June 9, 2006 Leave a comment
from all the burning flags? You haven't? Obviously, there's a crisis of flag burning so important that the U.S. Senate is set to vote to amend the Constitution on the matter. Here's some good thoughts on the matter from the New York Times, which I agree with. And here's what Colin Powell has said in the past about the matter.
My take? The first amendment is our most fundamental freedom and its protection of political speech is the heart and soul of the first amendment. The whole point is to protect speech which is a minority viewpoint and which is critical of the government. Speech of which the government approves is not in need of Constitutional protection. No, I've never burned a flag, nor do I plan on it, but at its heart it is a very clear and very potent political speech, basically, “down with America.” What makes this country so great is that we tolerate speech like that, and simply combat it with additional speech, rather than lock people up in jail for that. If you favor punishing people for their political sentiments, perhaps you would find Iran's government more suitable.
Furthermore, tinkering with the Constitution over a non-issue (there's not exactly a spate of flag burnings going on) demeans this amazing document that has served us so well. The Constitution has only been amended 17 times (the first 10 were all at once) in our nation's history. Amendments are best left to necessary changes in the structure of government (e.g., direct election of Senators) or the basic rights of the people (e.g., 14th amendment and women's right to vote). Trying to prohibit people's behaviors through the Constitution is not such a good idea (see Prohibition).