Monday, July 05, 2004

The United States should not amend its constitution to prohibit flag desecration

Why you’re right:

1. It would undermine the bedrock principles of free speech. The point of the First Amendment is to protect speech that is unpopular. If we chip away at free speech protections so they only apply to uncontroversial expression the First Amendment will be meaningless. (PFAW)

2. Constitutional amendment should expand rights, not restrict them. Since 1791 – apart from the failed experiment with prohibition – constitutional amendments have expanded rights. We should not set the dangerous precedent of using constitutional amendments to erode core constitutional rights. (PFAW)

3. It would be nearly impossible to enforce. An amendment prohibiting desecration would led to a series of nearly intractable legal question that would only be resolved through lengthy and costly litigation. Would a computer generated image of a burning flag violate the law? A videotape? A flag with 49 stars? (PFAW)

Why they’re wrong:

1. A flag desecration amendment would not honor veterans. People who fought for the United States were not fighting for “a way of life.” Passing an amendment prohibiting flag desecration would make America “less free and more like the former Soviet Union, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, or Afghanistan under the Taliban.” (Lawrence Korb)

2. A flag desecration amendment would increase the number of time flags are burned. Since 1990, there have been around five public flag burnings a year. Passing a flag burning amendment would undoubtedly lead to more flag burnings as people seek to protest the law. People who actually want to see as few flags as possible burned should oppose the amendment. (PFAW)

A better idea:

To show respect for veterans, Congress should oppose the Bush administration’s proposed cuts for veterans benefits – including a five-fold increase in out-of-pocket costs for veterans seeking medical treatment. (Lawrence Korb)