Update, 1:18pm: D’oh! This story is way stale — my fault for not checking the date. Please hold your free-expression outrage for a fresher target. Thank you.
Lest anyone think it’s just those wacky Muslim fundamentalists who have a hard time grasping the basic concept of free speech:
Saying the nation’s symbol “deserves more respect than the protest message of some liberal hippie,” a Missouri state lawmaker has introduced a bill legalizing the use of force to stop someone from desecrating the American flag.
Republican Rep. Sam Gaskill, a former fighter pilot in Vietnam, defended his bill yesterday, insisting the measure would prevent the defilement of an important symbol rather than promote violence.
“You should be able to take hold of the flag and take it off the ground and rescue it,” Gaskill said. “If the guy doesn’t want to let go of it or he swings back then the person ought to fight back.”
I guess I’m confused about the part where making it legal to beat the crap out of someone burning the US flag isn’t, in fact, totally abridging the flag-burner’s 1st Amendment rights, because if a bunch of good ol’ boys is busy stomping your ass, you’re not exactly going to be able to make your point. Mind you, in one sense this bill is entirely unnecessary because I’m pretty sure burning a flag in protest anywhere in Missouri will get your ass stomped anyway. It’s just now your stompees won’t have to perform 30 hours of community service afterward.
I’m not terribly concerned about this one becoming law, since there are no doubt legislators in Missouri who remember about that whole US Constitution thing, even if Mr. Gaskill apparently couldn’t pick it out of a lineup. Nevertheless, on the off chance it passed, what would be really amusing would be to burn one of the Not-Quite-American-Flags noted here in front of Mr. Gaskill and then, after he’s assaulted you, reveal that’s it not actually an American flag, and then sue his ass for lots and lots of damages! Bwa ha ha ha ha hah! Where’s your flag now, Mr. Gaskill?