- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2001

Dont confuse flag-burning with free speech

In his June 8 Commentary column "Freedom and flag-burning," R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. wrote that the Flag Protection Amendment "encroaches on the First Amendment rights of speech and expression."

I beg to differ. When this amendment is passed, not one word of the Bill of Rights will have been changed. In fact, for more than 100 years before 1989, 48 states had laws protecting the flag from physical desecration. These laws were supported by the will of America´s citizens. The laws didn´t affect the Bill of Rights at all. They merely did what they were intended to do protect our nation´s most cherished symbol, and our Constitution endured quite well, thank you.

Our nation is run by a government touted to be of the people, by the people and for the people. In poll after poll, 80 percent of the American people support an amendment to protect the American flag from physical desecration. Forty-nine state legislatures, listening to their constituents, have passed resolutions calling for an amendment to protect our flag.

So what´s the holdup? The people have spoken. A razor-thin U.S. Supreme Court majority took away the people´s right to protect their flag, and they deserve to have that right given back.

The House and the Senate should fix what the Supreme Court broke. Let the people decide the issue through the amendment process guaranteed in Article V.

My 2.8 million-member American Legion, and our 27 million partners in 140 other Citizens Flag Alliance organizations, support the people´s definition of free speech. It does not include the hateful conduct of flag desecration. In the end, the will of the people will prevail.


RAY G. SMITH

National Commander

American Legion

Washington




Legally protecting the United States flag will not change the Constitution by "encroaching on the First Amendment" as R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. wrongly concluded ("Freedom and flag-burning," June 8).

In fact, I challenge anyone to find the word "expression" in the First Amendment. Our Founding Fathers deliberately left out the term "expression" because they wisely realized that not all forms of expression should be protected. Physically desecrating the U.S. flag is a hateful act, not speech. Some courts have tampered with our Constitution by overstepping their interpretive powers. In the case of flag desecration, a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision wrongly reversed five previous courts by a razor thin five-to-four margin, overturned 100 years of jurisprudence, the laws of 48 states and a right enjoyed by the American people since the birth of our nation.

I am one of those veterans Mr. Tyrrell refers to in his diatribe who swore allegiance to our Constitution and served in uniform for 26 years. That Constitution gives me and my fellow Americans the right to redress grievances under Article V. Today, 80 percent of the American people and 49 state legislatures want Congress to pass the measure and send it back for ratification. I predict it will become the fastest amendment to pass in the history of our nation, once the thin minority of lawmakers who have previously blocked passage, re-examine their oath to uphold the Constitution and let the people decide. Because in America it is the people, not the courts, who govern.

Our Founding Fathers expect no less.


JOSEPH H. MARCH

Carmel, Ind.

Capital punishment or painless euthanasia?

Its unfortunate that the living victims of Timothy McVeighs misguided, murderous acts believe that they must propitiate the premature taking of their loved ones, their heartfelt grievances and their need for revenge with a painless and sanitary state execution. A lifetime caged without visits would seem to be a more just punishment than euthanasia.

Capital punishment, or capital revenge, didn´t prevent McVeigh from acting upon his misdirected anger. He committed suicide by multiple-murder. Nor will the threat of capital punishment stop anyone else, sane or deranged, from following in his footsteps.

Does any other thing reveal our nearly total lack of faith in hell, or divine justice, then does the so-called death penalty?


RAND KNOX

San Rafael, Calif.

No race bias in death penalty, or just the 'right' bias?

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced Wednesday, "The Reno study concluded, and our analysis has confirmed, that black and Hispanic defendants were less likely at each stage of the departments review process to be subjected to the death penalty than white defendants" ("No race bias seen in death penalty," Nation, June 7). According to Mr. Ashcroft, this finding means that "here is no evidence of racial bias in the administration of the federal death penalty."

Surely, Mr. Ashcroft has performed additional analyses to conclude an absence of racial bias. How else could the correct conclusion not be that there are at least two racial biases in the administration of the federal death penalty: a favorable bias toward black and Hispanic defendants, and an unfavorable bias toward white defendants? Of course, such a double bias would be cause for concern because, in the administration of the death penalty, all bias is a grave matter, and there is no "correct" bias is there?


DAVID E. GRAYBILL

Arlington

Israel, love it or leave it

It is unfortunate that Ibrahim Hooper, in his letter to the editor, reads so much into Cal Thomas June 6 Commentary column "Casualties of the terror coalition" ("Readers find columnists proposal inhumane," June 8). He asserts that Mr. Thomas proposal "to transfer large numbers of Palestinian residents to Arab nations" is evidence that he "believes Palestinians are a genetically inferior stock that must be prevented from polluting Israels racial and religious purity." Mr. Thomas, however, did not say that at all. Rather, I saw his proposal as similar to the refrain from the 1960s: "America, love it or leave it" only pertaining to Israel.

When the Palestinians and neighboring Arab states teach in their schools that Israel and the Jews are evil and that it is acceptable to riot and destroy, one wonders about the motives of the Arab Islamic community. And worst of all, when they glorify in the minds of young children the terrorist activities of suicide bombers as martyrdom, the road to heaven, one truly must question whether they want peace.

Perhaps Mr. Hooper believes that Mr. Thomas paints with too wide a brush the Palestinian motives. That may be true. However, if there are Arabs and Palestinians who oppose the violence and who desire to live together in harmony as countrymen with the Israelis, they must speak up now and take control of both the debate and their violent factions. Of course, that works both ways: The extreme voices on both sides must succumb to the voice of reason.


BILL FROST

Fredericksburg, Va.

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