"I fear the unintended consequences of these
17 words and the laws that may be enacted later
will be far worse than the consequences of us witnessing
the occasional and shocking and disgusting desecration
of this great symbol of liberty and freedom."
U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) - Veteran
Excerpt of Testimony Given Before
The Senate Judiciary Committee on April 28, 1999
Today marks a sad day in history. It's a day that, I fear, our children and our children's children will talk about in years to come. Today, the House approved a constitutional amendment that would give Congress the power to ban desecration of the American flag. For the first time, this amendment stands a strong chance of passing in the Senate as well.
By a 286-130 vote - which is eight more than was even needed - House members approved the amendment after a heated debate over whether such a ban would stand or run afoul of the Constitution's free-speech protections.
I've never burned a flag ... nor do I ever intend to ... but, like the Patriot Act, this amendment is another step towards whittling away our constitutional rights of free speech. America was founded as a free country. What separates us from China or Cuba is that our people can have anti-government protests without the fear of prosecution.
My father was a veteran who bravely volunteered to go to Vietnam. He didn't agree with the war itself but he believed he should support our country. This amendment is exactly the kind of oppression he fought against. And, although he isn't alive to tell you himself, many other veterans have stepped forward to voice their concerns.
I'm not asking you to write your congressman or march on Washington ... but I am asking you to read. Find out what this issue is about ... find out what we're in danger of losing. Ten years ago, before I met my husband, I never watched the evening news let alone followed politics or politicians. So, I understand when people don't get involved. Life moves fast and I'll be the first to admit it's hard to add another item on the daily to do list.
But do you realize only 51% of surveyed students believe that newspapers should be free to publish without government approval? We're only one generation away from a major shift in this country ... and when we open our eyes to find it's already happened, I'm afraid we're all going to be in for a rude awakening.
No more backwards thinkin, time for thinkin ahead
The world has changed so very much from what it use to be
There's so much hatred war and poverty
Wyclef Jean - Wake Up Everybody