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Your e-mails: Banning flag-burning
The flag desecration amendment failed in the Senate by one vote.


Justice and Rights
Civil Rights
Supreme Court

(CNN) -- A proposed constitutional amendment to give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag failed to clear the Senate by one vote this week.

The amendment would have addressed the 1989 Supreme Court decision that burning an American flag is a political statement protected under the First Amendment. (Full story) asked readers to send in their thoughts about the proposed amendment. Here is a selection of those e-mails, some of which have been edited.

The Constitution tells us what rights we have, not those things we cannot do. The very mentality of the Constitution and the amendments is one of ability rather than limitations. Nobody thinks that burning the flag is a good thing, but neither is swearing or public nudity or hitting people. You don't see constitutional amendments stating that we can't swear, run around nude, or hit people.
John Pawlak, Los Alamos, New Mexico

While the flag is a symbol of our country, that is all it is. I regard burning it as similar to teenagers having extreme hairstyles and colors. Burning the flag lets disgruntled people feel different and blow off steam with no real harm done. It is much less harmful than shooting people or blowing them up with bombs.
Mac McAllister, Salem, Utah

I am completely against being able to burn our flag in protest. Our flag is a symbol of freedom and when I see it flying, it reminds me that I am an American, proud and free. If you are that unhappy with America and what she stands for, then find another country and leave, but leave my flag alone!
P. Proctor, Statesville, North Carolina

When someone burns a flag, what is "destroyed" is just a dollar's worth of cloth -- probably much less if it's outsourced. The flag as a symbol, and the feelings of pride and history and community it engenders live on in our hearts no matter how many physical versions are burned or dropped or draped around an athlete's shoulders. A flag-burner doesn't have the power to destroy those feelings. I don't think we should be prohibited from the act of flag-burning -- it's just one example of what makes our country and our Constitution great: The freedom we have as Americans to express ourselves, even against our country's leaders and policies, even by burning our country's flag. Too many countries can't say that. I would rather see 1,000 flags destroyed than see that freedom limited. Our flag can take the heat.
Judy, Columbus, North Carolina

Legitimate protest against a government or nation (yours or someone else's) is fine. Nobody's suggesting that it isn't. Flag-burning, however, is not protest, it's desecration. Suggesting that flag-burning is legitimate protest is like suggesting that incoherent screaming and yelling constitutes arguing. I would suggest that flag-burning isn't even nihilistic protest. Find a better way to make yourself heard on an issue. With respect: ACLU, there are many areas which cry out for your intervention. This isn't one of them.
Guy Warwick, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

As a former military member, I get extremely upset at pictures showing flag burning. I feel that it is a symbol of freedom and that if you don't like it, LEAVE! The flag should be protected by an amendment. The burning of the flag has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It is a physical act and should be punished by law as a terroristic act. The lawmakers need to stop bending to the special interest groups and actually take charge of the situation and protect something that means a lot to the majority of America.
Shayne, Kearney, Nebraska

I think amendments to the Constitution should be made only for highly significant matters that further clarify or extend the rights of the Constitution. For instance, the amendment to abolish slavery -- good. The amendment to prohibit the sale of alcohol -- well we all know how that one came out. A flag is a piece of cloth. It can be bought. It can be replaced. If someone is just as mad as they can be about where the country is heading and what the politicians are doing to us, why can they not show their dissatisfaction by burning a flag that they have purchased. I am much more concerned, as I believe a large portion of the citizens of our country are concerned, with protecting our rights as citizens, which seem to be eroding at an alarming rate, rather than protecting a symbol of the freedoms that are being taken away. Perhaps the people so interested in an amendment to protect the flag hope that attention to that will distract us from what is really happening to us.
Bennie Adams, Little Rock, Arkansas

For the Senate to expend energy on an issue like this is a complete play for press attention and an absurd waste of time and money when the U.S. is at war with Iraq, illegal drugs, budget reality, trade deficits and threats of nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran. Surely the Senate has more meaningful items on which to focus their energies. What an absurd agenda.
Philip Hutchins, Palm Springs, California

The defeat of this amendment is a victory for the First Amendment. The First Amendment was intended to protect all speech and expression, regardless of whether it follows popular sentiment or not. While the majority of Americans (myself included) oppose the desecration of Old Glory, the fact that Americans have the right to burn the flag in protest is what makes America great.
Tanmay G., Houston, Texas

Of course we should amend the Constitution to protect the flag. Our forefathers who fought and died for our country needs us as American citizens to do our part to protect the freedom and liberty for which our flag stands. Our men die daily fighting for freedom and to protect our country from terrorists. Our flag is a symbol for bravery, freedom, justice and liberty. We need to protect our flag and defend our freedom at all costs.
Judy Griffin, Centerville, Georgia

It should have been made illegal a long, long time ago! It is totally disrespectful to burn our national symbol of freedom! What is wrong with this country's elected officials? I don't think there's a backbone between all of them! I would like to see the Senate and the House swept clean of all those liberal, weak-livered officials in Washington. Thank God we have a president who stands up for what he believes (and what the majority of Americans believe) and sticks to his guns no matter how much mud is thrown at him.
Mary King, Richardson, Texas

Like it or not, our freedom of speech and expression have been in our Constitution from the beginning. People should be allowed to express themselves however they please. More government control is NOT what we need!
Jacyln, Norman, Oklahoma

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