the grown ups? Where are the grown ups? How low have we sunk as a nation.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 26, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the veterans in the senate like John McCain object when the flag is burned. Kevin Drum, who never served, understandably doesn't get it. Read about the POWs at the Hanoi Hilton sewing American flags at the risk of beatings, and maybe you will.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 26, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

The real mystery to me is Dianne Feinstein's support for the amendment. It can't possibly win her any significant amount of votes in California and she seems intelligent enough to know better. So why the heck is she doing this?

If you live in California, take a moment to let her know how you feel: http://feinstein.senate.gov/email.html

Posted by: Oregonian on June 26, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

So, they support amnesty for Iraqis who shoot our troops and jail for Americans who burn their own flags? At least Republicans are consistent--spin and symbols are more important than substance, all the time.

Republicans are weird.

Posted by: theorajones on June 26, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

If they are going to ban flag burning, then they'll have to define flag. Once they do that, you'll be able to burn anything that looks like a flag but isn't. Nothing will change except that, as you point out, the U.S. will look stupid.

Posted by: republicrat on June 26, 2006 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

The clear hypocrisy is typically US-centric. The Stars and Stripes is the only flag that deserves this protection, national or otherwise.

It's no disrespect to burn the other 190-odd national flags. In fact, because of the obvious insult inferred by Old Glory's extreme protection, to be encouraged as a figurative digit to be raised to others.

This Congress! So many real problems and their whole session revolves around election cleaving-points.

Posted by: notthere on June 26, 2006 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

Screw Iran, what about America?

The best argument against such an amendment was in a letter to the editor of a local weekly around here. Somewhere I still have the clipping. The letter was written by a WWII vet of the 101st Airborne Division, who survived jumps in Italy, Normandy and Holland. Obviously that gives it some credibility.

He closed his letter by writing "I didn't fight for the flag, I fought for what it stands for."

QED

Posted by: alex on June 26, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

The wording of the amendment wasn't available at the link, so I need to ask:

Is tying the flag across the hood of your truck, like a freshly killed deer, desecration?

Is driving at freeway speeds with a flag attached to your car, so the bars tear apart into 13 separate ribbons, desecration?

Is draping a flag on an athlete's sweaty body desecration?

Is leaving a flag flying in all weather and adverse conditions, until it is grime covered and bleached, desecration?

Is wearing a flag lapel pin, while you and your friends loot the treasury and leave the debt to my grandchildren, desecration?

Posted by: Wapiti on June 26, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Now I'm getting all nostolgic thinkin' about how jeans with old glory sewn on to the backside will be making a come back!

Posted by: Muddy Mo on June 26, 2006 at 6:55 PM | PERMALINK

i need the government to tell me what's sacred. otherwise i'd just have religion, and we all know that the government trumps that, right?

Posted by: idiot on June 26, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Duh, they don't care what they think about us overseas unless it is because a so called liberal newspapers are revealing all of our secrets.

Posted by: jerry on June 26, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Wapiti -

Yes to all questions, if you are a Democrat.

Posted by: craigie on June 26, 2006 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the veterans in the senate like John McCain object when the flag is burned. Kevin Drum, who never served, understandably doesn't get it.


Hey, American Hawk,

Here's a quiz for you: Think of Al Gore, John Kerry, and George W. Bush.

Which of those three men served overseas during the Vietnam war?

Which one used his daddy's influence to avoid service by getting into the National Guard?

And which one now supports the "anti-flag amendment" to the constitution?

(Bonus points if you can name which one used a permanent marker to sign his name onto American flags as a campaign stunt when he was running for president.)

Posted by: Oregonian on June 26, 2006 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Toss them in jail?

No.

Waterboarding.
Dogs.
Women's underwear.

Posted by: American Fuck on June 26, 2006 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

The last time this went before the Supreme Court in 1991 it was argued by William Kunstler Junior and an upstart Republican hack named Kenneth Star. Kunstler won.

Quick civics question: wouldn't the ammendment have to pass the supreme court again? Or does it just need ratification from a majority of the states?

Posted by: Saam Barrager on June 26, 2006 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure if the Founders were here today, they'd be the first to admit that the rights of symbols should unquestionably take precedence over the rights of individuals...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on June 26, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

And, Kevin, do you know one of the Senators who voted in favor of the amendment? Our own Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Posted by: LeisureGuy on June 26, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

That's it; if they finally ban flagwarming, I'm going to have to leave America and move to Canada, because at least in Canada, it will be legal to use surplus American flags in my furnace to keep my house warm.

Posted by: Liberal Strawman on June 26, 2006 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Is driving at freeway speeds with a flag attached to your car, so the bars tear apart into 13 separate ribbons, desecration?

I sure hope so. The ammendment is stupid, but if it does go through, I can't wait to see all the idiots who let the flag get torn to shreds so they can feel "patriotic" go to jail (or whatever the penalty is). Talk about unintended consequences.

