Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to this resolution. The process may well be legal, but it is unwise.
The problem is minimal. This is more like a solution in search of a problem. We just do not need to amend the Constitution for such a tiny problem.
It was stated earlier that this is the only recourse we have since the Supreme Court ruled the Texas law unconstitutional. That is not true. There are other alternatives.
One merely would be to use State law. There are a lot of State laws, such as laws against arson, disturbing the peace, theft, inciting riots, trespassing. We could deal with all of the flag desecration with these laws. But there is another solution that our side has used and pretends to want to use on numerous occasions, and that is to eliminate the jurisdiction of the federal courts. We did it on the marriage issue; we can do it right here.
So to say this is the only solution is incorrect. It is incorrect. And besides, a solution like that would go quickly, pass the House by a majority vote, pass the Senate by a majority vote, and be send to the President. The Schiavo legislation was expedited and passed quickly. Why not do it with the flag? It is a solution, and we should pay attention to it.
Desecration is reserved for religious symbols. To me, why this is scary is because the flag is a symbol today of the State. Why is it, our side never seems to answer this question when we bring it up, why is it that we have the Red Chinese, Cuba, North Korea, and Saddam Hussein who support the position that you severely punished those who burn a flag? No, they just gloss over this. They gloss over it. Is it not rather ironic today that we have troops dying in Iraq, “spreading freedom” and, yet, we are here trying to pass laws similar to what Saddam Hussein had with regard to the flag? I just do not see where that makes a lot of sense.
Mr. Speaker, a question I would like to ask the proponents of this legislation is this: What if some military officials arrived at a home to report to the family that their son had just been killed in Iraq, and the mother is totally overwhelmed by grief which quickly turns to anger. She grabs a flag and she burns it? What is the proper punishment for this woman who is grieved, who acts out in this manner? We say, well, these are special circumstances, we will excuse her for that; or no, she has to be punished, she burned a flag because she was making a political statement. That is the question that has to be answered. What is the proper punishment for a woman like that? I would say it is very difficult to mete out any punishment whatsoever.
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