Flag Burning Amendment Unwise


This letter appeared in the Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana) on 22 November 1999.

This item may be cited as M. R. Franks, Letter to the Editor: Flag Burning Amendment Unwise, New Orleans Times-Picayune, November 22, 1999, at B4.

Copyright © 1999, M. R. Franks

Dear Editor:

Demagogues in the U.S. Senate soon will turn their attention once again to amending the U.S. Constitution to prohibit flag burning. The Senate needs to get off this non-issue and on with the task of governing the country.

The only thing being desecrated here is the Constitution itself. The purpose of our Constitution is to protect individual liberties and establish the structure of our national government. The proposed amendment does neither.

Freedom of expression, Voltaire once said, becomes meaningless when we deny it to those with whom we disagree. For the most part, only totalitarian dictatorships have laws prohibiting flag desecration. Citizens of England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan and most other civilized countries have full freedom to buy and burn their country's flag if they so desire.

Do we really wish to put our beloved country in the same league with Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Russia and a host of other less-than-free countries? Do we really believe patriotism and respect are not to be earned but forced?

On second thought, after Waco and Ruby Ridge, and with our ever-hardening draconian justice and paramilitary SWAT-team mentality, perhaps it is only fitting after all that our police state aligns itself with other totalitarian regimes.

M. R. Franks
Associate professor of law
Southern University
Baton Rouge

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