Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Why, Dianne, why?

So it's back to this again.

The Senate again wants to amend the Constitution to prevent flag desecration. Such a thing has been bandied around for a while, and I guess I'm kind of used to it. But why is Dianne Feinstein co-sponsoring it?

Her web site has a speech of hers about it, which contains some enlightening tidbits:

I support this amendment because I believe flag burning is content, not speech, and can be regulated as such. But to my friends who would argue otherwise, I remind them that even the right to free speech is not unrestricted. For example, the Government can prohibit speech that threatens to cause imminent tangible harm, or shouting "fire'' in a crowded theater. Obscenity and false advertising are not protected under the first amendment, and indecency over the broadcast media can be limited to certain times of day.

Yes. And to all my friends who are opposed to legalized heroin, I would point out to them that aspirin and caffeine are legal, and even tobacco with certain restrictions.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Diane Feinstein (D-CA) must be going the way of Jane Harman (D-Los Angeles) - that is confronting increasing nationalism with increasing spinelessness! Boo to both of them! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

Truly disappointing. She will get a letter from me.  

// posted by Law Talking Guy

Dr. Strangelove said...

Burning a nation's flag is a simple and dramatic way to express one's unhappiness with that nation's policies. Like giving someone the finger, burning a nation's flag is a non-verbal gesture that sends a clear message of contempt. It is an act of communication that transcends barriers of culture and language.

One might argue that the same could be said of burning a cross. The difference is that burning a cross is also a genuine death threat used to harrass and intimdate. Burning a flag, on the other hand, is not a threat but a shout of anger.

Some want to ban flag-burning because they hate the message and want to silence that shout--a clearer abridgment of free speech rights would be hard to find. Others believe it should be banned because the flag, as a symbol, is sacred. But if the First Amendment means anything about the intersection of speech, religion, and politics, it surely means that there is no room for the charge of sacrilege or heresy in American political discourse.

Even though I highly disapprove of burning the flag, it is not right in a free society to ban harmless acts of which you disapprove. It is appropriate and sufficient to disapprove.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Sen. Feinstein likened protecting the flag to protecting a monument.

Now I actually don't mind passing legislation to protect certain specific flags, like ones that have been draped over coffins or the one raised over Iwo Jima, because those are, in a way, monuments. But the cheap replicas made in China you can buy at any drug store are not. And protecting the right to free speech is more important than protecting any monument anyhow.

Anonymous said...

I'm remembering that most Americans chuckled when they heard how upset Muslims got about the rumors of a Koran being flushed down the toilet at "Gitmo." John Stewart said, "Apparently it was their only copy."

Now, compare how rediculous we find the Muslim reaction to our own politicians' willingness to use the same kind of reaction to score cheap political points. Feinstein should know better but does not.

Hey Bell Curve, do you remember what the number of the bill was? I'd like to look up how all the Senators voted. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

LTG, you can write the Senator, but don't expect to hear back. I never have.

I wrote Boxer once. I never go a reply, but her campaign called me for a contribution. Yeah. Right.

Dr, Strangelove, once the flag is burned, how will we know if it was a $5 china job or a flag from a coffin? 

// posted by USWest

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest: I do not think one can determine the pedigree of a flag just by examining it after it has been burnt. If my compromise version of a flag protection act passes, my advice to protesters would be: keep your receipt :-)

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is a comment on Americans or Australians, but I must admit to being surprised with the honour that is placed in a piece of cloth in the US. I know it is a symbol, but often foreigners are amused by the US sincerity and heart-on-the-sleave attitude that can come springing out at you. Apart from it's innocence, it may appear to lack depth.

If you burnt an Australian flag people would be more interested in why you were doing it. Mind you our flag sucks: just burning the flag would probably earn you a beer. I'd be curious how Canadians would handle such an event. They identify very strongly with the maple leaf as a national symbol -- usually to distinguish themselves from the US -- so that could be an interesting comparison. 

// posted by Koala Boy

Anonymous said...

I think Canadians get upset about burning hockey sticks or something. Just kidding. Canadians don't get upset by anything.

Koala Boy you and your wise, beer drinking countrymen are not the only ones puzzled by this nationalist flag obsession. Many Americans find it odd as well. And many Americans would rather have the right to burn a flag we otherwise think symbolizes something good (our home) than have it kept safe at the exspense of our liberty.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I thought the flag was supposed to be incinerated if it got too soiled/faded/threadbare?

