Sunday, July 02, 2006

Wear It on Your Ass with Pride 

"The fact is that I was asked this afternoon by a large body of media: Is this the most important thing the Senate could be doing at this time? I can tell you, you're darn right it is."
--Sen. Orrin Hatch, on a proposed constitutional amendment
to ban flag-burning, Tuesday, June 27, 2006

What ho! As you have surely read elsewhere, the abovementioned constitutional amendment tragically failed, by a single vote, to pass the Senate, which means that Our Flag remains in a state of profound jeopardy as we write. We were frankly appalled to find our usually-congenial colleague Robt. Geiger, who as a vet should certainly appreciate the magnitude of the ongoing emergency, noting that:
You are at least eight times more likely to be killed by a direct lightning strike in the U.S. than to see an American flag burned.

According to the National Weather Service's
Lightning Safety web page, an average of 66 people are killed each year by lightning in the United States, with 32 such deaths in 2004 . . . .

The number of flags the CFA [
Citizens Flag Alliance] says were desecrated in the United States in the first six months of 2006: Four.
Does anyone doubt that if Orrin Hatch and his Republican colleagues (with the full support of Sen. H. Clinton, D-NY) were to introduce a constitutional amendment banning fatal lightning strikes, Mr. Geiger would oppose it -- on the grounds that it would "only" save 66 lives per year? But we digress. There is a larger flaw in Mr. Geiger's argument: his definition of "desecration" is absurdly narrow. As David Harris of AlterNet points out:
The Flag Code, first adopted by Congress in 1923 and reaffirmed many times since, as recently as 2002, lists a number of ways the flag can be dishonored. One is the use of the flag for advertising.

Section 8, "Respect for flag" warns (i) "The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever."

Section 3 formally links advertising flags to physical desecration in its title: "Use of flag for advertising purposes; mutilation of flag." The section declares any person "within the District of Columbia" who "shall (have) attached, appended, affixed, or annexed … any advertisement of any nature" to the flag, "shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor …"

The Supreme Court twice has struck down state and federal laws against defacing or destroying the flag, once in 1989 and again in 1990. But the court's ruling was not comprehensive or absolute. When the flag's misuse was part of a public political demonstration, the First Amendment protected the individual's action. But it is unclear whether the court would rule that when the desecration of the flag is for commercial purposes, the First Amendment would protect the company's actions.

We ask you as a matter of public duty to pay close attention to commercial television broadcasts -- especially those that involve sporting events -- for the next couple of days. If you see the American flag being trotted out to peddle beer, soda, wieners, chips, small trucks, SUV's, footgear, swimwear (left), suntan oil, personal hygiene products, or the World Wrestling Federation, make a note. Write down the show you're watching, the name of the sponsor, and the product being advertised, and forward the relevant information to:

Sen. Orrin Hatch
United States Senate
104 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-4402
Phone: 202-224-5251
Fax: 202-224-6331
E-mail: http://hatch.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Offices.Contact
Purchase the music of Sen. Orrin Hatch at http://www.hatchmusic.com/songs.html

We guarantee you, he'll want to know all about it. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, etc., etc.

UPDATE: What do Abbie Hoffman and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers have in common? More shocking examples of flag desecration from our rambunctious colleague Buck Batard of Bad Attitudes.

UPDATE II (courtesy of Zemblan patriot J.M.): What do Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers and Peter Fonda have in common? (Answer at right.)

Gitcha motor runnin'!

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