Friday, June 24, 2005

Ken Salazar, Flag-Burning Crusader

Dear Sen. Salazar,

It was with a sick heart I read of your decision to vote to pass the Flag Burning Amendment. Please reconsider this decision.

You gave as your reason that you think of the "flag-draped coffin of [your] father and his love for this country." I respect your love for your father and his service to this country. I have many family members who served in peacetime, love my country, and take pride in flying the flag, as well.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Democratic Party, Joelle Martinez, said this decision shows you are "an indepedent thinker who follows his heart and follows his gut on this kind of thing." But banning flag burning in protest -- an action that rarely ever happens -- strips us all of that same indepedence of thought you enjoy.

Flag burning is a thought crime. The proper way to dispose of a flag is to burn it. How are we to determing whether a flag is being burned in the proper fashion? Will we assume someone wearing a GOP lapel pin is burning it properly, while someone in a MoveOn.org t-shirt is violating the Constitution? What if someone burns the flag in protest, but does it in a solemn public ceremony? Will the authorities have to determine the irony? And will there be a statute of limitations if the perpetrators later admit their true intentions?

That's going to be one long, convoluted amendment full of caveats; or a vague, unenforceable or patchily enforced one -- enforced only against the one guy every year who burns the flag in anger. Such an amendment would be nothing more than a symbol itself.

The Constitution is meant to be the laws which protect our human rights. The Flag Burning Amendment is meant to protect -- with all due respect -- a piece of colored cloth and your sensibilites -- from the exercise of our human rights.

You have independence of thought; you also have power. You would use that power to deny the rest of us independence of thought. Think of your stated motivations...some people do not show the flag, our country, or your father the proper respect. You would use your power to shut those people up.

Please do not pass the Flag Burning Amendment.


Sincerely,

Julie O.

(This is very close to the email I sent, but I hit submit before I copied the letter.)

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