The Southeast Missourian 18.06.1996


Free-speech issue is more than flag burning

To the editor:

Daniel A. Ludwig, national commander of the American Legion, writing in the June 14 Southeast Missourian, expressed the view that the Constitution needs to be improved by amending it to allow Congress to proscribe the desecration of the U.S. flag, which act is protected as things now stand by interpretations of the First Amendment. I couldn't disagree more.

I feel that my country has its flaws and that some of its policies need to be resisted vigorously and changed. Some people who have felt the same way have expressed this by combining the flag with oxygen, but these are - I cannot stress this too strongly - extremely rare exceptions. I, as a person seeking to convert my countrymen to my way of thinking, cannot conceive of a less effective way of achieving this than by intentionally insulting them by such a pointless act.

The last actor and singer, Dean Reed, was an American who resided in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) because of political differences with the U.S. government. One time (maybe more) he, responding to some outrageous act of the government, performed an act with our flag which touched me. He did not burn it nor soil it nor mistreat it. No, he reverently washed it in public to symbolically remove stains which he perceived that our government had put on it by the particular act he was protesting. To me, this washing got the message across, and far more eloquently than a burning would have.

That the Constitution, as it is currently interpreted, protects such a rare and self-defeating form of dissent as flag burning is something of which all Americans should be proud. There are those who say that people have died defending the flag. I cannot think of a more ludicrous reason for dying. People will die defending their families, their ways of life, their neighbors, their ideas, their land and many other things which they hold dear. But to bundle all of these things up into an omnium-gatherum symbolized by a flag just to be able to have a chip on one's shoulder that a dissident can be dared to knock off is childish, to say the least.

Donn S. Miller

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Letzte Änderung: 2012-03-06