LeisureGuy,

has the vote already occured?

Posted by: Edo on June 26, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the other side to this coin is increased US flag sales abroad as it will be ritually burned at every possible anti-US opportunity, allowing all those right-wing commentators to righteously froth at the mouth, and giving us an excuse to declare war against all desecrators of that foundational icon of the only really civilized nation in the world.

Posted by: notthere on June 26, 2006 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's going to be fun to watch the police arrest thousands of grannies on the mall on Independence Day, because they're wearing flag-hats, flag-shirts or OMG flag-pants. I don't even want to think about what they'd to to people with flag-underwear. LOL

Those people are seriously off their rockers.
Apparently they don't even know the flag-code, which states flag-burning as the ONLY acceptable method to retire an old, tattered flag with honor. So since burning the lfag isn't desecrating it. what are they outlawing (besides the aforementioned clothing items)?

Posted by: Madster on June 26, 2006 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

There were some ads in yesterday's paper for some cheap flag t-shirts. I already planned on purchasing two and painting a swastika on one and a hammer and sickle on the other. I guess I need a third one to use for toliet tissue.

Posted by: Hostile on June 26, 2006 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

The Senate is just showing itself to be anti boy scout.

Posted by: Sixthdegree on June 26, 2006 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

What American would desecrate the American Flag by writing on it?

I wonder which Amendment will cover this act?

Posted by: justmy2 on June 26, 2006 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Wapiti: I have an overview of what current state laws against flag desecration tend to prohibit and what a national law against "physical desecration" of the flag could easily prohibit.

I think that people would be surprised if they realized just how much beyond flag burning would be made a crime if "physical desecration" of the flag were prohibitied.

Posted by: Austin Cline on June 26, 2006 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Saam Barrager --
after 2/3 majority in house and senate it needs ratification by 3/4 of all states before adoption.

Posted by: notthere on June 26, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Now for the constitutional amendment to ban politicians from wrapping themselves in the flag....

And, of course, the constitutional amendment to prevent the Bush regime from desecrating the Constitution....

Posted by: Stefan on June 26, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

"'My daddy died for that flag!' Really? I bought mine."

Will no one pick up the torch left by Bill Hicks?

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on June 26, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe one Senator should propose amending the amendment to include a ban on desecrating the Confederate flag as well. This would be fair, since several southern states already ban desecration of the American flag right alongside the national flag.

Posted by: Austin Cline on June 26, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Want to make the wingnuts' heads explode? Propose an amendment to mandate the burning of the traitorous Confederate flag.

Posted by: Stefan on June 26, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

So if you screw a woman whose underwears are made out of a flag, will both you and the woman be procecuted for desecration?

Posted by: nut on June 26, 2006 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Wapiti:

Is tying the flag across the hood of your truck, like a freshly killed deer, desecration?
Of course not. But if you put it across the hood of a hybrid, clearly you're a candy-ass America-hating liberal and must be punished.

Gotta go. My new shipment of yellow ribbons is in from China.

Posted by: mister pedantic on June 26, 2006 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

*sigh* No more sodomizing home-schooled virgins on my American flag sheets, I suppose....

Posted by: Stefan on June 26, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

If someone burns the US flag in Iraq or Iran or in the UK, will the US issue an arrest warrant or dispatch the FBI?

Posted by: Tigershark on June 26, 2006 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Hawk, you really don't get it:

I wouldn't burn the flag in a million years if it's legal--I too have much respect for it and the country. I'd burn it in a second if it were illegal, out of disgust for the dickheads who think it takes a constitutional amendment to keep me in line.

Posted by: mac on June 26, 2006 at 7:38 PM | PERMALINK

Why did the Long Hair cross the road?
Someone told him not to.

Why did the Short Hair cross the road?
Someone told him to.


(apologies to Firesign Theatre)

Posted by: Hostile on June 26, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Dianne Feinstein is very committed to this amendment. I have written to her when this came up in the past. This is not something that 100 intelligent, thoughtful faxes are likely change her mind about. She is very stuck on this. It is not just politics. She really cares about protecting the flag.

In spite if this warning, feel free to contact Feinstein's office if you want. Phone: (202) 224-3841. Fax: (202) 228-3954. Webform: http://feinstein.senate.gov/email.html.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on June 26, 2006 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

this amendment a lawyer's security act. I wonder of the anti-lawyer crowd has thought of how much work this is going to provide for lawyers. Even without burning what constitutes (no pun intended) desecration? A pair of flag shorts? Flag face paint?
The human imagination is the limit.

What about an ad campaign for say an automobile company that smears the flag all over it's collateral?

What a sad time we line in.

Posted by: paul on June 26, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

mac, you beat me to it. I've never had any desire to burn a flag, if they pass this amendment I think I'll burn one in protest.

Posted by: Eric on June 26, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't burn the flag in a million years if it's legal--I too have much respect for it and the country. I'd burn it in a second if it were illegal, out of disgust for the dickheads who think it takes a constitutional amendment to keep me in line.

Ditto. I still think America is the greatest country in the world, and still the most free, despite all its flaws. But I'd torch the flag anyway, just to make a point about how fucking stupid and un-American this amendment is.

Posted by: Nat on June 26, 2006 at 7:51 PM | PERMALINK

I was completely shocked when I first heard of Feinstein's support of the amendment a few years ago. (I think she's even a co-sponsor, or has been in the past...) I sent her a "say it ain't so!" letter and received a similar response as Joel's. She has utterly lost my vote. So who's the Green candidate for Senate this year?

Posted by: Drinker Nisti on June 26, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the veterans in the senate like John McCain object when the flag is burned.

I'm a VETERAN. I believe that the First Amendemnt is important, and that if people feel that burning a flag is the most powerful statement they can make, it is important that they have that right.

You can get more flags. You can't retrieve your rights once you have given them away.

The flag burning amendment panders to the most moronic, fascist Americans at the expense of patriots like me, who have worn a uniform, supposedly to protect the rights of those who want to burn flags to do exactly that.

Posted by: Repack Rider on June 26, 2006 at 7:52 PM | PERMALINK

Please let them pass this ammendment. In fact, I hope the Republicans pass all their wedge bills before we take the country back. My prediction? In 2010 the Republican controlled congress will pass their final bill for 40 years. The "Air Quotes Protection Act".

Posted by: enozinho on June 26, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

Feinstein is pretty thick headed when it comes to her pet ideas. I've worked for years with groups trying to get her to support the Uniting American Families Act -- that would allow U.S. born citizens to sponsor their same-sex partners for purposes of immigration, like 19 other countries (including Costa Rica and Israel) do. She has stoned walled every attempt to contact her. That being said, I do know from those that have attended her weekly brunches for Californians here in DC -- she absolutely does not listen to anything that she gets in electronic format. If you want to at least attempt to get her ear, deliver your message in person (like at her weekly breakfasts) or send her a handwritten note.

Posted by: DC1974 on June 26, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

I believe the ammendment does not prohibit flag burning or descration.

Rather, it permits Congress to regulate flag desecration. If this should pass, then Congress can redefine it at its whim.

What a bunch of dicks.

Posted by: karog on June 26, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the liberals here who think flag-burning is too trivial to be worth a Constitutional amendment. I don't see a whole lot of flags being burned.

Because the issue is so unimportant, it also wouldn't bother me if this amendment were enacted. Congress and state legislatures do trivial, unimportant, symbolic things all the time.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 26, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the liberals here who think flag-burning is too trivial to be worth a Constitutional amendment. I don't see a whole lot of flags being burned.
Posted by: ex-liberal on June 26, 2006 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

So, basically, free speech is only protected if it's not important?

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 26, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I guess it's working. The Right has us arguing another useless issues while our boys die for oil.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on June 26, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Sooner or later something will come along to deprive the Republican party of the sure-fire vote-getting meme that there are a bunch of flag burning hippies just waiting to make the latest MLB expansion team the "San Francisco Gay Blades"

I mean, I'm not sure when that something will come along. But how long can this ridiculousness go on? And, when are the Republicans going to get to spend 30 or 40 years denying the existince of some prototypical Republican stereotype which does not exist?

Posted by: hank on June 26, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Could someone help me out with an action plan?

I noticed today that my local supermarket is selling a "Fourth of July Cake" with a red, white, and blue American flag iced onto the top of it. (It just sickens me to think of all the veterans who will have to walk by and see such a thing!) I'm wondering how we will go after all those filthy, America-hating, cake-eating commies after this amendment passes.

Do we prosecute the grocery store?

Do we prosecute the people who eat the cake? (Or do we prosecute them a few days later when the flag is, uh, liberated from them?)

What if they only eat part of the cake and throw the rest away?

If a piece of cake falls on the ground, should it be ritually burned?

And - scariest of all - what if the cake is intended for some horrible children's party where they indoctrinate our youth with a series of twisted rituals involving firecrackers, weenie roasts, and water balloons?

My god, we've got to stop these people or the Battle of the Bulge will have been in vain! Our flag and our freedoms are too important to be entrusted to the people! We need to put Congress in charge.

Whatever happens, remember our motto: Don't let them eat cake!

Posted by: Oregonian on June 26, 2006 at 8:42 PM | PERMALINK

Silly Oregonian. Don't you know that eating the flag is what the Framers truly intended? This is a Christian nation after all. We eat the body of Christ and so we must eat the flag. It's patriotically delicious.

Posted by: enozinho on June 26, 2006 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

It's the canary in the mineshaft.

Anytime you see someone burn a flag and not get arrested it says you live in a free country.

Try burning a Saudi flag or a Burmese one in their country.

Posted by: Richard S. on June 26, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

You can only desecrate something that's sacred.

So that means the American flag is sacred.

So that means the flag desecration ammendment will trump the first ammendment.

Posted by: 2.7182818 on June 26, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Drinker Nisti wrote that Feinstein "has utterly lost my vote."

Please remember that you are never going to agree with your elected representatives all of the time. If you vote to "throw the bastard out" when you disagree 10 or 20% of the time, the inevitable result is bastards you disagree with 60, 70, 80% or more of the time.

Posted by: Joel Rubinstein on June 26, 2006 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK
Congress and state legislatures do trivial, unimportant, symbolic things all the time.

Of course they do, but they don't do them to the Constitution. Passing some silly resolution declaring Underwear Appreciation Day is far different from scribbling on the Constitution in crayon.

Posted by: KCinDC on June 26, 2006 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Once an amendment is passed, it can't be tossed out as unConsitutional because it is, de facto, part of the Constitution. All you can do is pass another amendment repealing it (as was done with Prohibition.)

A proposed Constitutional amendment, IIRC, has to be passed by 2/3? 3/4? of the state legislatures before it's put up to a national vote. The ERA, if you'll recall, couldn't muster the necessary legislature votes.

My guess is the GOP wants a flag-burning amendment on the ballot by 2008, possibly along with a federal anti same-sex marriage amendment, to make sure its base turns out. There's a risk that one or both could also drive up turnout of the non brain-dead - though you'd think that two more years of Bush and his rubber-stamp GOP Congress would do that anyway.

Posted by: CaseyL on June 26, 2006 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's all theater for the fascists - They can pretend to be patriotic without ever really doing anything to help the country - like serve in the military or pay their fair share of taxes.

America needs a flag desecration amendment as much as it needs dinosaur repellent.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 26, 2006 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I understand that during most of what passed for your formal education you were wasted, so here's a little civics lesson for you:

The Senate cannot "pass" an Amendment to the Constitution. The Senate can only pass a bill (by a 2/3 vote of a quorum) that must also be passed by the House by Majority vote. Such a bill becomes a "proposed" amendment and must be ratified by 2/3 of the State Legislatures to amend the Constitution.

OBTW, here's something from Ann Coulter: If the States can pass laws against burning crosses, why can't they ban burning the flag?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 26, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Kudos to cal state disneyland and Repack Rider for their eloquent takedowns of this grotesque right-wing pandering!

By the by, Norman Rogers, there already are laws in most states against burning both crosses and flags, as public burning violates clean air laws. Thank God for liberals.

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on June 26, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

must be ratified by 2/3 of the State Legislatures to amend the Constitution
3/4s of the states (either legislatures or state conventions).
"when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof,"

wikipedia

Posted by: Bill Arnold on June 26, 2006 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Watch China make a fortune out of mass producing flammable US flags.

Posted by: floopmeister on June 26, 2006 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry if someone's pointed this out before, but it would still be legal to burn a pretend-flag that had only 49 stars on it, right? And doing so would have essentially the same expressive content as burning a real flag, right?
Burning an imperfect replica of a flag could be criminalized only on grounds of content, and that would still violate the first amendment even if we had a flag-desecration amendment. And how will a prosecutor prove that a burned item was not in fact a 49-star pretend-flag? There is in reality no way to enforce any law against flag burning.
That doesn't make it okay to pass this amendment; it just makes it even stupider.

Posted by: confused on June 26, 2006 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

Norman: Such a bill becomes a "proposed" amendment and must be ratified by 2/3 of the State Legislatures to amend the Constitution.

The Constitution: "when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof"

What. a. dork.

If Kevin was "wasted" during his formal education, what were you -- asleep?

Posted by: uh huh on June 26, 2006 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

confused,
a real American sees a business opportunity in a Constitution-desecrating admendement like the proposed ban on flag desecration. Prohibition being a case in point; it made many men rich.

Posted by: Bill Arnold on June 26, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

Will the proposed flag burning amendment make the following part of the U.S. Code unconstitutional?

The Flag Code
Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, Section 8(k):

The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

-- sounds like what the Constitutional scholars in the Senate intend is burning the flag in protest is unconstitutional.

I have some questions: Can we burn our Fourth of July flag napkins in the trash after our picnic? Can we arrest foreign nationals visiting the US who burn flags? What about US nationals on foreign soil? Does a person have to have lit the flag to be arrested, or can anyone attending a protest be hauled in if a flag is burned in the middle of a protest march? Can we still burn the Bible and the Koran? How about the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads & the Tao Te Ching?

So many important issues to hash out . . .

By the way, has Korea test launched that new ICBM yet? How are things in Afghanistan? New Orleans???

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 26, 2006 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares what the Iranians think about it. We don't have free speech because we have the first amendment, we have the first amendment because we want free speech.

One correct way to dispose of a flag is to burn it. Burning the flag can also be a protest. The only difference is the thoughts in the mind of the perpetrator. Criminalizing thoughts of protest is stupid.

Posted by: Mark Gilbert on June 26, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Send Feinstein letters where the inside of the envelope shows the flag. Thus, by opening it, she desecrates Ol' Glory.

