Today, I must write something that, deep inside I am conflicted about, but, also deep down, I realize that I must defend because I believe in this country and in the tenets of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
For several years, there has been a discussion about making flag burning, specifically the flag of the United States, illegal. Today, the house passed a bill by a wide majority that makes this activity illegal and is sending it to the Senate.
As much as I find the practice of burning our flag to be hateful and reprehensible, I must strongly disagree with this bill as it violates the tenets of the First Amendment guaranteeing the right to free speech.
Before anyone reading this flies off the handle, let me explain. This belief by me is not because of some protester screaming that they have the right, the ACLU or simply trying to interpret the First Amendment too broadly.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
No where does it say that the right to burn a flag is protected in specific language. ON the other hand, there is no language set out in the original consitution that prohibits it. But, the things that I find most compelling against making any such law is "congress shall make no law respecting...or abridging the freedom of speech...and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".
Why did our founding fathers write this First Amendment? Was it simply because they were very smart and thought this was a way to insure the people held the government in check and accountable? This was a reason, but it had historical precedent, even in the short time before they wrote this.
During the American Revolution and just prior to, the citizens of the American colonies tried to make their voices heard to the appointed governors and King George. They wrote letters and news articles and, eventually, they assembled to protest the English government's activities including such things as the famous Boston Tea Party, the equally famous Boston Massacre. Thomas Paine and many others wrote pamphlets denouncing the activities of the crown and it's representatives.
On several occassions, as the rhetoric heated up, effigies of the king were burned, flags were burned, other activities were undertaken to show their displeasure with the British Government.
In return, the British would arbitrarily imprison people for "acts of sedition against the crown" which included the above acts. If pamphlateers were arrested, they were lucky not to be hanged.
Our forefathers knew this. They had been persecuted for seeking redress with their government of the time and, the only way they could get it's attention without open rebellion (which was soon to come since the government ignored them), was to take extreme actions including burning the British flag and the king in effigy.
Therefore, as painful and as disgusting as I find the act, I cannot with any good conscience, support any act or bill that diminishes this right, the first amendment.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
I would prefer, of course, that people simply love this country like I do and respect the flag that represents the freedoms that are given by living in this great country.
That would be too much to ask.
However, as one military motto states, "This we will defend" and I defend with all vigor the Constitution of the US, the Amendments thereof and all guarantees provided and implied.
Therefore, I cannot defend nor support any law that would "disparage" those rights that are given and retained by the people, in particular, the right to free speech, up to and including the burning of the flag.
Islamic Thinker's Society LGF
You've probably heard about them on the TV. According to the article:
On the evening of July 11, 2004, Kristine Withers walked down 37th Avenue, a main drag in Jackson Heights, Queens, and passed what had become a familiar sight: a group of tables set up on the sidewalk by the Islamic Thinkers Society, a local group of militant Islamists. On the tables, copies of the Koran and books espousing the group’s strict religious beliefs shared space with tracts on Zionism, pamphlets on the dangers of homosexuality, and signs bearing messages like “Your Terrorists Are Our Heroes.”
According to the rest of the article, these men allegedly advocate "peaceful change", believe that America should be destroyed, peacefully, and become an Islamic country.
Now, at first glance, one might wondered why these men have not been arrested already. Well, quite frankly, they haven't done anything illegal. Wrong, reprehensible, disgusting, stupid, yes. Illegal? No.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of idiots running around this country advocating destruction, secession, talking about Zionists, the dangers of homosexuality, etc and they aren't all Muslims. Even the hatefull KKK has the right to free speech. So do these guys.
However, just like the KKK, I imagine that these groups are being monitored, as they should, for activities that give direct material aid in the form of money, logistics or personnel to the enemy.
Let me also remind us of historical facts. During the Revolutionary War, there were people who were outright Royalists and gave physical aid to the enemy, but there were just as many people who were simply vocal supporters and believed that we should stay within the British Empire. During the Civil War, there were people living in the North that believed the Southern States had a right to secede and did not support the war. They spoke, but did not give physical aid. During WWII, the reprehensible and disgusting American Nazi Party that went so far as to wear brown suits, swastikas and give the "sieg Heil" salute.
This was all, bizarrely, but honestly, protected free speech. However, what these groups could rely on was that they would be monitored, infiltrated and destroyed if they did actually give physical comfort to the enemy, commit an actual crime or participate direcly in the harming of citizens or property.
That's my expectations.
Frankly, I'm not scared of these punks. They are almost laughable if they imagine they can change this country. However, if they convince others to take action against this country from within or do so personally, then I believe that, as they are American citizens, they should be charged with treason and treated accordingly.
How do we combat reprehensible free speech?
Well, we've been doing it on the blogs and in person for a long time now. Basically, we combat it with more free speech, better free speech and ideas. We confront it for the stupidity that it is. Peacefully, but with vigor.
Now, where is the Protest Warriors when you need them?