Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Flag Burning Amendment

Below is an article I submitted to local papers for publication about a year ago ...

In port, the Command Duty Officer presided over retiring the colors at
sunset - standing on the flight deck, at attention, and saluting as sailors slowly lowered the U.S. flag. This was my favorite duty, so it might surprise many I would oppose a Constitutional amendment to ban flag burning.

Like many Americans, I, too, am angry and disgusted when I see our flag burned - whether in a foreign land or here at home. To see an American burn the flag seems almost traitorous. In my opinion, most who do this are ignorant of their own history and callously indifferent toward the patriotic feelings of the multitude. It offends me deeply, but I am not hurt physically or emotionally beyond what I experience daily behind slow drivers on the interstate.

Most see this as a freedom of speech issue. Most would agree we should be very careful in allowing the government to curtail our freedoms - bought in blood shed under this banner. So, what is the compelling and sufficient reason to ban flag burning? No one is hurt (except, hopefully, the one holding the burning flag); we’re just offended. Constitutionalize this ban, and the words, "I’m offended," take on Constitutional force! Stop for a moment and think what a liberal court could do with that precedent!

Let’s compromise. Require a license to burn the flag. Two requirements - first, pass an American history test, and then there must be a tear in your eye when you burn my flag.

Harold Henderson, CDR, SC, USN (ret)

... about the only thing I would change is the last paragraph to add a provision making assault against a flag-burner a petty offense with a stiff $50 fine.

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