Proposed Constitutional Amendment offered by the American Legion: "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
From: Brian L. Higbee, Research Analyst, Legislative Division, The American Legion
Dear Mr. Higbee:
Thanks for contacting me. My father served in Europe in WWII, so I understand the emotional connotations people have for the flag. Like you, I do not believe people should disrespect what the flag stands for.
Unfortunately, I do not support the Constitutional amendment you propose. Protesters do not burn the U.S. flag, they burn a U.S. flag. Assuming the flag is their personal property, they have a right to dispose of that property as they see fit...on their own property (though not necessarily on public property).
I see respect for property rights as a fundamental foundation for a free society. Once one grants the principle that one group of people may dictate to certain other people how they may or may not peacefully use their property, there is no stopping that process. Without the recognized and respected right to decide how to use your property, you become nothing more than a servant, acting how those with more power than you tell you to act.
Respect for property rights has become virtually nonexistent in our country. Governments at all levels tell us how to utilize our homes and property; what we can or cannot buy or sell or build; even what color to paint our homes. Our income is not seen as belonging to us but to the government which permits us to keep some small percentage of what we earn. We become part-time slaves in which others determine how our work, our lives will be led. Whether it is gun rights, the food we eat, who we can hire and fire, government seeks to intrude its tendrils into every nook and cranny of our lives.
I believe this trend is dangerously wrong.
Freedom demands that we protect unpopular opinions and unpopular choices or it means nothing. Protecting the popular is no test of liberty. Each of us has the right to be wrong. I see the proper role of government as protecting our individual rights, as respecting our individual moral autonomy, in creating the conditions for each of us to make our own personal and peaceful choices. Government does not properly have the right to impose one set of morality on us all...because that always boils down to the biggest, strongest gang imposing its will on the rest of us.
So, again, I regret I must disagree. I personally respect the ideas the U.S. flag represents too much to violate those principles. While I treat my personal flags carefully, I do not think "there oughta be a law" to prevent others from treating their property differently. I personally believe persuasion -- not force -- is the proper way to handle disagreements in our society.
Libertarian candidate for Congress