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Burning the Constitution

I realize this might not be a popular view around here, but is there anything more ridiculous than the constant attempts to write a ban on flag burning into the Constitution? And is there anything more saddening than the fact that the Senate is only a hair's width away from putting its stamp on this foolishness?

I'm sorry, but how can anyone with an ounce of respect for the First Amendment support this?

Either American citizens have the right to speak -- to express themselves, to associate -- or they don't. Campaign-finance reform is a liberal's way of stifling speech he or she doesn't like. And a ban on flag burning is a conservative's way of stifling speech he or she doesn't like. Either both restrictions of speech are OK, meaning the government can restrict speech when a majority of citizens or their legislators want that speech restricted, or neither one is OK.

The whole point of the Bill of Rights, though, is that some decisions are simply beyond the reach of the democratic majority. Some individual rights are not subject to a veto by your neighbors.

Flag burning may be abhorrent. But it is a right.

Weakening the First Amendment is far too high a price for the Republican Party to wring some cheap publicity and political points out of forcing Democrats to choose between besmirching the Constitution and aggravating those foolish enough to equate a vote for free speech as a vote against patriotism.

Of course, I expect many readers to disagree with me. Want to weigh in?

Write to ryan-at-realclearpolitics.com

I'll try to post a batch of your thoughts later.