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Burning the Flag | My Thoughts on HB1014

Whenever any flag controversy arises, the media comes a-calling, asking the flag experts for a comment.

This past week, just such an occasion arose when the representative from Arkansas District 54, Mr. Johnny Rye, made news by submitting House Bill 1014 which would make stomping, defacing, or burning the flag punishable with up to one year in prison.

Unconstitutional and a Waste

Now, of course, nobody wants to see people burning the American Flag. But to make it unlawful is unconstitutional and flies in the face of our First Amendment rights and Freedom of Speech.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Not to mention, if enacted, it would further burden our already backed-up judicial and prison system with more frivolous laws to enforce and produce wasteful spending of our tax dollars.

In my interview with Channel 4 reporter, Jay Bir, I got on my soap box about how disappointed I was in our current Arkansas legislative session. I asked him – and now you – why are our state representatives wasting time and taxpayer’s dollars on bills that are either unconstitutional, narrow in focus, or don’t affect positive change in the life of every day Arkansans?

The flag burning proposal is unconstitutional, as is the recent abortion-ban bill (per our founding fathers.) And the “Stand Your Ground” bill, which did pass, does little for most Arkansans.

Being a Publicity Hound

So why are they even being proposed? I can only think of two reason:

1.) Either the lawmaker doesn’t know our country’s constitution, or

 2), the lawmaker is playing politics. He/she is a publicity hound who is trying to get their name in the paper.

Neither instill confidence.

Is it too much to ask our legislature to know our country’s constitution and follow the law. To work on bills that are passable, plausible, and help Arkansans? Things like job training, business opportunities, prison recidivism, homelessness, health care, and taking care of our “born” children through better diet, education, and family counseling.

The Interview

That evening, as I flipped on the news, I held my breath wondering which part of my interview Jay would use in his flag story. To my relief, he was kind and left out much of my rant. But on the flip side, I was a little disappointed, too. Having no plan of ever running for office, why not exercise my freedom of speech and speak my truth? Seems like the only people talking these days are the extremists or self-serving politicians.

Don’t we all want our elected officials to use common sense, understand the law, and have the best interest of their citizens at heart. Is that too much to ask … or say out loud?