The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill today (by a vote of 286 to 130) calling for a constitutional amendment banning the desecration of the American flag. The Republican-controlled Senate will vote on this bill next, making the measure a sure shot for becoming part of our Constitution. After four previous attempts since 1989 failed to reach the two-thirds majority in that wing, Neoconservative proponents of this amendment are peeing their pants in potential joy of protecting this “great American” symbol.
The amendment begs the question as to what exactly will be protected. Below are a few personal examples of where this amendment will be useless:
Five years ago at Burning Man, a random burner handed me a “Personal Flag Burning Kit.” It was a tiny USA flag on a tooth pick, taped to a cheap lighter. The flag was positioned over the flame, and the potential to spontaneously express myself was to large to hold back. I instantly burned the tiny flag and enjoyed every second.
About three years ago, I spent the Fourth of July at California’s only clothing-optional state park. Appropriately named the Red, White, and Blue beach, I enjoyed nude vollyball, sunbathing, and just plain hanging out (pardon the pun). On the Fourth, there was a camp bar-b-q, so I showed up clothed and had a burger and beer with all the folks there. There were all classes of Americans at this meal, singing bad karakoke, and enjoying themselves.
A woman walked up to the picnic area, wearing nothing except the American flag that was painted on her body. In glorious Fourth of July fashion, this woman had a painted-on one piece bathing suit of Old Glory. Yep, the stripes went all the way down to her nicely shaved crotch.
Being a patriotic American, ahem, these two examples of “waving the flag” are completely protected under the Constitution’s freedoms of expression. We know that Bush and Co. could care less about that amazing amendment, and are way more focused on curtailing all the flag slumming that goes on in the USA. I guess they need to pass something through Congress since they’re stuck on all fronts with judicial appointments, UN delegate appointments, Social Security reform, and… Iraq.
The flag of the United States is just a piece of cloth to me. When I hear people say that a soldier died for “flag and country,” I bite my lower lip and think of all those “losers” in this world who see that flag soaked in the blood of dead civilians. Peoples around the world, possessing something that the US government and corporations want badly (oil comes to mind, as does land) don’t see our flag as this glorious thing.
Here’s another flag story: In the 1800s, as the US headed west and killed the natives into submission, a tribal cheif made a pact with the “white grandfather” in Washington, DC. He agreed that his tribe would submit to peace with the blue-uniformed hordes that killed his people. He signed an agreement with the President himself, stating that he was pro-USA, and accepted all their demands. The US relocated his tribe, and they lived there for a while.
While the chief was in DC to sign the agreement, he was given a US flag as a sign of trust and friendship. For months, the chief proudly flew this gift outside his own teepee, and there was peace among his people. But the thirst and greed for the land that they had legally been moved to was too much for the US settlers and their sympathetic goverment.
So the US Army swooped in and began to massacre this chief’s peoples. They killed men, women, children; old and young. As his people died around him, the chief took down the US flag that the President had given him, and waved it as a sign of being a true American.
And he died with that flag in his hand. Just sewn pieces of white, blue, and red cloth; covered in blood of a man who thought it was a symbol of peace with the white man.
So if that amendment passes, I’ll be the first to buy a flag to proudly burn in public. The less logos and symbols in this world, the better. Besides, this white American owes that long-dead Indian chief.