Will they ban flag waving, too?

Tuesday, July 7, 1998

We would be remiss if we let Independence Day pass without reminding
Americans that their freedom is in danger.


No, the country is not under attack by outside forces. But its flag is
under siege, and the threat is coming from within the halls of
government.


Sometime this week, the U.S. Senate will likely vote on a historic,
albeit flawed, piece of legislation: the flag-burning
amendment.


We have written several editorials on the issue and you know where we
stand. The proposed flag-burning amendment is a
grave mistake.


But do you really know where you stand?


Perhaps this story, from The Freedom Forum's Internet site, the First Amendment Center, will
show you the light:


“Declaring their free-expression rights, veterans in Durham, N.C.,
flew a 280-square-foot flag over the
weekend in defiance of a city ordinance prohibiting the
exhibition of flags larger than 60 feet. …


“To protest the ordinance, the veterans hoisted the
enormous flag at their post headquarters late Friday afternoon (June
26).


They waved the flag again on [June 27] and [June 28] in hopes of getting
a citation from the city, a ticket they aim to fight.”


Two things stick out right away. First, waving the flag is a form of
free expression. We all believe that, right? Second, flying the
flag can be a form of protest. We all agree on that, right?


OK, so why is burning the flag any different from waving it? Both are
forms of free expression. You can't allow one and not
allow the other.


And why, if you can fly the flag to protest government policies, can't
you burn it to do likewise? If the government forbids
burning the flag in protest, it also should punish those who fly in
defiance of local ordinances.


Are you beginning to see the dangerous precedents the proposed amendment
sets forth?


Write, call or e-mail Sens. Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller immediately
and tell them to cast their votes for freedom and against oppression.