Montana Senator Thinks The Third Time Is The Charm For His Anti-Flag Burning Amendment

from the stupid-on-repeat dept

Far too many government officials think it would be a good idea to lock up people for exercising their First Amendment rights. There's a lot of stuff certain politicians (including our former president!) and their supporters think should be criminal acts, but keep running head-on into the Constitution and its protection of speech.

At the top of this list is flag burning. This used to be a crime, but the Supreme Court said desecrating the flag was actually a form of criticism -- one fully protected by the First Amendment. That hasn't stopped a bunch of legislators from trying to make flag burning a crime. "Trying" is the key word here. The Supreme Court's Texas v. Johnson decision makes it pretty much impossible for flag burning bans to ever be considered constitutional.

But what if the Constitution could be changed? That's Montana Senator Steve Daine's idea. And it's one of his only ideas. Daines wants to amend the Constitution to make flag burning illegal. It's something he's wanted to do for several years now.

Daines first raised this idea in 2017. He floated it again in 2019. Those efforts went nowhere. Two years have passed and Daines is trying it again.

GOP Sen. Steve Daines (Mont.) on Monday reintroduced a constitutional amendment to bar the "physical desecration of the American flag."

“The American flag is a symbol of liberty and a beacon of hope. It represents the ideals that our nation was built upon and for decades, brave men and women have carried its colors into battle to defend the United States of America,” the Montana senator said in a statement released on Flag Day.

“The Stars and Stripes are a representation of freedom. We must always protect and respect the American flag,” he added.

Hey, Steve, the flag also represents the ideals of this country and the freedoms the government considers to be inalienable. One of those is the First Amendment, which strongly protects criticism of the government, including (but not limited to) setting the Stars and Stripes on fire.

The entirety of Daines' proposed amendment is this: the removal of Congress' gloves, allowing it to pummel the First Amendment in this specific way:

The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.

Daines isn't alone in this stupidity. The amendment has five co-sponsors: Marsha Blackburn, Mike Crapo, Shelly Capito, Kevin Cramer, and Pat Toomey. These are the six people who think the First Amendment should cover less than it already does and are willing to amend the Constitution to do it.

Let's say everyone goes straight fucking insane and this amendment is appended to the Constitution. That still won't make flag burning illegal. Congress will have to pass a law banning flag burning and get it signed by the President. Good luck. If Daines couldn't get this done in 2017 and 2019 with the then-leader of the free world agitating for jailing flag burners, it's not going to get done when there's someone a bit more rational holding the presidential pen set.

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Filed Under: 1st amendment, flag burning, free speech, steve daines


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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 1:18pm

    If you’re more worried about the flag than about the ideals and institutions it represents⁠—like, say, democracy and the right of all citizens to have a say in who gets to represent them⁠—you might be a Republican.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 1:21pm

    Sadly, the people who think flag burning should be illegal, have no problem with people desecrating the American flag by adding the thin blue line, Trump 2020, MAGA, Fuck Biden, WWG1WGA, QAnon, Fuck your Feelings, Trump Won, etc, etc, etc.

    Typical GQP thinking!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 1:25pm

    You forgot to mention the Punisher logo. Though I suppose that goes in tandem with “Back the Blue”…

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    TaboToka (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 1:53pm

    Re:

    adding the thin blue line

    If such an amendment were enacted and such a law were passed, we can then get those racists busted for their alt-traitor flag!

    BTW, What is physical desecration? Dry-humping & molesting? Using it as a spear? As a club? What about displaying it improperly? What about wearing it on clothing or wearing it as clothing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 1:54pm

    'That's not how you disrepect the flag, THIS is how you do so.'

    Because nothing shows more respect towards a flag that represents personal freedom and a country founded by overthrowing those in power by telling them they damn well will respect authority and no you most certainly are not allowed to engage in speech that shows disrespect towards it!

    The irony of course is that for all their faux outrage they are showing way more contempt towards the flag and what it stands for than any amount of people torching the thing ever could, venerating a piece of cloth over the ideals and history that it represents.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:01pm

    At least he's taking the correct approach to get what he wants.

    It's highly misguided, but at least it won't cost $ for courts to overturn it. It's actually the correct approach, legally.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    chopinblues (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:01pm

    So let me see if I have this right: desecrating the flag is "a form of criticism", but desecrating a BLM logo is a hate crime, right? If you believe this, you're an America-hater, as well as a racist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    Miles (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:06pm

    Does this bill allow the flag (and it's pole) to be used a weapon to bludgeon cops during an insurrection?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Pixelation, 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:09pm

    Next up...

