Why can't I burn my flag?

This is a letter I wrote to the CFA website AFTER I read their page. The Citizens' Flag Amendment (I think it's called) would amend the Constitution to prohibit the "desecration" of the American flag. Find out the details for yourself here. This amendment should be an affront to every freedom-loving American.

Not surprisingly, I didn't get an answer.

In your FAQ, you keep mentioning "Most Americans". In a constitutional republic, which the United States was intended to be, the people are sovereign. This means that, except for those powers specifically granted to government, THE PEOPLE have ALL the rights. ALL the people. It doesn't matter what "Most Americans" want; each adult Citizen of a constitutional republic may do as he or she pleases, without causing harm to other citizens. Flag burning, while morally reprehensible to many Americans, doesn't actually HURT anyone (one's feelings and "sensitivities" are NOT constitutionally protected).

Congress has a right to make laws only when those laws do not infringe upon our basic human right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness" as outlined in the preamble to the Constitution. Your flag-burning amendment infringes on the citizens' right to do as they please, barring harm to others. We may not LIKE the particular actions of an individual, but if that individual isn't hurting anyone by his actions, there can be no law against his actions.

You say that you're getting back the freedom to protect our flag from acts of physical desecration; acts that you say are "evil and profoundly offensive." If we aren't ready to protect the rights of our least likeable citizens, then no one really has these rights. Belching at the dinner table is looked upon by some people as "profoundly offensive", yet these people wouldn't dream of making a law banning such behavior.

Despite what you say about today's "government restrictions on private property", there are currently no government restrictions on destroying my car, or even my house, if I choose (and if I actually *own* it). I'd probably even get away with burning it, if I did it in a safe and secure manner. In fact, all the regulations you mention in your FAQ could arguably be called unconstitutional.

The very idea of amending the Constitution in order to restrict citizens' behavior is itself an insult to the Founders. The Constitution is NOT a list of rights granted to citizens, as CFA would like to think. The Constitution is a list of enumerated powers granted to the federal government by We, the People. As pointed out above, The People retain all rights not specifically granted to government.

I agree with what you say about our flag. It is a proud symbol of this country's noble history, and it should be treated with honor and respect. I also believe that desecrating our flag is offensive behavior. I just cannot agree that government force is justified to prohibit behavior that *some* citizens find offensive.

"...the legitimate Power of civil government extends no further than to punish the man who works ill to his neighbor." Thomas Jefferson, 1801


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