Wednesday, June 22, 2005

U.S. House Seeks To Raise Flag To Religious Item Status

In a seriously moral question, and as a an act of political grandstanding, the U.S. House has voted for a constitutional ban on American flag burning. This goes far beyond the respect all Americans should have for their country and the flag that represents America. It is the attempted elevation of the American flag to religious status by Congress.

This is a direct affront to the prohibitions in the Torah and Christian Old Testament Bible, not to worship any item as a religious article, or a "golden calf" other than God. Several years ago, some religious persons such as Jehovah's Witnesses had to go to court to prevent their children from being forced to make a form of prayer to the flag in the guise of the "flag salute". Being a good citizen who respects America and the flag as a symbol of America is one thing, but this next step by Congress is a further elevation of the flag to sacred religious status.

There are already some religious persons, such as Gerald Flurry of the Philadelphia Church Of God that already speculate that the terrorist problems that America face are a fulfillment of the promised Biblical curses for a disobedient nation promised as "terror" in the Bible. The question is, if America begins to officially protect the flag as a religious article, will God further punish America with more curses? This raises some serious questions when one of the most important violations of God's law is officially embraced by a politically moltivated Congress.

And those are the religious questions raised. But what about the secular questions?

The Founding Fathers of America did not intend for there to be any prohibitions on free speech. The First Amendment was intended to be an absolute, that was intended to protect even the most controversial or offensive speech. Yet both courts, police agencies and lawmakers have steadily sought to chip away at this basic premise that American freedom is build upon.

At one time American leftists such as communists were rounded up by the government for no crime other than publishing a political newspaper. And although some sexually offensive speech is not constructive to a Christian walk, many have been arrested, imprisoned, fined and had business assets seized by government for claimed "obscene" speech violations. Political protestors have had a steadily stream of restrictions on their ability to protest policies they disagree with. Some claimed offensive broadcasters like Howard Stern have been fined for claimed "decency" violations in broadcasting. And offensive organizations such as Nazis and KKK members have been denied the right to march, which an organization like the ACLU had to go to court to protect their rights to also express their political views in a free America.

Not all speech is pleasant or morally uplifting. Yet in a free society like America, there seems to have been no effort from the founding fathers to limit protest or even offensive speech. In fact the Boston Tea Party, protesting a tax to be paid to the King of England, was an early form of protest embraced by the founding fathers.

Now years after a single communist protestor burned a flag during a Republican Convention in Reagan's day, Congress is seeking to politically grandstand to again by a further weakening of America's free speech promises. American values like free speech are what are supposed to seperate America from totalitarian societies. Indeed so many American soldiers have given their lives for American values embraced in the nation's Constitution and contained in the Bill Of Rights. Now a politically moltivated Congress wants to limit those freedom ideals.

America's flag should be treated respectfully as a symbol of America. But should not be elevated either to religious staus or weakened from Bill Of Rights political protection if used for political protesting of American policies. Besides the rare examples of politically moltivated flag burning, what other supposed "disrespectful" acts may be punished under a flag protection bill. Is a red, white and blue painted racecar respectful or disrespectful. What about clothing. Are flag dyed clothing, a sign of respect or disrepect. And what about how retailers treat all the flags they sell in stores. Most of these are inexpensive items made in China. After 9/11 one Portland, Oregon grocery store, Albertsons had so many American flags left over that were unsold, that they threw them by the hundreds into a dropbox with rotted vegetables and rats crawling over them. Is this disrespectful, or simply a normal marketing operation for Albertsons for dealing with a cheaply made Chinese commodity that did not sell well.

Congress raises too many bad legal questions with the flag amendment. And this is from a Congress constantly seeking to limit legal liabilities or court cases, yet seems to want to create so many more court cases for all the new questions this raises. And a further question is this, the flag burning prohibition bill is not actually amending the U.S. Constitution, but the Bill Of Rights. Can the Bill Of Rights be abridged or not? This is whole new legal question. Congress may limit the rights of so many injured parties to sue for injuries, but now seems to want to create years and years of expensive court cases centered around this flag amendment if passed. But then again, just what do you expect from politicians.


At 8:33 AM, Blogger Erich said...

Paul, While I agree with your argument that this is a ridiculous attempt at grandstanding by the GOP, you pose a question in post, "Can the Bill Of Rights be abridged or not?"

As has been upheld by the Supreme Court, there ARE limitations to free speech. You cannot yell "fire" in a theater, You cannot say things like "hijack" or "bomb" on an airplane or in an airport, and they have ruled that "fighting words" are not protected speech.

Now again, I agree with you, I think that flag burning should be protected under the First Ammendment, but I can see the other side using the afore mentioned precidents as a defense for their tramplimg of our rights.

I believe that we need to frame the argument differently than saying you can't abridge the First Ammendment, because it has already been done.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger PamB said...

I am afraid I have very conflicting emotions on the topic of Flag desecration.

On the one hand, I am fiercly Pro-Rights, including if one wants to burn a flag as a show of their contempt for the government, but on the other hand, when I see our flag burned by our own countrymen, I am absolutely appalled at the symbol of their disrespect for the country.
Therefore, I cannot offer a judgement either way.

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