    Steve Daines proposes an amendment to the Constitution making it illegal to disparage politicians. It would be just his style.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:10pm

    Re:

    you're an America-hater, as well as a racist.

    [Projects facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:19pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Bobvious, 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:20pm

    Re: Next up...

    "making it illegal to disparage politicians", and then compulsory to worship the king and his illegitimate offspring.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Bobvious, 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    Feel free to make your own Flag Lives Matter or Worship The Flag logos.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Khym Chanur (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    Desecrating a BLM logo isn't in-of-itself a hate crime in the U.S. There are laws making it if something is already a crime then punishment can be enhanced if it can be shown that the crime was motivated by hatred of a race/religion/etc. Depending on the circumstances of a crime, desecrating a BLM logo might be entered as evidence that the crime was motivated by hatred of blacks. But if you own a BLM logo and desecreate it then that, in-and-of-itself, is perfectly legal (assuming you don't, for example, burn it in a manner that violates a fire-safety law).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    chopinblues (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:24pm

    Re:

    So, we have already captured at least one racist America-hater -- anybody else?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Nope, just you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:26pm

    Daily reminder that Republicans hate and want to censor constitutionally-protected free speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    chopinblues (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:41pm

    HUH?!? If you think it's Republicans that are censoring speech, you have truly had your head up your ass for the past year or two!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    chopinblues (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:44pm

    Have you heard of political correctness? Public shaming? Cancel culture? violent riots (frequently in Berkeley) to stop conservative speakers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 2:47pm

    Re: At least he's taking the correct approach

    But Congress ignores most of the existing Constitution now, so amendments are unnecessary in the realpolitik world of Federal rule.
    Most of the current staggering expanse of Federal Government would not exist today if the Constitution was actually obeyed in WashingtonDC
    Don't fret over legal formalities though -- the three Federal Branches are run by the very Best & Brightest people anywhere (?)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:06pm

    Re: Re: At least he's taking the correct approach

    the three Federal Branches

    Especially when there is a sitting member of congress who thinks the 3 branches are You know, the House, the Senate, and the executive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:12pm

    Re:

    [Projects facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:13pm

    Free speech, free speech, free speech, and projection.

    Got any more debunked bullshit you want to fling, kool-aid-guzzling sheep?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    chopinblues (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: At least he's taking the correct approach

    And if the current party in power is ever successful in packing the court, they will have proved him right!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: At least he's taking the correct approach

    packing the court

    Funny, isn't that what McConnell did in denying a confirmation hearing during an election year, and then having a confirmation during an election year, all because it benefitted his party.

    Kind of sounds like.... packing the court.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:26pm

    Re:

    Note: that was originally in reply to the "chopinblues" spambot flagged just above. Not sure why it got untethered.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: At least he's taking the correct approach

    that isn't the genius comeback you probably thought it was

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Christenson, 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:31pm

    Deepfakes and old videos

    Creates a deepfake video of a flag burning
    Finds a video on youtube where a building with a flag on top was burning down for unrelated reasons
    Edits an old movie where people were following the official flag manuals and ceremonially burning the flag being retired

    Now, are these physical desecration???

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    chopinblues (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:57pm

    Re:

    the last is FACT, not projection. I'll be glad to post links to the MULTIPLE articles in the VERY LIBERAL San Francisco Chronicle describing these violent events.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 3:58pm

    'How dare you try to counter my hypocrisy!?'

    Republicans crying foul that the SC might be expanded and judges added to it that might not agree with them after they refused to seat one judge 'because it was an election year' and then rushed to seat another during an election year is like someone who you just watched stack a deck of cards in their favor screaming 'cheater!' when someone else moves to shuffle the deck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Does it ever make you stop and question why so many people do no want to hear republican speakers? (Also, I would love to see those links as to how violent they were)

    If Hitler were able to speak publicly tomorrow, wouldn't you want to do everything you could to stop him?

    Oh wait... you and your ilk think Hitler did a lot of good things. Bad example.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 4:14pm

    Re: Re:

    What about wearing it on clothing or wearing it as clothing?

    Wait... is it "only" an actual piece of cloth used to display the emblem of the United States, or does the image of the flag count?

    If it is even the appearance of the flag, then heaven help you if you display us_flag.gif... closing that window could be desecration!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. icon
    ECA (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 4:18pm

    If you think a flag means so much

    How about the respect for OTHERS flags.
    Muslim?
    Nazis?
    Palestine?
    Israel?
    Gay pride?
    China?

