June 27, 2006

No. Just, No.

I wake this morning to discover, via the New York Times that the august US Senate (the deliberative, thoughtful half of our legislative branch) is within a single vote of amending the US constitution to ban the burning of the American flag.

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the committee, said the amendment was not meant to alter the Bill of Rights but to right an incorrect decision by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Specter said flag burning should not be considered speech protected by the First Amendment, but an action "designed to antagonize, designed to hurt," not "designed to persuade."

"The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protecting speech, religion, press, assembly is inviolate," he said. "That is not to say the decisions of the Supreme Court have that same status."

Uh, no. This republic has stood for 222 years without the Constitution specifically banning the burning of the flag. We've fought multiple wars (including two hot world wars, and a larger cold war), survived several international economic depressions, witchhunts for various mythical internal subversives, and a major civil war without a Constitution that bans burning the flag. Now, however, we need to change that. Spector (head of the judiciary committee) puts forth the transparently absurd argument that burning the flag should be banned because is it designed to "antagonize" and "hurt", not "persuade". Last I checked, the First Amendment to the Constitution was pretty clear that all speech was protected (subject to the limits of libel and harm to others: yelling "fire" in a crowded theater, when there is no fire, for example), not just speech that "persuades". Your "antagonism" may be my "persuasion", and vice versa. The US Constitution protects both, and forces the government to avoid choosing between forms of arguments (thus, protecting free speech).

This is a transparently election-year move to shore up support for "values". I had thought that, perhaps, the US Constitution was beyond the bounds of election year tomfoolery. I was clearly mistaken. Fiddling with the Constitution for the sake of elections is a very dangerous road to walk down. And very difficult to turn around, once begun.

(This ends the reasonable, calm, non-profanity-laced portion of the post. Those with weak stomachs may want to cease reading at this point.)

What the FUCK. Fucking "values". Fuck "values". "Values" allowed us to enslave an entire race of people for a hundred years. "Values" allowed us to treat them as second-class citizens in law for another hundred. "Values" allowed us to lock up US Citizens 'cause they looked like Japs (thanks Roosevelt, and fuck Malkin while we're at it). "Values" allowed us to hunt for "Communists" without due process, the law, or any hint of reasonableness. "Values" allowed the fucking President of the United States to spy on his political opponents for his gain (fucking Nixon), and then be fucking rehabilitated years later, as if the cocksucker hadn't done anything worse than stealing fucking candy. This country was founded on LAWS, people, not fucking "values." LAWS fixed all those problems listed above, not fucking "values." If you pox-ridden flaming sacks of shit can't figure that out, then it's time to re-think term limits (except those are fucking unconstitutional, too, though that fucking can be fucking changed fucking easily it seems).

Keep your plague-ridden hands off the damn Constitution over fucking trivial matters, assholes. Once you've fucking figured out Iraq, the deficit, and healthcare, then we'll let you fucking talk for a while about fucking flag burning.

Posted by baltar at June 27, 2006 09:53 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Culture | Extremism | Free Speech | Law and the Courts | Liberty | Politics | The Ever Shrinking Constitution


So how do you really feel? :-)

This isn't gonna go anywhere. It's a cynical effort to support fund-raising, just as the gay marriage thing last month was. Of course, the gay marriage thing fizzled when even the righty blogs and pundits started calling it cynical, so there might be hope yet.

Posted by: jacflash at June 27, 2006 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I think Tom Carper will see the light (or I hope so) and switch sides. And I can't believe Jay Rockefeller will make it up to the Senate to vote on this when he didn't show up for the Iraq votes. And without them voting "yea", this should be dead. So let's hear a hooray for conservative Republican senators Mitch McConnell and Bob Bennett. Without their opposition, this would apparently pass.

Posted by: Armand at June 27, 2006 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

When is the vote? I'll believe we've dodged this bullet when I see it (after the vote).

Posted by: baltar at June 27, 2006 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

what baltar said. all of it.

the sad thing isn't that this will pass. whether it passes the senate, it won't be ratified.

the sad thing is that this merely helps to vitiate people's perception of the force and import of the first amendment as construed by the body with responsibility for construing it.

swiftboating was "designed to antagonize, designed to hurt," it certainly wasn't designed to persuade. ditto "outing" mccain in south carolina and pretty much every word that comes out of priapic rush limbaugh's mouth.

the first amendment was intended to forestall arbitrary judgments about the relative merit of certain speech, and plainly was designed to encompass symbolic acts. political theatre or otherwise, this is obscene -- i know it when i see it.

Posted by: moon at June 27, 2006 01:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think the vote is tomorrow (Wed. the 28th) - but I'm not sure and it could always be changed.

Posted by: Armand at June 27, 2006 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

66-34 - it didn't happen.

Though no thanks to the following presidential candidate Bayh, Rockefeller (why didn't you stay in your sick bed?), Dayton (have you become completely unhinged? you're a well known liberal who opposes both Democratic Iraq proposals but votes for this?), Feinstein, the Nelsons, Lincoln, Landrieu, Baucus, Stabenow, Salazar, Menendez (haven't even been elected yet and already you are backing this, Tim Johnson, Harry Reid and all but three Republicans.

Again, a pat on the back for Bob Bennett, Mitch McConnell and Lincoln Chafee, the Republicans who opposed this insult to the First Amendment that so many have died to protect. And a grudging thank you to Sen. Byrd who also opposed it.

Posted by: Armand at June 27, 2006 11:07 PM | PERMALINK
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