An attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution to allow Congress to prohibit acts of desecration to the American Flag failed to secure the 67 votes necessary to send it to the states for ratification.
In my view, this is the crux of what true freedom of speech means. It means defending even the most despicable verbal comments or harmless acts of protest, including flag burning, even when we find it personally utterly offensive. Any compromise on this position begins that slippery slope to “interpreting” away our individual rights.
The party that was founded to champion liberty, Republican, only showed one member voting against it – Ron Paul. Given his libertarian background, it’s not surprising he’d vote this way. What is surprising is that he’s the only Republican with an ounce of common sense.
Murray Rothbard had an interesting take on the the whole flag-burning issue which I think resolves the issue with little room for debate:
Keeping our eye on property rights, the entire flag question is resolved easily and instantly. Everyone has the right to buy or weave and therefore own a piece of cloth in the shape and design of an American flag (or in any other design) and to do with it what he will: fly it, burn it, defile it, bury it, put it in the closet, wear it, etc. Flag laws are unjustifiable laws in violation of the rights of private property. (Constitutionally, there are many clauses in the Constitution from which private property rights can be derived.)
On the other hand, no one has the right to come up and burn your flag, or someone else’s. That should be illegal, not because a flag is being burned, but because the arsonist is burning your property without your permission. He is violating your property rights.
What baffles me about this whole deal is that I didn’t know that there was such a rash of rampant flag burning going on in this country that there actually needed to be a constitutional amendment against the activity.
In other news…
I’m trying to get rid of my last cache of Soundtrack to My Car copies before I come out with the new CD. Go click on Buy Stuff up top and buy my CD.
That’s it for now. I’ll be posting in a bit on the news RE: the Oblong Box.