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In a recent editorial, KSL expressed our love for the American flag, but suggested it is better to protect the freedoms symbolized by Old Glory rather pass a constitutional amendment aimed at protecting the flag from desecration.
A number of people wrote to voice another viewpoint.
From Terry Schow of Ogden:
“I must respectfully disagree with your position. Sadly many in the news media keep calling the act of burning the flag speech. Speech is speech and burning a flag or anything for that matter is an act. You may not burn a cross on someone’s lawn or if your logic follows that would be speech. You cannot have it both ways. There are many laws that prohibit the destruction or burning of property. Why should the flag be different? The flag is certainly a powerful symbol to most Americans especially Veterans and should not be used by those who want to express their displeasure with the government by burning it. They are most welcome to speak in person, call or write like most of us do, but burn the Flag certainly not. For more than one hundred years the flag was protected then, by a 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court decided it no longer was. The overwhelming will of the people is to protect that flag. It is not the place of the courts to be deciding social issues, that is why we have elected representatives. Let the people decide. The vast majority of the Veterans I come in contact with support the amendment and applaud Senator Hatch for taking the lead on this issue.”
From Steve Robertson of Falmouth, Virginia:
“Senator Hatch’s proposed flag amendment is in response to the outcry of many concerned Americans over the 5-4 US Supreme Court decision in 1989 in Texas v. Johnson. Another First Amendment freedom is the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The very fact that all 50 state legislatures have officially petitioned Congress to send a proposed constitutional amendment to them for ratification, reflects a public outcry for action.
Senator Bennett’s approach calls for “cause and effect” legislation that would promote violence and violates Article VII which prohibits “excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” His bill is enforceable if it causes a riot or violence and then would call for punishment that exceeds any of the current 48 state laws or the Federal statute concerning physical desecration.
Simply put, Senator Bennett’s bill says “yelling fire in a crowded theater is okay if it doesn’t bother anyone” and then would make a civil disobedience into a major crime. The First Amendment never granted absolute freedom. Slander, libel, plagiarism, treason, and other such acts are very much illegal. When ratified, this amendment does not restrict free speech, but rather allows Congress to enact laws to prohibit “disgusting, even profane” conduct. These laws would be subject to Presidential veto and judicial review. Sounds like democracy to me!”
From Roger I. Price of Huntsville:
“I watched your editorial today, July 6, 6:55P, with interest. It is my personal opinion that the major problem causing much of the strife and dissension in our nation is too much legislation. This is the land of Liberty. Despotism and tyranny in any form is unconstitutional. Thomas Jefferson said that “no man has a natural right to commit aggression upon the equal rights of another, and that is all from which the law should restrain him.” Why do different peoples, at home and abroad, see our ensign as representing something despicable? That is what we should study and seek to remedy. Some will be the enemy of Liberty no matter what we do and we cannot buy true friends.”
We thank these viewers and listeners for taking the time to share their views.