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Burning an American flag has often been a source for debate and it has been proposed to make the practice illegal through an amendment. In order for this Flag Amendment to be considered, according to the U. S. Constitution, it must be proposed by two-thirds vote of each house of Congress or by the national convention called by Congress at the request of two-thirds of the state.
To become part of the Constitution, the amendment must be ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states or by the conventions in three-fourths of the states. The framers of the Constitution purposely made it hard to put through an amendment for certain rational reasons. After reading several current issues on whether the Flag Amendment should be passed or not, I am standing strong on my belief that I feel the Flag Amendment is unnecessary. I am not one to say that I think it is morally right to burn the flag, but I think that it should be allowed for several reasons. Such reasons are for the disposal of an old worn-out flag, and for protesting the government. As stated by the U.
S. Constitution in the first amendment, Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. If the United States Congress approves an amendment to the U. S.
Constitution that will allow Congress to prohibit the physical desecration of the U. S. flag, they will be defying the foundation of our U. S. Constitution and what our Founding Fathers envisioned: tolerance of those who would challenge the government.
The ultimate expression of democracy is the right to challenge its very existence and that right should extend to burning its ultimate symbol, the American flag. When protesters are rallying against the U. S. government, they often burn the flag to exercise their freedom of speech and to bring attention to their demonstration, or else if it did not then I feel these Americans would not have chosen to burn the flag in the first place.
Their right to free speech, if it does not impose risk of bodily harm, is guaranteed. Yelling "Fire" in a movie theater is illegal because it threatens the safety of others but burning a flag does not. If there were to be a person held for burning or definition of the flag, it would be difficult for the court to decided whether or not the act was a demonstration of that persons right of speech. There will be many debates on what flag and desecration exactly means in a court case when determining if the act of burning the flag was legal or not.
An immense amount of time and judicial resources will be squandered on defining the exact lengths of the governments trademark rights in the flag. According to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, the term desecration is referred to treating disrespectfully, or to violate the sanctity of and the Flag Amendment would naturally make the flag a sacred object of America, which would contradict the religion of some American citizens. According to some religions, the believers must give their allegiance only to their God, and they are to treat their God as the sacred and divine object. To say that the flag is the sacred object of America would only trigger more protest, and the possibility of flag burning. The word flag according to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary means a piece of cloth or fabric of distinctive design that is used as a symbol, or decoration.
I believe that if the Flag Amendment were to be passed then the government would make the flag the sole trademark of the State, making it available for use only by the government. However, some commercial advertisements like Tommy Hilfiger, and Ralph Lauren, uses the flag as their brand name and their trademarks. If the Flag Amendment passes, would these companies have to change their trademarks to oblige to the new Flag Amendment? I feel that if such commercial advertisers are using the flag as their brand name, then in a sense they are respecting the flag, not desecrating it. Flag Amendment supporters feel that the passing of the amendment will help to protect the flag that our veterans had fought for. However, according to the National Issues Forum Why A Flag Amendment?
written by Jamin Raskin, Raskin points out that there is no epidemic of flag-burning in the country, nor has the country experienced any loss of patriotism or respect for Old Glory which would make this Amendment unnecessary because flag desecration is not an issue of great concern, like more serious crimes are. Furthermore, Congress does not need the Amendment to safeguard the flag that flies above public property or the Capitol building. To burn the flag above the Capitol building would be a criminal act, because it is destruction of public property. What the Flag Amendment would do is protect flags from the owners, which means it would exercise control over millions of pieces of private property. In other words, the owners of flags that are worn-out and torn would not have legal rights as owners to burn their flag for disposal, if the Flag Amendment was passed. To dispose of an old flag, one has to burn it, because any other form of disposal, like putting it in the trash, would be a sign of discourtesy.
So in respect, the Flag Amendment would contradict itself, in that trying to protect the flag it would only pose a threat to its safety. People who do not support the Flag Amendment and those afraid of disposing their flags properly would fear being prosecuted through the amendment and thus trigger an impulsive wave of flag burning to demonstrate their protest against the Flag Amendment. If the government goes so far as to give governmental license of the flag to the State only by passing this amendment, then I feel that they will be controlling the flag, when it is suppose to be a symbol of freedom. The Flag Amendment portrays the desire to force control on the American people, by neglecting their freedom of speech and expression and thus threatens to turn the flag into a symbol of repression.
Those who favor the proposed amendment say they do so in honor of the flag, but in proposing to unravel the First Amendment, they desecrate what the flag represents, and what millions of Americans have died to defend. Bibliography:
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