OBTW, here's something from Ann Coulter: If the States can pass laws against burning crosses, why can't they ban burning the flag?

Shorter Norma: why can't I keep burning crosses?

Burn all the crosses you want, Norma. Just don't wear the hood next time.

Posted by: ahem on June 26, 2006 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

Criminalizing thoughts of protest is stupid.

I burned a flag in my mind about an hour ago, but just to be on the safe side I imagined burning it back in the '60's so the statue of limitations has already passed.

Posted by: sparko on June 26, 2006 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

A few more questions:

If the proposed amendment passes, and in light of the Title 4 of the U.S. Code (the "Flag Code"), can I respectfully dispose of a flag by burning it while simultaneously attending an anti-war rally? If not, how far away from the protest do I have to be to respectfully dispose of a flag by burning it?

If we can't burn the flag will the Constitution still support stomping and spitting?

Will burning my flag-bedecked Fourth of July picnic trash in protest be unconstitutional?

Will burning my USA National Soccer Team t-shirt in protest of the team's lousy performance at the World Cup be unconstitutional? What about melting my flag pin?

What about burning flag insignias -- those red, white and blue patches, logos, etc. that are on everything -- will apparel burning be illegal?

Will burning prints of the artist Jasper Johns's flag in protest be unconstitutional?

Gosh -- this is getting complicated. Better call a lawyer.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on June 26, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

Was I wrong to burn those American flag underwear I "gambled and lost" in that time I...never mind.

Posted by: elmo on June 26, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I was completely shocked when I first heard of Feinstein's support of the amendment a few years ago. (I think she's even a co-sponsor, or has been in the past...) I sent her a "say it ain't so!" letter and received a similar response as Joel's. She has utterly lost my vote. So who's the Green candidate for Senate this year?"

His name is Todd Chretien.

Unlike Dianne Feinstein, he opposes this flag burning amendment, wants to bring the troops home NOW, wants to abolish the USA Patriot Act, wants to end the Death Penalty and our state's draconian Three Strikes law, wants to legalize gay marriage, and favors single-payer health care.

Y'all can find his website here:

http://www.todd4senate.org/

Or, alternately, we can just keep voting for Dianne Feinstein and reinforce her current behavior.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on June 26, 2006 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

I don't really give a shit what some Iranian or Russian or Mexican thinks about our internal laws and policies, even if those law and policies are fucked up. I do give a shit when our international laws and policies make us look like assholes in the eyes of the world. Abu Ghraib, anybody?

Posted by: Pocket Rocket on June 26, 2006 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

we have the first amendment because we want free speech.

Not to be a grammar stickler, but I think that want should be wanted.

This is silly. And Republicat had a very nice point.

If they are going to ban flag burning, then they'll have to define flag. Once they do that, you'll be able to burn anything that looks like a flag but isn't.

So if I start making US flag facsilimes for burning (with say 49 stars) do I get arrested or make a mint?


and adds
Nothing will change except that, as you point out, the U.S. will look stupid.

Well gosh, you guys seem to be trying awfully hard at this (and for the most part succeeding I might add).

And could we have Ms. Feinstein as worked up about something less important like making sure the vote is verifiable?

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 26, 2006 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder how many flags have been burned in our nation's history? My guess is, not very many. But if this dipshit amendment passes, I guarantee that thousands will burn the first week after passage. The dimwits who authored this amendment will set off a frenzy of flag-burning such as we have never seen....

Posted by: cosmo on June 27, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I understand that during most of what passed for your formal education you were wasted, so here's a little civics lesson for you:

The Senate cannot "pass" an Amendment to the Constitution. The Senate can only pass a bill (by a 2/3 vote of a quorum) that must also be passed by the House by Majority vote. Such a bill becomes a "proposed" amendment and must be ratified by 2/3 of the State Legislatures to amend the Constitution.

OBTW, here's something from Ann Coulter: If the States can pass laws against burning crosses, why can't they ban burning the flag?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 26, 2006 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers keeps his first rule by throwing spurious insults . . . and then getting it wrong. Surprise!

There have been a few others also. Repeat:

Saam Barrager --
after 2/3 majority in (both) house and senate it needs ratification by 3/4 of all states before adoption.

Posted by: notthere on June 26, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Read Article V of the constitution. I do not know of any amendment to it.

Posted by: notthere on June 27, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

I forgot. WTF does Ann Coulter have to say about anything? If you rate her rant stay with it. Don't bother with sane debate. Her sole goal is attention. And she's not smart or even good looking.

Posted by: notthere on June 27, 2006 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

I think this is something that Rush Limbaugh can run up the flag pole and see if it flies. Oh, they took away his Viagra. I guess Congress will just have to do something incredibly stupid on their own.

They have completely run out of ideas for governing the country, these Republicans. Why don't they all just resign now, rather than run out the clock. Adjourn the idiots.

