Athens Review, Athens, Texas

July 7, 2006

Don’t build bridges where there are no rivers

Congress seeks to solve a problem where there is no problem. When was the last time you witnessed the burning of a flag in person or on TV? If you have, what harm was done. Was a bystander burned? There is already a law against that. Was any other private or public property damaged? There is already a law against that. Was anyone offended? If Congress passed laws for every possibility of someone being offended, the Law Libraries would not hold the volume of documents.

Of all the valid arguments opposing the flag desecration amendment, of which “freedom of speech” is most readily expressed and rightly so, one fundamental argument has remained hidden in plain sight. There is an inherent right protected by the Constitution that has been ignored, i.e. the right to acquire and hold property. With that right, comes the freedom to do what the owner chooses to do with that property so long as said owner does not infringe on the rights of others.

Does one not have the right and freedom to purchase a flag of the United States and do with it as he chooses, even to desecrate it so long as one does not infringe on the rights of others. There are sufficient laws on the books to protect against infringing on another’s rights. “No harm, no foul” — no new law — no Constitutional amendment. No River — No Bridge.

Senator Bill Frist, R-Tenn., says, “countless men and women have died defending that flag. It is but a small humble act for us to defend it.” Men and women have not died to defend the flag. They died to defend what it symbolizes, ie., the innate God-given right of freedom — even the right to burn a flag. Rivers of blood to defend what the flag stands for, not one drop to defend the flag. (Let’s be clear. The right to burn the flag doesn’t make it right to do so — despicable act, worse — politically motivated amendment).

Senator Oren Hatch, R-Utah, No. 1 promoter of the amendment, states that Congress has not figured out what constitutes desecration of the flag, but we will debate that issue after the amendment is passed. I am wondering, will the amendment prohibit Hip-Hop singers from “desecrating” the “Star Spangled Banner” at national sporting events? Will the amendment restrain Texas’ harsh weather from fading and tattering the red, white and blue? Seems to me Congress should know what they are voting for or against before they vote.

Only three Republican senators opposed the amendment along with 31 Democrats and the ACLU. The Democrats and even the ACLU got it right this time.

It’s the Fourth of July. I’m flying my flag. How about proponents of the amendment?

A note to Congress: Please cease Building Bridges Where There Are No Rivers.

M.D. Ward