People For the American Way today criticized approval of the Flag Desecration Amendment by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The amendment, if adopted, would prohibit any physical desecration of the flag and be the first constitutional amendment to roll back liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
PFAW President Ralph G. Neas made the following statement: “I am very disappointed at the Judiciary Committee’s willingness to attack the Bill of Rights. Freedom of expression is one of our most fundamental rights as Americans. It’s unconscionable that the committee would undermine the First Amendment in an effort to score political points.
“Destruction of the flag as a form of political speech is extremely rare. We do not need to coerce patriotism in America, and we should not let the behavior of a handful of individuals cause us to surrender the very freedoms that make us a beacon of liberty for the rest of the world.
“If we make exceptions to the First Amendment whenever we don’t like a particular form of expression, then the First Amendment doesn’t mean anything at all.”
In order to amend the Constitution, the flag measure must pass the Senate with a two-thirds majority and be ratified by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states. The amendment has already passed in the House of Representatives.
PFAW urges the Senate to protect the Constitution and reject this destructive amendment. No symbol is more important than our freedoms.