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Dave Hitt

We Americans love our flag. We wave it and salute it and hang it all over the place. We sing songs about it, march behind it, pledge allegiance to it and go to war under it. We use the colors and designs to decorate everything from paper plates to toys to beverages to teddy bears. Nearly every item ever made is available somewhere with a flag attached or the Stars and Stripes painted on it.

We don't just love the design, which still looks fresh and timely after two hundred years, but what it stands for - a country that was, for a little while, the freest in the world, until the nannies and lawyers and the Supreme Court and the civil serpents took a sledge hammer to its foundations.

Once in a great while someone protests by burning or otherwise defacing an American flag. It doesn't happen very often because even the dumbest protester knows it will turn everybody against him, including people who might have otherwise been sympathetic to his cause.

There are people dumber than flag-burning protesters. They serve in the House of Representatives, and every couple of years they pass a constitutional amendment that prohibits flag desecration. It seldom goes beyond that - there are (barely) enough level heads in the Senate to see to that - but it lets the boys go back home and brag to their more ignorant constituents that they tried to make America safe by mangling the Constitution.

Modifying the Bill of Rights for such a trivial, seldom-committed offense would be final proof that every freedom the flag stands for is gone. The only way to commemorate passage of such an amendment would be to burn the flag, not loudly and angrily, but sadly and quietly, remembering that it once stood for something that no longer exists.

An Illegal Flag Burning DeviceFlag amendments use the word "desecration" without defining it. Would the title graphic for this article be considered desecration? It wasn't intended to be. I spent well over an hour tweaking it to look its respectful best, but if it pisses off a senator will the feds come knocking on my door? If a flag patch on the sleeve of a police uniform is OK, is the same patch acceptable on the ass of a pair of filthy, ripped jeans? Is it desecration to make a shirt out of a flag? How about a shirt that just looks like it's made out of a flag? How about a shirt that doesn't look like a flag, but uses the Stars and Stripes theme? Would a flag bikini be considered OK if it were worn by an attractive woman, but desecration on an ugly fat chick? How about a good looking woman who is a little overweight? And if clean flag underwear isn't considered desecration, dirty flag underwear would have to be. What could be more disrespectful than the inevitable light brown stains on Old Glory underpants?

Passing an amendment of this type is also a clear violation of the separation of powers. Nullifying the Bill of Rights is not the job of the legislative branch. It is the job of the Supreme Court. They have been doing a consistently fine job of chipping away at the second through tenth amendments for decades. The first amendment is the only one they understand, like and uphold. Congress shouldn't screw up the last one we have left.

But the boys in the House won't quiet down until they can convince the redneck voters back home that they have Done Something. So, as a patriotic American, I'd like to propose an amendment that will satisfy everyone and leave the first amendment alone.

The Hittman Flag Burning Amendment:

1. Congress shall make no law preventing anyone from referring to anyone who protests by burning, desecrating, or otherwise treating the flag disrespectfully as "that asshole."

2. No one referred to as "that asshole" in accordance with Section One shall have any recourse in any court of law for being referred to in such a way.

This gives us an unfettered ability to express our disdain and provides us with a satisfying and insulting legal description of people who misuse the flag in protest. It should please everyone, from freedom loving Americans who have actually read the constitution to the rabid-right-three-piece-suit congressmen and their voters who think a full set of teeth is "snobby." Best of all, it leaves the last remaining piece of the Bill of Rights intact.

July, 1999

© 1999 Dave Hitt

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