The recent nastiness involving a group of fools desecrating an American flag in an otherwise meaningless “protest” on the campus of Valdosta State University last week brought back to life a very interesting conversation about “free speech” in this country, and exactly who is allowed to enjoy it, and in what form.
As we saw, a VSU student, who happens to be an Air Force veteran, took offense at the way the protesters were stomping and destroying the flag (as they supposedly protested “slavery”), and took valiant steps to “rescue” it. Her well-intended efforts were courageous and, unfortunately, quite illegal. The flag was not hers to “save” and was, in fact, the purchased property of one of the idiots who were conducting the protest.
The veteran ended up being taken into custody for her efforts, and for her well-documented resistance to several law enforcement officers’ legal orders for her to relinquish the desecrated flag to the loudmouthed zeroes who were protesting.
I know it is tough to accept, but the freedoms of expression so perfectly described in the first amendment of our Constitution are sacrosanct, and must apply to all speech (and many expressive activities), without regard to the outrage, insult or shock value contained within.
Except of course, when it is not.
In what has to be the mother of all contradictions, the same U.S. Supreme Court that has ruled American flag burning is indeed “protected free speech” also declared a while back that cross burning is, in fact, not.
The justices opined that cross burning is such a nasty, hideous, intimidating thing that it, and only it, crosses the imaginary line between protected expression and actions that impugn the constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for others.
And of course to that, I say, BS.
As we saw with the Obama/healthcare “tax” ruling, the Supreme Court is easily able to get it wrong, and when they declared a burning cross is different than a burning flag, they were about as wrong as wrong can be.
Before any simpletons get the impression that your friendly neighborhood columnist here has some affection for cross burners, let me set you straight. I would like to take all the cross burners and all the flag burners and beat them senseless with the same steel mallet. Line ‘um up assembly line style and get whacking.
Cross burners, flag burners, human shields, NAMBLA members, Muslim terrorists, Christian terrorists, the far left, the far right and all Dallas Cowboys fans.
Smash! Pow! Boom!
We could use the assembly line setup at the old Shapiro’s Meat Packing Plant/Slaughterhouse. It’ll be fun. I’ll bring the beer; the nuts will already be there.
But alas, the Constitution and my own better sense won’t let me do that. And good for them.
I have a particular affinity for the first amendment of that great document, I make my living with it. With its protection I am able to tell you that Linda Schrenko is a crook, Sheriff Roundtree is full of crap, Al Sharpton is a media clown, Megyn Kelly is a babe and Rachel Maddow looks like a teenage boy. And if I want to, I can use it to burn a flag. (But I won’t do that, because I am not a tool.)
I used to be of the opinion that flag burning was something that should be outlawed, but after studying the law, I understood that was impossible. The only way flag burning could be outlawed was if the Constitution was amended. Whether that should be done or not is a whole other debate, but the law is clear: if you got a problem with the flag, or what it represents, light’em up Bubba.
God forbid (apparently, literally) you do the same with a cross.
While burning a flag only offends the patriotic men and women who fought under the darn thing, burning a cross offends minorities. Can’t do that.
As I have gotten older, I have actually come to appreciate certain aspects of flag and cross burnings. Such demonstrations immediately identify socially and intellectually retarded, bombastic demagogues without the possibility of error. You see a cross burning, you know immediately who you have at the end of the match. It sends up a flag. No pun intended.
The double standard established by the Supreme Court in this recent ruling is in very good company with a host of other legal double standards, some of which have been specifically approved by the high court.
For instance, we can require picture IDs for gun purchases (which is a guaranteed constitutional right), but we cannot require picture IDs to vote.
A minor female cannot get a tattoo, body piercings, have dental work performed or sign a contract without parental approval. However she can have her uterus vacuumed at a federally funded abortion clinic without Mom or Dad any the wiser.
An 18-year-old can vote, buy property and go to Iraq to be taken hostage as a member of the American military, but he cannot buy a beer. The law says he isn’t “mature enough” to handle it. “Geez Elmo, we would like to toast your return from war, and the fact that you were able to keep three of your four limbs. You want grape Fanta or sweet tea for the honor?”
The American government can underwrite tobacco farmers for generations, then sit back and sue for damages when the use of tobacco makes people sick.
If the contradictions weren’t so infuriating, they would make for wonderful comedy.
I expect the political, social, religious and cultural subdivisions of our country to be full of contradiction and infuriating double standards. Hell, I have married three women in my life, so I am used to it.
But I expect much better of a Supreme Court put in place to be the “regulator” of all law. Law that is supposed to be applied equally and without prejudice. I expect the flag and the cross to be equally protected and, for that matter, equally at risk. One is no better than the other, as far as symbols go.
Politicians can be pressured by a concerned public, and that is the way it should be. When emotions and political correctness seep into the decision-making process of this nation’s highest legal authority, we are all in deep poop.