 

// posted by Burt

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is the only appropriate way to dispose of a tattered flag. I've seen many cars with Bush campaign stickers and American flags fixed to their windows. After driving a few miles those flags get so tattered that rules for proper treatment of flags would require that these be burned. But these self appointed uber-patriots keep them flying as shreds. And when they finally do get rid of them I'm sure they just throw them away.

But asking them to see how silly this whole business is would be asking too much of such thoughtless people. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

The flag is a cult symbol, a fetish. If people really honored their country, the flag wouldn't be an issue.

The flag is a fashion symbol. People where it on tee-shirts, socks, hats. They post it all over their car, etc. They've done something similar to the Union Jack, and in some circles, the Confederate flag.

Here's the dirty little secret about Americans: Many of them are feelers. Few of them are thinkers. Once you understand that, you understand exactly why the nation is in such a mess. So our Aussie friend has pegged the majority of Americans dead on. Naive feelers.

What more do you expect from a nation where the majority of the population doesn't have a passport?
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

American attachment to the flag goes right back to the original rebellion in 1776, when flying a new flag was THE statement of nationhood. The new flag quickly adopted was the British Red Ensign (red flag with Union jack in the upper left corner) modified. They replaced the largely blue Union Jack with a circle of white stars on blue, and put 6 white stripes across the red field (making 13 stripes). So flag-as-symbol-of-identity has very early origins. By contrast, Australia has kept the Union Jack in its flag, and Canada replaced it in the 1960s with a homey symbol (a leaf). During the initial period of nationbuilding and the Civil War, the American Flag was the primary expression of nationhood, particularly in an increasingly multiethnic and multilingual country engaged in a genocidal war against the natives. It separated "us" from "them". It defined "us." During two world wars and the Cold War, the US Flag was again the major focus of nationalism and expression of national identity. We didn't have the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace during the blitz. It was a flag. During the Cold War, anti-American demonstrators abroad, and anti-war demonstrators at home, picked up on this and burned the flag as a protest against America. They could have burned the US constitution or effigies of the liberty bell, but they weren't what WE were waving everywhere. Unlike most European countries (in the post-fascist/post-communist period) Americans began a national custom of regularly saluting the flag about 100 years ago. Flag salutes for elementary school kids (in public schools) were part of the acculturation of new immigrants beginning in the 1890s. There are eerie pictures from the early 1900s of kids giving the nazi salute to the US flag (the nazis were not creative - just borrowed a common form of salute, which thereafter nobody else has used). Like most Americans, I said the pledge of allegiance, hand over heart, facing the flag, every morning for the better part of 12 years of school.

It's no wonder, then, that Americans react so viscerally to burning our flag. And it should be obvious that burning the American flag is a protected freedom PRECISELY because it is such a powerful symbolic and expressive act. As others have noted, burning the flag is the actually the proper method of disposal. What anti-flag-burners want to punish is not the act of carbonization, but the THOUGHTS in the minds of the flag-burners and the IDEAS they intend to communicate by doing so publicly. In other words, it is a quintessential act of political expression. Shame, shame on Senator Feinstein for not understanding any of this.  

// posted by Law Talking Guy

Anonymous said...

Well, as Eddie Izzard"(Brit comedian) once joked whne speaking about the British Empire:

"We stole countries! That's how you build an empire. We stole countries with the cunning use of flags! Sail halfway around the world, stick a flag in. "I claim India for Britain."

And they're going, "You can't claim us. We live here! There's five hundred million of us."

"Do you have a flag?"

"We don't need a flag, this is our country you bastard!"

"No flag no country."
 

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

LTG, you are such a feeler!

US West, I don't know why but I'm getting the idea that the Monty Python bit about live organ donation is a metaphor for British imperialism...."Uh, yes, we're here for your liver." "But, I'm using it." "Is this your signature on this organ donor form?" "Uh...yes..." "Right! This will only take minute."

OK, back to packing. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

The comment that flag burning is "content not speech" is a disgrace. She meant CONDUCT , not content. Content  is, of course, speech. In fact, content-based regulation is the most highly scrutinized and disfavored form of speech regulation under the constitution. A Freudian slip, perhaps?

Democrats will do far better in the long run to stand on free speech principles, than to buy into wedge issue politics and act like Republicans. People know how to vote for Republicans when they want to.  

// posted by Law Talking Guy

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