Posted by: Sparko on June 27, 2006 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Not that it'll do any good, but I just sent Feinstein an email promising to vote against every Democrat running in California if she voted for the amendment. Maybe appeals to craven party loyalty will work where appeals to principle don't. (Hah, and I'm not even a Democrat.)

If you vote to "throw the bastard out" when you disagree 10 or 20% of the time, the inevitable result is bastards you disagree with 60, 70, 80% or more of the time.

Sometimes that 10% or 20% is the most important. Feinstein's support for the amendment tells me that she has no idea what her proper duties as a US Senator are. I'll gladly vote for someone I disagree with on more issues if I trust that they agree with me on the proper role of legislation.

Unlike Dianne Feinstein, he opposes this flag burning amendment, wants to bring the troops home NOW, wants to abolish the USA Patriot Act, wants to end the Death Penalty and our state's draconian Three Strikes law, wants to legalize gay marriage, and favors single-payer health care.

Huh. Well, I guess I agree with most of that, and about half of the positions on his web page, which is probably more than I agree with Feinstein on. Looks like I agree with the Libertarian to about an equal extent, so it'll come down to a coin toss on election day.

I think this is a very good year to support a third party in the CA Senate race, because the GOP candidate is token opposition and Feinstein will cream him no matter what. So if everyone who felt like voting Green or Libertarian actually did, it might accomplish something.

If the States can pass laws against burning crosses, why can't they ban burning the flag?

I don't think there should be a law against burning crosses, Norman, as long as it's your cross on your property. I support your right to do that, and I support black folks' right to own and carry assault rifles.

Posted by: Nat on June 27, 2006 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: send on June 27, 2006 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

To all: quite right -- it's 2/3 of both houses and 3/4 of the states.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 27, 2006 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK

It's ironic that so many people want to outlaw burning of pieces of cloth--American flags--most of which are made in China.

Posted by: raj on June 27, 2006 at 8:03 AM | PERMALINK

Looks like our government will go the way of the American pig-car, loaded down with useless accessories and a drunk at the wheel...

Posted by: serial catowner on June 27, 2006 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

Sure, the whole concept is profoundly silly. But remember the main reason why they are doing it - to put Democrats on the defensive. That's why I can understand some like Feinstein deciding that this is a battle they'd rather not fight. Sort of like Bill Clinton deciding he wasn't going to fight the death penalty battle.

If you refrain from voting for Deomocrats like Feinstein because of siliness like this, you are playing directly into the Republicans' hands. This amendment will probably never be enacted, and if it is, so what? Some folks will have a lot of fun testing its limits.

Message: Dont' let this distract from our most imporatant goal - ending the Republican control of both houses of Congress.

Posted by: Virginia Dutch on June 27, 2006 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

If the intent is to put Democrats on the defensive, what message do we send the voting public by quickly sounding our surrender? It just reinforces the GOP's talking points about weak-willed Democrats. I'm sorry, but this IS an important issue and it disgusts me that we might be so close to crossing out the First Ammendment from our Constitution. Supporting this ammendment is profoundly un-American on the most basic level. It is a strike against freedom and everything this nation and our flag stands for. Revoking freedom of speech is a grave matter, no matter how silly the circumstance may seem. It is action completely divorced from the morals and priciples of our nation. It is an affront to message of freedom and democracy we claim to promote to the world. It is wrong, and I cannot support any politician who cannot see that. This is the closest thing I have to a litmus test, only because the issue is so important and also so obvious. Opposing the first ammendment is not acceptable and it will not aid the cause of ending Republican control of congress.

Posted by: BStu on June 27, 2006 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Your plastic flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore..its already overcrowded from your dirty little war. (John Prine circa the Vietnam era)

Posted by: neil on June 27, 2006 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

I vote that 'GOP' should henceforth stand for Grandstanding Old Party.

Posted by: JB (not John Bolton) on June 27, 2006 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Sure, the whole concept is profoundly silly. But remember the main reason why they are doing it - to put Democrats on the defensive. That's why I can understand some like Feinstein deciding that this is a battle they'd rather not fight."

What rot. Feinstein isn't just quietly voting for it in order to abstain from the fight. Feinstein wrote an op-ed in the USA-To-freaking-day celebrating this bill. She's a proud supporter of this bill.

If you vote for Dianne Feinstein in November, you are sending her the message that her proud support of this flag-burning amendment (much less her support for the Iraq War, her support for the Patriot Act, her support for the death penalty, and her opposition to single-payer health care) is a-okay with you. If that's the message you wanna send to her, then by all means, cast your vote accordingly.

If not, then please vote for Todd Chretien of the Green Party.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on June 27, 2006 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

If flag burning is desecration,what about the words "made in china" stamped on the flag.If the flag is such an inspirational object for our country,shouldn't it be made in America.I am offended more by seeing foreign made U.S.A flags than seeing it burned.Shouldn't it be required by law to be made in America,and if so then who would make them.We probably wouldn't have to worry about flag burning anymore,because we would know longer have any to burn.

