Monday, July 04, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

We had a quiet day. A. took the kids to the pool for a bit, while I rested. We saw fireworks in Natick last night, and we had a nice time. Thanks to Bismo for the primo viewing spot.

One of the things we celebrate today is the freedom to which we are all entitled as citizens of the United States. These freedoms are enumerated in tbe Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, one of these freedoms is under attack from a group of people who should know better. In fact, this group was elected to office in order to defend those freedoms, not undermine them. Of course, the group I'm talking about is the U.S. House of Representitives.

A few days back, the House voted to pass an amendment to the Constitution which would make it possible to pass laws to prevent desecration of the United States flag. 286 Congressmen thought it was more important to protect a piece of cloth than to defend one of the key principles, freedom of speech, that flag is intended to represent.

The Founding Fathers put freedom of speech into the First Amendment for a very good reason. They wisely realized that the republican (that's small "r") form of government they proposed would not work if the government had the power to outlaw dissent against it. The concept is so basic as to be obvious.

229 years later, the House has seen fit to undermine the basic right of free speech. In voting for this amendment, 286 members of the house have shown that their lack of understanding of how our government works is so profound, that they would undermine one of our most sacred rights.

It's far more offensive to me to outlaw the burning of the flag than it is to burn the flag itself. The flag, at the end of the day, is simply a piece of cloth. It is the ideals behind the flag that give it it's power as a symbol that nearly all Americans revere. Undermining those ideals, even for a seemingly "good" reason, does far more to damage the flag than any number of radicals burning it.

The amendment goes to the Senate next, where 2/3 of the Senate has to approve it before it is sent to the states. So if you want to do your part for freedom on this Independence Day, write to your Senator and tell him or her to vote against the amendment. While you're at it, you might want to write to your Congressman if he voted for the amendment and tell him or her that you'll be voting for a more thoughtful candidate next time.


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