News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2005


Where does desecration of red, white and blue stop?

For Father's Day this year, a dad received a sports shirt made of red and white stripes and a field of stars on a blue background.

That pretty much describes Old Glory, the flag which most Americans honor, the one that soldiers are dying under today because it is a visible symbol of the ideas embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

The shirt is not a flag, of course. It's a shirt of unmistakable patriotic colors bought for a July 4 celebration.

The U.S. House of Representatives this week again passed the constitutional amendment against flag desecration. Now it's the Senate's turn to wrestle with changing the First Amendment for the first time in the nation's history.

The vote will be closer than previous attempts because less tolerant people run Washington, D.C., today.

Ironically, if this amendment passes, the United States will be in the company of China, Cuba, Iran and Iraq, which have statutes to "protect" the honor of the state.

Remember, too, that Iraq and Iran are two members of President Bush's "Axis of Evil," and that Congress won't normalize relations with Cuba because a dictator rules the island.

And, we are supposed to be working on getting China to stop its gross human rights violations.

That's not good company to emulate.

Let's say Congress passes the amendment and all the states ratify it and people can no longer legally burn flags because that form of political protest won't be protected by the First Amendment.

Well, the Father's Day shirt might be a way around the law.

Everybody would understand the shirt was a stand-in for the flag and the protester would have still made his political disagreement known.

It's not the cloth or its shape the amendment seeks to protect, it's the honor of America. So, wouldn't burning the shirt have the same protest effect?

Censorship is insidious. Burning red, white and blue shirts, burning bikinis of red, white and blue with stars in strategic locations and burning beach towels that look like the American flag might be the next official targets of this intolerance.

America is great because citizens can burn the flag no matter how mad that makes most of us. The day this nation is too weak to tolerate dissent that disgusts the majority of us is the day we will no longer be the land of the free. And hasn't our freedom, and the liberating freedom for others, been our battle cry from Bunker Hill to Iraq?

We urge U.S. Sens. Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby to vote against this awful piece of legislation.

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