A Moving Testament to the Never-Say-Die, Never-Think-Things-Through Spirit of Republicans
An absolutely wizard article on Tompaine.com
today about some of the unintended consequences of Delay and Lott's proposed constitutional amendment to ban 'flag desecration' by constitutional scholar Jamin B. Raskin. Since the proposed legislation uses the ambiguous term 'desecration' rather than simply 'burning' (which is, in fact, an acceptable form of flag disposal under the US Flag Code
), Raskin astutely asks:"Will it be a crime when people wipe barbeque sauce from their mouths with flag-napkins on the Fourth of July? When swimmers dive into polluted rivers wearing Speedo flag-based bathing suits? When Jasper Johns-inspired artists paint mutilated flags? When politicians put flags on balloons that pop and deflate? When grandmothers make flag quilts with peace signs on them, when people let hot wax drip on flag cakes? When Woody Harrelson wears a flag diaper portraying Larry Flynt in the movies, or when Ralph Lauren places flag designs on sweaters and antiperspirant sticks?"
Essentially, flag police will be required to make a cavalcade of moral judgments about the legality of flag use in what raisin describes as "messy everyday life".
But the best part of this article-the sweet, sweet glorious music, if you will- is how the proposed amendment will theoretically make displaying the Confederate Flag a crime. Says Raskin:"Everyone knows, of course, that the Confederate flag was the banner of secession and treason, as the Union saw it. But most people don't know that the Confederate flag design itself was a taunting rip-off and physical desecration of the Stars-and-Stripes. It takes the physical elements of the Union flag and rearranges them in a provocative parody: five-pointed white stars, against a blue background, against a red field evoking blood or fire....If we are going to amend the First Amendment to criminalize thought crime, we should be certain to pick up enemies of the RepublicÂin addition to Republican enemies. The new laws can and should be used to ban all display of the seditious Confederate parody of our flag. After all, no other symbolic defacement of the U.S. flag has been more strongly associated with violent rebellion against the United States. No one died when the adolescent Maoist Gregory Johnson famously burned a flag in 1984 at the Republican Convention. But hundreds of thousands of Americans died fighting to stop the military imposition of the Confederate flag over us."
Besides the inestimable damage to Civil War Re-enactors and Dukes of Hazard enthusiasts, this sticky legal consequence may prove unpopular in Trent Lott and Tome Delay's home states of Mississippi and Texas, whose denizens make frequent and proud show of their Confederate heritage. Mississippians will have special cause to complain, since their state flag incorporates the ol' Confederate Navy Jack and would thus be a constitutional violation.
Say nothing of the fact that by making political flag burning illegal, the gesture is made more powerful. Who cares if you burn a flag now? If anything, it seems a little derivative or repetitive. But make it illegal, and as Raskin says: "Every publicity-starved performance artist on an NEA grant, every self-dramatizing high school junior who has just read Karl Marx or Ayn Rand for the first time, every militiaman with pyromaniac tendencies will be teased out into the streets to test the boundaries of our new flag regime. Indeed, we will see all of the brain-teasing borderline provocations that freedom-loving Americans develop to subvert thought control: the burning of carefully painted 49-star flags and red-white-and turquoise flags; the mass cancellation of flag stamps (government saboteurs?); the tattooing of desecrated flags on inappropriate parts of the body; and the staging of "virtual" flag-burnings on the Internet."
I'm not sure if it's because of the lack of education or thread-narrow worldview of their creators, but it is stunning how many ideologically right-wing policies end up producing results totally contrary to their stated goals. Stunning, and hilarious.