Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Political Superstitions (part 1): Anti-Desecration Laws

 I addressed this particular sentiment back on August 16th and I didn't think it was a particularly contentious issue in our day and age, regarding it as a remnant of a more authoritarian past, until the future president expressed support for it on Twitter and his lackeys chimed in agreement. It's apparent that Trump, like his 'constitutional lawyer' predecessor, understands neither constitutional law nor, more importantly, moral law. Both are explicit about the restraints on government power in regards to free speech and expression.

'CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.'

In fact the SCOTUS has already made this much clear regarding flag desecration in Texas vs. Johnson
(a) Under the circumstances, Johnson's burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct, permitting him to invoke the First Amendment. The State conceded that the conduct was expressive. Occurring as it did at the end of a demonstration coinciding with the Republican National Convention, the expressive, overtly political nature of the conduct was both intentional and overwhelmingly apparent.
(b) Texas has not asserted an interest in support of Johnson's conviction that is unrelated to the suppression of expression and would therefore permit application of the test set forth in United States v. O'Brien, 391 U. S. 367, whereby an important governmental interest in regulating nonspeech can justify incidental limitations on First Amendment freedoms when speech and nonspeech elements are combined in the same course of conduct. An interest in preventing breaches of the peace is not implicated on this record. Expression may not be prohibited.
The Government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable, even where our flag is involved.
More importantly, Moral Law also places the same restraints on the exercise of power: that every person should have the freedom to do all that he/she wills provided he/she does not infringe on the same freedom of any other person.

It is instantly obvious that if a person burns an American flag, that they own, and especially if they do so on their own property, they are not preventing other people from exercising the same freedom to do what they wish with their own American flags. No person or group of people is therefore justified in initiating violence against them. They may ridicule, scorn, ostracize, and use all other manner of social pressure to change that person's behavior, but they may not initiate violence against that person. Any resort to initiatory violence is a regression to the law of the jungle or 'might makes right', regardless of what phony pretense they may cook up to justify violating another person's natural rights.

This sentiment that the American flag is sacred and 'represents American values' is no different in character than the divine right of kings, anti-blasphemy laws, the labor theory of value, the belief that governments create rights and all other political superstitions: it's rank nonsense. Furthermore, performing rituals to 'revere the flag' is really nothing more than a crude form of idolatry. Historically, the U.S. has had several different flags, the first one being the Gadsden flag, each no more sacred than its predecessor.

What Trump's sentiment really amounts to is this: the government should kidnap anyone who burns a piece of colored fabric, they own, that has a certain pattern. Implicit in this is the belief that a piece of colored fabric with a certain pattern is more valuable than human life, which contradicts his pro-life stance. What Trump has made clear is that leftists aren't the only enemies of natural rights and since conservatives have taken the helm of power in Washington the next four years will require combating the power grabbing right. 

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