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The purpose of this page is not to encourage flag burning. Nor is it to promote wanton desecration of a symbol which many hold dear. It is, rather, a standing protest to any amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would allow Congress or the States to pass laws against flag burning - laws that the Supreme Court has already said are unconstitutional.
This page was established in March of 1995, as a protest to the attempted "Flag Protection Amendment." After the amendment was narrowly defeated in December of '95, I thought the issue was over. Unfortunately, the amendment has been re-introduced. Once again, this page will serve it's main purpose: to defeat any attempt to change the Constitution of the United States over flag desecration.
I hope that this page will serve the following goals:
It's worth noting that I plan to maintain this page indefinitely, although those plans will change if the amendment does pass. This page will certainly violate state and federal laws if the flag desecration amendment goes into effect. In that case, this webpage would become the first ever to be shut down by the US Government purely for its political content. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
- To provide a rational and intelligent debate on the issue of flag desecration
- To illustrate the absurdity and unconstitutional nature of any flag desecration law
- And to assist students and researchers who are gathering information on this controversial topic
Note: I wrote the following words on March 5, 1995. I had no idea at that time that this amendment would actually PASS in the House. Although some of the numbers I use below are dated now, I still feel the same way, so I'm keeping the words the same.
My name is Warren S. Apel, and I am a fairly politically-active guy here in sunny Arizona. Some of my legislators are making decisions that I don't particularly like, so I offer this page as a rebuttal.
Republicans Matt Salmon, Bob Stump, and J.D. Hayworth recently signed on to legislation, along with about 247 other Congressmen, that would lead to a constitutional amendment banning flag desecration.
For more information on this issue, please see A Brief History of Flag Burning, which gives the full text of the proposed amendments and related action on the House and Senate floor.Haven't we, as a nation, been here before? The less-conservative Congress in 1990 voted similar legislation down. Didn't we move on to more important things? Perhaps the "contract" (which I never signed) gives Republicans more control in the area of taking away personal liberties.
Congressman Hayworth gave a good reason, at least, for his signature:
"I view flag burning as tantamount to obscenity."
Well, shit, J.D. I think using the symbol of our nation in an effort to get re-elected is obscene. I think blindly following the orders of your Grand Old Party is pretty darn obscene, too.
We certainly have some laws to stop flag-burners already. You can't burn someone else's flag without their permission, or it's vandalism and arson. You can't burn your flag on someone else's property, or it's trespassing and arson. But if I want to burn my flag on my own property, I damn well better be able to.
Actually, I have no desire to do so. But I demand the right.
Now, here's a short list of some other things that might also be made criminal by the new amendment to ban flag desecration:
- That cracked, sun-faded flag bumper-sticker on your car window.
- The traditional red-white-and-blue flag-shaped cake you might have on the 4th of July. Make sure you don't cut the first piece!
- That sweat-stained bleached-out T-shirt I've seen too many scary people wearing that proudly displays Old Glory with the cute slogan "Try to Burn This One!"
- The nightly ritual at the Arby's down the street from me: A 16-year-old working for minimum wage goes out at dusk each night, pulls the flag from the pole, wads it carelessly under her arm, and drags it back inside, the stripes trailing in the grass. (I've seen it many times.)
- Eating a sandwich with a flag toothpick stuck in it. Try to figure out what to do with that when you're done eating.
- Chad says: how about those flag postage stamps? Would postmarking one be considered desecration? And you know what? Rep. Pat Schroeder (D-CO) says it might.
Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), of the Senate Judiciary Committee, agrees, although she still voted to send the amendment to the Senate. She attempted to change the wording, got voted down, and went ahead and voted FOR the amendment in the 104th Congress.
- Jane Green says:What about those little flags on sticks that children wave at parades, don't they usually end up laying in a gutter somewhere? Are we going to persecute our children for that monstrous crime?!!!
- Alise Libman says:how bout all the flags they put in people's caskets? You're supposed to keep a light on the flag 24 hours a day...I don't think that they have a mini-mag light or anything in with it. in fairness to the truth, I believe the flag that covers the casket is folded ceremoniously and given to the widow (or other survivor.)
- While on a recent vacation to Washington DC, I visited the Capitol building. In the gift shop, they sell a "patriotic" flag afghan blanket. You can keep your feet warm with the symbol of our country. And you can buy it in the very building where they debate this issue.
- In the July 4th mailer I got from Cost Plus World Market, there was an ad for a "patriotic" citronella candle. Yes, you read right. An oversized yard candle shaped like the flag curled on a post. It was billed as a 'patriotic way to keep insects at bay.' Really.
- At the same time the American Legion was picketing the Phoenix Art Museum for allowing the display of Dred Scott's What is the Proper Way to Display the American Flag? (in which the viewer stands on an American Flag which rests on the floor) - I found an ad for a "patriotic doormat" which allows the USA-Lovin' homeowner to clean their shoes on the flag. Seriously. Ironic, isn't it?
- And Flagmakers offers a whole range of flag-related items -- including "patriotic footwear." Yes, you can wear the flag on your feet! Isn't that a bit disrespectful?
Wait -- I know what you're thinking -- "But this law isn't going to be about toothpicks or flag-shaped cakes! It's about the real flag! And I know what the real flag looks like! And we can all tell the difference between the real flag and a picture of one, or a cookie colored like one!" -- Right?
Well, don't send me death threats until you've read The Definition of the American Flag, which will show you just how detailed your lawmakers are when it comes to defining things like "flag."
Please also check out the Thanks Page
and the comments this page has generated.
Warren S. Apel