Posted by: rdm on June 27, 2006 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm.
Maybe we need some language in the amendment defining desecration to include manufacture thereof outside the borders of the USA.
With a great deal of detail included to illuminate the fact that most are in fact made in communist countries by sweat-shop labor.

Posted by: kenga on June 27, 2006 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

I got yer free-market solution right here ...

Posted by: kenga on June 27, 2006 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

If people want to see flags being burnt, pass this amendment. I'll start immediately buying flags and burning them on pedestrian highway overpasses. I bet a lot of people would.

I remember how these people retargeted the debate right before the Iraq War. The question we should have been asking was, would it make sense for the United States to unilaterally invade this country? But the question that was debated was: "Is Saddam Hussein a good guy or a bad guy?" with the clear implication that if "bad guy" wins, we invade. And that's how the prewar debate went.

Now this is similar. The question we should be asking is: are we going to start throwing people in prison for burning flags? But the debate is turning into this: "Does our flag deserve protection?" As if we were going to just spray it with a weatherproofing compound, instead of actually holding political prisoners.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on June 27, 2006 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Passing a law to ban flag burning only makes sense if you want to see more of it.

Posted by: clb72 on June 27, 2006 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Given that service personnel swear an oath to protect and uphold the U.S. Constitution how is it that so many seem to be under the impression that it's the flag that they serve or served to protect?

Time for a Constitutional Protection Amendment? Or how about a Constitutional Security Agency? That might be interesting - a governmental agency whose sole purpose is to monitor other governmental bodies and agencies against threats to the Constitution.
Wiretapping the NSA, FBI, CIA, DOJ, DOD, NSC, Congress, SCOTUS, etc. as a condition of funding.
Heh.

Posted by: kenga on June 27, 2006 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Back after 9/11 when it still was fashionable to attach flags to almost every vehicle in the country. A number of patriotic truckers attached flags to their rigs. After several weeks or so, many of their flags got so much dirt, grime, oil, etc on them, many were nearly black. Was this carelessness, oversight, or a political statement? Under a constitutional amendment, would this be desecration? If its a company truck, who goes to jail, the trucker or some company official?

Posted by: Ray Waldren on June 27, 2006 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

But the debate is turning into this: "Does our flag deserve protection?"

Why isn't the debate: "Does our flag need protection?"

What's next, an amendment that prohibits calling the President's mother a whore?


Posted by: not-a-flag-desecrator on June 27, 2006 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Why isn't the debate: "Does our flag need protection?"

Because they'd lose a debate framed that way. As a political symbol the flag "needs" nothing but "deserves" everything. You're thinking like a wonk, not a hack. A wonk asks, does our flag need protection? And a hack asks, "Doesn't our flag deserve protection?" and "Why would anyone be opposed to giving Americans the right to protect their flag?" That's how they talk.

Screw burning the flag. They should address our real problems. Make an amendment against puncturing the housing bubble. ;)

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on June 27, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

It will be a hoot watching the Congress and the states trying to pass a follow-up constitutional amendment banning the burning of copies of the Constitution once this anti-flag-burning amendment gets approved. After all, what is the value of banning the burning of the thing which represents the primary foundation for the nation when all of those hoodlums can burn copies of the primary artifact itself? Of course, how does one then square the ban on burning copies of the primary document with the allowance for such burning contained in the primary document itself? Even these amendments will wind up before the USSC because of the inherent contradictions contained in them. They may result in the 21st century equivalent of the Dred Scott Decision, but they will be argued nonetheless.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan on June 27, 2006 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Should also be mentioned that our restrictions on stem cell research and available birth control methods will also present us in a light that is anything but free and progressive.

Posted by: coffeequeen on June 27, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: You can burn a cross (assuming you don't violate local fire laws), you just can't do it on somebody else's front yard.

Posted by: Jose Padilla on June 27, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'm basically for anything that continues to make this country a laughingstock. Reducto ad absurdum, or however that goes. The quicker the downfall comes the quicker we can get around to rebuilding it again.

So bring the flag Amendment, bring the treason trial against the NYT, bring the failed strike on the Iranian nuke program followed by a "necessary" ground invasion, bring it, bring it, bring it all.

Get it the fuck over with, already.

Posted by: Jim J on June 27, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

two things people are missing here, I think: first off, when His Majesty signs flags, he's not 'desecrating them' he's IMPROVING them, since he's more important than the flag in the first place. Seriously, if Jesus signs a relic, is it desecration?

Second off, think of this as the Death Penalty Avoidance Act of 2006. Most states now use lethal injection, right? so simply get a perfect American Flag tattoo on the places where the IVs are implanted, putting a hole in the flag is certainly desecration, right? voila! no more lethal injections, they'd be illegal!

