Tuesday, December 06, 2005
Senator Hillary Clinton is supporting a bill that would ban flag burning, but she is opposed to a constitutional ban on the act.
Clinton is co-sponsoring a bill that would make it a crime to destroy a flag on federal property, intimidate anyone by burning a flag or burning someone else's flag.
A spokesperson for the Senator says Clinton supports making flag burning a crime, but is hesitant to amend the Constitution.
Clinton's move to co-sponsor the bill is seen by many observers as an apparent attempt to win over conservative voters as she preps for a possible run for the White House in 2008.
I can understand the rationale behind banning burning someone else's flag, and burning the flag as intimidation (similar to cross-burning). But why ban destroying a flag on federal property? Is it not on federal property where a protest against the government most likely may take place? Let's talk about flag burning, and let me explain why Hillary's move just took away any chance of her getting a vote from me in the primary. In 1984, Gregory Lee Johnson protested the Republican Convention in Texas. His chosen form of protest: burning the American flag (Johnson is pictured on the right). Johnson's action was prohibited under Texas law, so he was arrested, fined, and sentenced to a year in prison. His case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. That court held that a ban on flag-burning was unconstitutional.
Justice Brennan, writing for the majority, explained that although burning the flag may be offensive, it is a form of critical--and protected--expression:
The way to preserve the flag's special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong. "To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present, unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." And, precisely because it is our flag that is involved, one's response to the flag burner may exploit the uniquely persuasive power of the flag itself. We can imagine no more appropriate response to burning a flag than waving one's own, no better way to counter a flag burner's message than by saluting the flag that burns, no surer means of preserving the dignity even of the flag that burned than by -- as one witness here did -- according its remains a respectful burial. We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.
Those that seek to ban flag-burning properly point out tha the flag represents freedom and democracy. But you know what I also see in that flag? Today's American flag has come to represent corruption, war crimes, and discrimination. I see it and I see flag-drapped coffins. I see it flying over Gitmo while perpetual prisoners pace like animals in its shadow. Sure, the flag represents freedom and all that good in this country. But woven into it is every atrocity, every mistake, every shameful action taken in its name.
So burning that flag is not a statement against freedom, but a statement against all that we don't want that flag to represent.
Hillary's actions sicken me. They sicken me because they are tinged with fascism, the silencing of dissent, and the homogenization of our attitude towards the government. This is a dangerous trend. Hearing about this, as well as the ACLU stepping up for a student's right to sit down during the pledge, infuriates me.
She can kick out protesters from her meetings, she can ban flag-burning, and she can court all the damn NASCAR votes she wants, but she just lost any chance at my vote. Fuck that bitch.How's THAT for free speech?