Flag-burning amendment needs to be extinguished

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 26, 2005

Once again, a small gang of politicians - mostly Republicans - are ready to let the country take an eraser to the U.S. Constitution just because doing so would make many Americans feel good.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow a Constitutional amendment to outlaw burning the U.S. flag.

Long the subject of fiercely hot debate, burning the flag within the United States' borders is for the most part a rare event. And that's a good thing. Like many, many Americans watching someone set the symbol of our country ablaze infuriates us.

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The act is among the most severe, emotional forms of protest an American can wage against the government.

Unfortunately, we cannot stomach the idea of outlawing something that diminishes the freedoms Americans hold so dear.

Last week, we were further sickened to realize the depths at which supports of the ban would go to try to pull on America's heartstrings.

"Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center," said Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif. "Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."

Attempting to capitalize on the emotions we all felt after the 9-11 attacks for political gain is just plain sick, not to mention in poor taste.

When we allow our government to shift from a government based on principles to one based solely on symbols, our country has taken a turn for the worse.

The liberty we hold so dear includes the freedom to burn the national symbol if we're so moved, no matter how much the majority of us may be disgusted by the very act.

Informal polls show the bill probably will not pass in the Senate and we hope those polls are accurate.

In a time in which our nation is purportedly helping to foster the spread of democracy through the Middle East, perhaps we need to take a step back and realize that we shouldn't let it slip through our fingers here at home.