Flag burning

 | 1 min

The US Senate just took a vote on whether to amend the constitution so that flag-burning could be banned. It failed by one vote.

The ability for Americans to burn the American flag in protest seems to be the very epitome of the American ideals of freedom and free speech. You can't have a free society or a good democracy without the ability of the citizens to freely criticise the government without reprisals. If you start outlawing that kind of criticism, you are starting down the staircase towards fascism.

Sure, this amendment would only provide the ability to outlaw flag desecration, not actually outlaw criticism or free speech. But flag burning itself is useless as a practical form of protest - it is solely a symbolic gesture. Trying to criminalize the symbol of free speech is symbolic of criminalizing free speech itself.

I'm glad the vote failed, but I'm chilled by the fact that in the (self-styled) world bastion of freedom, it failed by only one vote.