June 27, 2006
FLAGBURNING IDIOCY: I agree with James Taranto:
No doubt you are dying to know where this column stands on the flag-desecration amendment. The answer is, we are against it. Our view is that the Supreme Court got it right in 1989: Insofar as desecrating the flag is an act of political expression, it is protected by the First Amendment. (The objection that it isn’t “speech” is overly literal. What we’re doing now–causing pixels to form meaningful patterns on thousands of computer screens–isn’t exactly speech either, but we like to think the First Amendment protects it from government interference.)
Burning the flag is a stupid and ugly act, but there is something lovely and enlightened about a regime that tolerates it in the name of freedom. And of course it has the added benefit of making it easier to spot the idiots.
Or, to put it more succinctly: “I notice it and just think ugh, they’re doing that again.” Indeed. On the other hand, people who are more upset about a ban on flagburning than about McCain-Feingold are on shaky free-speech ground. Michael Barone looks at that contradiction.