Free-Speech Jackassery Built Right Here in the US!

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?

24 thoughts on “Free-Speech Jackassery Built Right Here in the US!

  1. Burning the flag? Kick their ass!

    What happened to the old veteran that would say, “I hate that someone would desecrate our flag, but I will still fight to the death to preserve their right to do it.” Unfortunately some lawmakers seem to forget about sentiments like that&…

  2. But, but, we only care about foreign jackassery.

    Personally I believe it’s stupid to burn the flag but stupid isn’t a crime last time I checked. Legalizing a form of assault, on the other hand, is more than stupid. It’s unconstitutional.

    I’d say we legalize shooting people who talk on cell phones during movies if we’re going to start making former crimes into condoned laws.

  3. Oddly enough, my Congressional representative is running unopposed this year. Maybe I could run against him. The only problem is, he’s the new House Majority Leader. I think the RNC might put a little muscle in the race.

  4. Run, John, run! And not away, either. Everyone should run for office. You get to write a platform, and you get to learn more than you want (but not more than you need) to know about democracy in the USA.

    Seriously. I have no regrets about running for Governor of Minnesota. Okay, except that I sometimes fear I made it safe for Jesse Ventura to run, but I know I didn’t.

    It’s time-consuming, and it’s frustrating, but in many ways, being sure that you’ll lose is liberating.

    If you put up a Bitpass donation jar, I’ll send you a quarter.

    Oh, and folks you know will give you campaign slogans. Gene Wolfe gave me, “It Better Be Shetterly.” I don’t think, “Get palsy with Scalzi” is quite right, but who’s to say?

    You could maybe piggyback on Kinky Friedman’s Texas efforts. Or oppose it. Who knows?

    But I am serious. If you’re the tiniest bit tempted, do it. Do it seriously, or do it in jest and make one or two serious points along the way, but do it. Especially if the incumbent is running unopposed. People who don’t like him deserve a reason to go to the poll on election day.

    Okay, I’ll send you fifty cents.

  5. Fifty cents! Man, I’m in.

    I actually gave some thought to running in a very passive sense, simply as a public service to those who don’t wish to vote for Boehner, but the thought of the RNC going through my credit card purchases for the last 10 years bugs me. I don’t think the world needs to see how much Internet porn — uh, I mean, general online content — I’ve subscribed to over the years. Also, of course, I’d have to clear it with my campaign manager, i.e., Krissy. I don’t think she has a hankerin’ for me to go to Washington during the week.

  6. First we beat the rest of the world by fixing the bomber gap, and after that the missle gap. But the fight is never over. God bless Sam Gaskill and his heroic efforts to keep our country strong by closing the critical asshole gap.

  7. I’m shocked! Shocked, I say!

    I never thought I’d see the day when a Republican tried to stomp on our civil liberties to get what they wanted. </snark>

  8. I don’t think there’s much chance of it passing either.

    Generally speaking if legislation is unpassed after 6 years it means it has died somewhere.

    (note the date at the top of that webpage)

    I’m not proud to be a Missourian. We have done some mighty stupid things. We produced Ashcroft. But if I recall correctly this proposal never got much mileage.

  9. Gaskill tried unsuccessfully to pass that legislation three times. He is no longer a State Rep, but he was quoted back in 2004 when the Flag Desecration amendment was making its rounds again.

  10. Gabe:

    “Legalizing a form of assault, on the other hand, is more than stupid. It’s unconstitutional.”

    You’re right, but I’d rather say “It’s more than unconstitutional. It’s stupid.”

    The constitution was, after all, formed by clear-headed men who allowed it to take shape according to reason. American legislators ought to exercise logic; to the extent that they don’t have to rely on constitutional safeguards preventing their folly. They should see that if you give the citizens of any country a legal way of administering a patriotic beat-down, they will totally take advantage.

    No worries, I’m sure they will, too.

  11. I don’t think the world needs to see how much Internet porn — uh, I mean, general online content — I’ve subscribed to over the years. If you’re paying for Internet porn, I may have to reconsider whether I want you handling my tax dollars.

  12. Well, see, if you want porn that lasts longer than a 30-second clip…

    Damn, said too much already.

  13. John, if the campaign manager is nervous, assure her that you’ll run an ideal campaign. You’ll speak your mind, and be fair and thoughtful and absolutely honest. No way you’ll win then.

    But you’d still get a lot of people saying they wish you’d had a chance. Best of both worlds.

    As for your years of investigating the dangers of internet pornography, tell ‘em you’re proud to say you haven’t found any evidence that it’ll harm anyone, but you’re keeping an open mind, so your research must continue. Keeping America safe is so important that you’re prepared to pornsurf in Congress while your fellow reps talk about less important matters. Challenge your opponents: Have you spent as much time pornsurfing as I have? Have you put your butt in the chair and looked into the electronic maw of America’s fantasies for hours on end and survived? Wake up, America! Vote for John Scalzi! He knows what the internets are for!

  14. I forget who said it, but I like the “if you want to make a symbolic gesture towards the USA flag, you may want to WASH it.”

  15. “What happened to the old veteran that would say, “I hate that someone would desecrate our flag, but I will still fight to the death to preserve their right to do it.”

    Hopefully he was sued for plagarism, because he’s mangling a Voltaire quote.

  16. if there aren’t laws that require American flags to be manufactured exclusively in America, then citing a citizen for flag desecration is silly. What’s your take on that, John?

  17. well, I’m nought a pro writer, but it follows something like this….since most of our flags are made in other countries, which is sort of a desecration of the flag itself….when a protester burns a flag, what’s the big crime. It can’t be the “principle” of the whatyoumacallit anymore because the flag, itself, ain’t really kosher to begin with. Something along those lines. Thanks.

  18. One does wonder what would happen if someone were to burn an American flag to make his point about freedom of speech, then shoot dead the thugs who physically attacked him, with well-placed 10mm slugs from a Glock 20, eh?

    Let the anti-freedom vermin try to justify prosecution of a man for defending his life and safety against thugs, especially after MPEG4 videos of the whole affair, from several hidden cameras, were broadcast *all* over the Internet to prevent the vermin from successfully lying about about what actually happened.

  19. One does wonder indeed. However, I would personally prefer no one actually try this experiment. Seems a little extreme.

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