Thursday, June 23, 2005

Flag Amendment - by Ichabod Crane

An Open letter to the President and members of Congress (and yes, I sent it to them directly!).
Dear Sir(s):

It seems that the Congress is again trying to make an amendment to protect the symbol of our liberty. It seems oxymoronic to me that they would deprive someone of their liberty for their having done nothing more than ‘desecrating’ a piece of cloth, regardless of the design on that cloth.

Please do not misunderstand me, I am a Marine Corps Veteran of the Vietnam War and love my country and its flag dearly; however, I love the freedoms and liberties that it represents even more. Of course I would rather that a person who would burn a flag in protest first wrap it around themselves; but, better a piece of cloth burnt than to punish a person for an act that harms absolutely no one.

This amendment would lead to a plethora of unenforceable laws that conceivably would criminalize a huge segment of the population for such things as having a pen with a flag motif; disposing of a used envelope improperly if it had a flag stamp on it; proudly wearing clothing that had designs based on the flag1; displaying and disposing of bunting and other decorations; etc.

I spent four years in the USMC and had the sad duty on many occasions to be part of a color-guard detail at military funerals for fallen comrades, casualties of the war in Vietnam. I always felt that we were fighting for what the flag represented, not for the object itself.

Then I have to ask just how big of a problem all this flag burning really is anyway? When and where, in this country, was this dastardly deed done recently? How often does it happen that Congress feels the need to modify that wonderful document that is our Constitution?

Our country is defined by our constitution and as such, in order for us to be the Land of the Free, there should never be a “Thou Shall Not…” in it directed towards the people; but rather, all the “Thou Shall Nots” should be exclusively directed towards the government, in order to protect the people.

The Bill of Rights is full of “Congress Shall Nots” and that is the direction that the founders wanted it to go. Note that there is nothing in the Bill of Rights proscribing the people from any action; that is what it means to be free.

This proposed amendment to protect the flag from desecration is, in reality, a desecration of the freedoms and liberties that the flag symbolizes. It is folly. Please do not go down that road, sir.

I would hold you in the highest regard were you to openly oppose this amendment. Explain it to the people how it would negate the very Constitution that the flag represents. Explain that it would hold the symbol in higher regard than that which it symbolizes.

I realize that many of my fellow veterans do not share my point of view, but I believe they are reacting with their emotions rather than with reason. I fear that some Congressmen are using this emotional issue for personal gain.

Reason is what sets men2 apart from animals. Let’s go forth with reason, and hold our heads high: high enough to look down our noses at those who would taunt us by their misuse of the flag. Better that than charging at them like a bull at a cape.

Let us be men2.

Very sincerely yours,

Aimé F. Watts, Jr


1 [At one time Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were wearing costumes that were made to look as though they were made from a flag and they were cheered as patriots; Abby Hoffman, some years later, wore exactly the same outfit during a war protest and he was persecuted and prosecuted for it. That is the type of abuses and unenforceability to which I refer.]

2 [I use the word ‘men’ in its generic, non-gender specific usage. All this holds equally true for women.]

No comments: