I’d feel a lot better about the narrowly rejected Constitutional amendment to ban flag-burning if its supporters also opposed book burning.
Flag-burning is one of those pain-in-the-neck issues that has no full-fledged advocate. There’s no national organization or reliable interest group that loves burning flags. It’s an extreme tactic used in extreme situations. Anyone who might take that step someday, doesn’t even know today that they’d do it. It’s like illegalizing cutting off your own limb, when none of us have ever been trapped under an avalanche.
Brief reminder: it’s easy to emigrate from the United States. This is not North Korea. If you’re a citizen, you can leave any time you like, if you think our government is screwing up. If, instead, you decide to stay and protest, I’m guessing, despite your issues, you love our country enough to try and change it, which is why you’re lighting up Old Glory in the first place.
When someone burns the flag, it’s a signal that they believe “things have gotten out of hand,” that we’re going down a road that’s either evil or doomed or both, and they’re taking the horrific step of burning the flag to get our attention.
How is this a conservative issue? For years, conservatives have been deriding government—it’s wasteful, it interferes with business, taxes are too high. They’ve been saying they want government “so small you can drown it in a bathtub” —and yet, they want to remove a means of telling government, loudly and clearly, how angry you are, without physically harming another human being. With all the workplace, schoolyard, and government building violence going around, you’d think that burning flags would be the least urgent crime to move to center stage.
Bear in mind, this hallowed icon is so sacred that anyone who wants to stick it on any kind of advertisement can exploit it, and anyone who wants to stick it on toothpicks or t-shirts can drool on it, shrink it or sweat all over it. So let's calm down just a bit, shall we?
This amendment failed in the Senate by ONE VOTE. Had it passed, every state would have to vote on ratification. Forget floods, national security, health insurance, raging wildfires, and anything else you thought was important--instead let's spend a while arguing about something that's 110,000 per cent less likely than lightning hitting your left pinkie. While you're indoors.
It’s simply not enough to say that we’d ban flag burning because the desecration makes us uncomfortable. It should make us uncomfortable, because we love our country, and because that’s the point of the whole exercise.