Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Nothing Better To Do?

The United States Congress, particularly the lower House of Representatives, is a very busy place. Here's a partial list of the important things the House needs to address:

Medicare reform
Medicaid reform
Social Security reform
The Downing Street Documents
Veteran's issues
War in Iraq
War on Terror

But what greeted my delicate sensibilities when I put on CSPAN this afternoon? A debate on a Constitutional amendment banning the "desecration" of the flag.

What fresh hell is this?

Now, all apart from the obvious stupidity of the very idea (and leaving aside the fact that the conservative majority in the Supreme Court said that burning the flag was protected speech under the First Amendment), the concept of "desecrating" a flag struck me as rather, well, odd.

Let's crack open the dictionary, shall we?

Desecrate (de-si-krAt): 1. to violate the sanctity of. 2. to treat disrespectfully, irreverently, or outrageously.

Note two of the words in that definition, "sanctity" and "reverent." I suppose that one can desecrate a cross (in fact, there's a web site that offers exactly that - but I wouldn't know nothing about that). But a flag?

A flag is a symbol. In our country, which acknowledges no sovereignty except that of the people (which is why the US Constitution starts with "We the People" instead of anything about a King or God), the flag is a symbolic proxy for our power in national affairs. Its presence in a courtroom signifies that the court acts with the authority of the people.

We salute the flag. We do not worship it. The nation is a state, a community of all the people. The nation is not a God, despite what certain people might tell you.

So why, with all this important stuff to discuss and vote on, is the House whipping itself up about flag burning?

I guess it's because they have Nothing Better To Do.


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