Posted by: northzax on June 27, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

JAIL? TOO GOOD FOR 'EM. LET'S DEPORT THEM. THEN THEY CAN BURN AS MANY AMERICAN FLAGS AS THEY LIKE . . . IN PARIS OR BEIRUT OR NAIROBI OR TEHRAN.

IT'S ONE THING TO PROTEST AMERICAN POLICY OR AN ADMINISTRATION; PROTESTING THE U.S. ITSELF IN THIS WAY IS PROCLAIMING ONESELF TO BE AN ENEMY OF THE UNITED STATES. FINE. GOOD-BYE, ENEMY. IF YOU WANT TO FIGHT US, WE'LL PERMIT YOU TO LIVE AND FIGHT US FROM WITHOUT, NOT FROM WITHIN; SORT OF LIKE REMOVING A WORM FROM ONE'S INTESTINES.

TOH

Posted by: The Objective Historian on June 27, 2006 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

so what are they going to do? Throw more people in jail? We are already locking people up over trivial crimes and letting off those who commit larger ones. I just wonder if the Congress ever takes a look in the mirror.

I think one might wonder why anyone would burn the flag. Does it do any good? Of course it is a better way of letting off steam than burning down a city.

I have two sons in the active branches of service. They would prefer Congress spend their time solving some real problems.

Posted by: Cherie on June 27, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK
If you vote for Dianne Feinstein in November, you are sending her the message that her proud support of this flag-burning amendment (much less her support for the Iraq War, her support for the Patriot Act, her support for the death penalty, and her opposition to single-payer health care) is a-okay with you. If that's the message you wanna send to her, then by all means, cast your vote accordingly.

If not, then please vote for Todd Chretien of the Green Party.

Lets assume you've given me a convincing reason not to vote for Feinstein; why do you think that translates into voting for Chretien?

There are six people running in that race, after all, and Chretien isn't the only one to the left of Feinstein. And if you resort to arguing that Chretien is a more serious candidate than the P&FP's Marsha Feinland, why doesn't the same argument still support voting for Feinstein despite her problems over Chretien?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 27, 2006 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

What if I burn a piece of paper with the words "American Flag" on it?

Posted by: Tripp on June 27, 2006 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Lets assume you've given me a convincing reason not to vote for Feinstein; why do you think that translates into voting for Chretien? There are six people running in that race, after all, and Chretien isn't the only one to the left of Feinstein. And if you resort to arguing that Chretien is a more serious candidate than the P&FP's Marsha Feinland, why doesn't the same argument still support voting for Feinstein despite her problems over Chretien?"

Any California progressive who feels that Marsha Feinland's platform and policy stances more closely mirror their own values than any other candidate should, by all means, vote for Marsha Feinland. I'm unfamiliar with Marsha Feinland's platform or background, so I can't really comment on her, positively or negatively. But if your progressive heart says "Marsha," then vote for Marsha. I certainly won't stand in your way.

And, by that same token, any California progressive who agrees with Dianne Feinstein on such issues as the flag burning amendment, the continuation of the occupation of Iraq, support for this president's illegal warrantless spying, support for the USA Patriot Act, and opposition to single-payer health care should definitely vote for Dianne Feinstein. I would never try to persuade such a voter to do otherwise.

Personally, though, I find Todd Chretien's progressive values and principles a very close match for my own, and so that's why I will be voting for Todd Chretien in November.

Patrick Meighan
Venice, CA

"Todd Chretien is a personal friend of mine. He is a man of integrity and peace. I encourage all Californians to take a hard look at his campaign." --Cindy Sheehan

Posted by: Patrick Meighan on June 27, 2006 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK
I think this is a very good year to support a third party in the CA Senate race, because the GOP candidate is token opposition and Feinstein will cream him no matter what. So if everyone who felt like voting Green or Libertarian actually did, it might accomplish something.

perverse as it would be in a seriously contested election, as it is less likely to lead to electing the major party candidate least attractive to the minor party voters, I think its pretty odd to say that honest rather than tactical voting is likely to "accomplish something" because the winner of the election is essentially known in advance.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 27, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

----Samuel Johnson, quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson, English author, critic, & lexicographer (1709 - 1784)

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris on June 27, 2006 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

And the abuse of First Amendment rights to denigrate the sacifice of United States soldiers throughout our history is the too easily choosen refuge of a craven traitor, protected, for now, by those very soldiers.

----TOH, written in the Political Animal Blog, 2006

Posted by: The Objective Historian on June 27, 2006 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm...which one will people still be quoting two hundred years from now, Dr. Johnson or the Objectionable Histrionic?

Posted by: Stefan on June 27, 2006 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

Suppose you have a stealth member tagging along at a public protest. He can burn a flag, and everyone in the protest will be arrested and have a felony on their record. No federal jobs, no federal programs for any of them. Should work nicely.
I guess burning Australian Flags would be almost as jolting, but legal.

Posted by: cdm on June 27, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

It might be fun to burn the confederate flag.

Posted by: Nads on June 27, 2006 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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