Yesterday, the Senate failed to pass a proposed Constitutional amendment to permit laws banning flag burning. It failed by one vote. Phew!
The rationale behind this vote was a Republican effort to pander to the right wing of their party, especially as the mid-term elections draw near. Plain and simple. Any rhetoric to the contrary is hogwash.
How else to explain this? I mean, when was the last time a flag-burning incident even made news? About 30 years ago? It’s not as if this is something that is crying out for action. A law banning flag burning is about as critically needed right now as a law banning jaywalking on the moon.
Now I know that there are those, due to their distorted sense of what is or is not patriotic, who genuinely believe that such an amendment is important. Still, I find it hard to understand how even these folks can get so worked up about this issue. Many of them are having trouble earning a decent wage; they are watching their pensions and health care benefits evaporate while tax cuts provide benefits mainly to the most wealthy members of our society. Yet, flag burning is where they want to put their energy? Oh well. You don’t have to be rational to vote.
In the end, I would not have gotten too worked up about this issue even if the amendment measure had passed. It’s not as if it will ever have any effect on my daily life. Still, I object on principle and on concerns about a slippery slope. The principle is that Americans should have the right to protest in whatever way they see fit, as long as it does not harm others. It’s a First Amendment issue. As the victims of oppressive governments have been saying for centuries: you must protect the rights of those you disagree with, or someday your rights may be taken away by those who disagree with you!
Finally, I see that Dianne Feinstein, one of the Senators from my new home state of California, voted in support of this bill. Now Dianne is a Democrat, and someone who I had assumed was generally aware of her surroundings and showing no indication of brain trauma. So I was hard pressed to understand her motivation here. As I have now learned (see this Web site), Diane’s decision here is not exactly an isolated incident. Oh well.