A Test Of Constitutional Honesty

First, a question: How do you feel about laws banning flag burning? Agree with them? Disagree? Think they’re constitutional? Think they’re unconstitutional?

Second, a hypothetical: Suppose on a block you have two neighbors. One of them is a Vietnam vet and has a kid serving in Afghanistan. The other is a pacifist hippie. One day the hippie, angered beyond measure by the latest news reports about Afghanistan, takes a flag, sticks it in the Veteran’s yard, and lights it on fire.

What should the law do to the hippie? Nothing because he was exercising freedom of speech? Punish him for trespassing? Or punish him for the trespass with an added penalty because he was attempting to harass and intimidate his neighbor?

Third, the test: Are your responses to this story any different from the question and hypothetical?

Daniel Earl Danforth, 30, [of Minden (not Haughton!)] was arrested Wednesday after being secretly indicted Friday in connection with a cross burning near the Athens home of an interracial couple, according to an FBI news release.

“A lot of people don’t take this seriously and don’t understand the meaning behind burning a cross,” said Steve Hall, supervisory senior resident agent in the FBI’s Shreveport office. “I think burning a cross is one of the most hateful symbols used to intimidate blacks. And anytime someone burns a cross in someone’s yard, we will use all our resources to investigate those crimes.”

This is my opinion, but I if your answers differ, I don’t think you’ve passed the test. That cuts both ways. Around these parts, most of the flunkies will be outraged by flag burning but immediately stand up for free speech when someone burns a cross. In other areas, though, the problem is reversed; they’re all about exceptions to the first amendment for burning crosses but then become absolutists when the flag is the tinder. In both cases, I think the real motive is something other than the Constitution.

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3 Comments on “A Test Of Constitutional Honesty”

  1. KC Says:

    I am against laws banning flag burning, but on the other hand, I don’t think a flag burner should be surprised if someone takes exception and punches them in the nose…..

  2. ttownfeen Says:

    As I was contemplating my response to part two of the test, I was considering what my response would have been had it been a hypothetical cross-burning instead of a flag-burning (and I didn’t read ahead, I swear). So does that mean I’m constitutionally honest or a psychic? 🙂


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