Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Hitch on Flag Burning

Once again I find myself in agreement with Christopher Hitchens in his opposition to a constitutional amendment banning flag burning. I still think that burning anything without a permit is an activity, not speech and should be regulated accordingly. Those who burn a flag should be mindful of an old fashioned ass kicking, but we should not demean our constitution by passing feckless amendments. Here's a bit of Hitch's reasoning:
When it was proposed that my apartment building in Washington display Old Glory after Sept. 11, 2001, I was not at all opposed but did express a misgiving. What about the day when the flag becomes tattered and drooping, and it's nobody's particular job to take care of it? (You can all think of a comparable example, from a ragged flag on a truck to a half-vanished flag decal on a taxi.) There is nothing more dispiriting than the ebb of such a tide. If I find that I have stuck a flag-stamp on an envelope and accidentally put it on upside-down, I admit with slight embarrassment that I now start over with a new envelope. Nobody would ever notice my tiny disrespect, but I still won't commit it. However, the whole case would be altered if I was told that I had to get it right. The flag would no longer stand for the constitutional spirit that gives it meaning in the first place. It may once have waved over hellish plantations but it was also defended to the end by the Maine regiment at Little Round Top. Without ambiguities and ironies, it would not be what it is. And ambiguity and irony are just what the flag-fetishists do not understand.

No comments: