Friday, July 01, 2005

Sen. Salazar's Defense Inadequate

Dear Sen. Salazar,

I appreciate greatly your response to my first email. However, I felt your defense of the Flag Burning Amendment was inadequate, is the amendment does directly and solely compromise the First Amendment's protection of freedom of expression.

You claim the amendment only protects the physical integrity of the flag from attack. But it would not protect the flag from other attacks on its physical integrity, such as for commercial or artistic ventures or when the President of the United States signs his name on them. If the flag is so sacred and worthy of protection, shouldn't its integrity be protected from all manipulations?

If not, then the Amendment you are proposing only protects the flag from certain types of attacks on its physical integrity . That is an abridgement of free expression incompatible with the First Amendment, since it only punishes those with whom you disagree.

The flag is not on loan to me from the government. I own it, as does every other American. I can buy it at a store or cut up sheets to make my own. I can draw it on a piece of paper or paint it on my car. In these cases, it is my personal property, and I will do with it what I please.

Its meaning is not owned by the government, either. I own its meaning, as does every other American. It is used to declare unity as a nation, such as when it is carried at a parade on the Fourth of July. It is used to declare superiority of some, such as when it is carried at a Klan rally. It is our symbol, and we will fly it for whatever purpose we believe in.

For me, the flag symbolizes not only freedom, ownership of private property, and the right to dissent; it also symbolizes my freedom to dissent by using my own private property. Contrary to your claims, I can't think of any other symbol which I can own as personal property which is protected from destruction.

Unless you support an amendment which would prohibit any manipulations of the flag for all purposes, and requires only that it be flown in an apparently neutral manner, I don't see how the Flag Burning Amendment can be anything other than an attack on political dissent which offends you. And I still wouldn't support it, because I think everyone should be able to use their flag to express themselves for any purpose they choose.

Julie O.

[Update] I edited out references to Sen. Salazar in a letter to the editor to Rocky Mountain News.

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