    If you dont mind burning THOSE for what they stand for, Why? Its the opinion of the person burning it. Not yours.

    And If you think that all flags should stand.
    I HOPE you know what the USA HAS/has not done in its name. defending your flag is 1 thing, running around to other countries to PROVE something, isnt defending.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. icon
    Bloof (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 4:22pm

    Re:

    A former Bush admin official making left wing content harder to find while ensuring right wing clickbait and conspiracy theories are promoted. Climate change and america's history of genocide and slavery being erased from school textbooks. Astroturf groups creating lists of professors to fire because they're deemed too left wing. People being barred from being employed by state governments unless they agree not to participate in any boycotts of Israel. Mass purges of anyone in office who doesn't wholeheartedly support Donald Trump. Plots to put hidden cameras on kids so parents can record teachers and get them fired for political reasons. Attempts to get entire fields of study vilified and banned because it teaches students racism is bad. Laws passed to try and compel professors and students to disclose their political leanings so politicians can withdraw funding if they're deemed too left wing... You need to close the Tim Pool and Andy Ngo videos you're watching as it ain't democrats doing that, champ.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Glenn, 9 Jul 2021 @ 4:26pm

    So, Steve... which is it? You love America and its ideals (one of which being Freedom of Speech), or you hate that Americans have the Freedom of Speech which includes burning the flag--a symbol of those ideals?

    Make up your mind. (No, no... I see that you already have: you hate America.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    chopinblues (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Fuck you asshole

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 5:38pm

    Re:

    They generally neglect the existing "rules" for proper display and care of flags anyway.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 5:39pm

    Re: 'That's not how you disrepect the flag, THIS is how you do s

    And that's how religious iconography works.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 5:42pm

    Re: Next up...

    Charged: Contempt of Muppet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40. identicon
    Glen, 9 Jul 2021 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Snowflake much?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    asshole

    [Projects facts not in evidence]

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 6:05pm

    Re: Re:

    You aren’t very good at this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 6:06pm

    Re: Re:

    Ok post em.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You came in here to troll and you played yourself son.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 7:48pm

    Re:

    HUH?!? If you think it's Republicans that are censoring speech, you have truly had your head up your ass for the past year or two!

    Yeah, you know, for such a widespread problem, I sure have heard a-lot about it. Care to speculate as to why?

    You'd think hearing about legitimate censorship would come from someone other than the supposed censors...then again, I think it's fairly obvious that you're just full of shit.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46. icon
    TaboToka (profile), 9 Jul 2021 @ 10:43pm

    Re: Re:

    I'll be glad to post links

    You posted that you'll post links, but you don't post the links. At this point I will have to say you're full of hot air.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Jul 2021 @ 11:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Triggered?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48. icon
    techflaws (profile), 10 Jul 2021 @ 2:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Noone cares about your fee fees, whiner.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49. identicon
    Manok, 10 Jul 2021 @ 4:36am

    Wouldn't it be great though, no more fat 'merkans desecrating that flag by wearing it as underwear, bikinis, etc...?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2021 @ 9:26am

    I will continue to display mine upside down. Wish I had it in me to put an upside down blue line flag on my car but some cop will certainly get triggered and fuck my day up eventually.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jul 2021 @ 9:30am

    Re:

    I also thought an LGBT Punisher to mock the unironic ones might be good at least for pride month, but concluded people would possibly just think I'm actually a bootlicking gun nut who happens to be gay and the joke would fall flat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52. icon
    Middle Bass Island (profile), 10 Jul 2021 @ 11:27am

    What is a U.S. flag?

    Defining a flag that should not be burned is hard to do intelligently.

    In the mid-1980s I was at a July 4th parade in Atlanta with a lot of nice U.S. flags in the parade, but someone was handing out free tiny flags that deserved burning. They had a big "Made in China" label, and the star field and stripes were badly misprinted and out of alignment.

    That was about the time the whole fuss about flag burning started, and I remember thinking that no one understood that some flags need burning.

    Taking any symbols too seriously is stupid and a waste of time and effort.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53. icon
    Samuel Abram (profile), 10 Jul 2021 @ 12:27pm

    Re:

    If you think the Americans wearing American-flag-patterned bikinis are fat, well, you just searched google images because I can guarantee there are plenty of fit Americans wearing American-flag-patterned swimwear and underwear…

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54. identicon
    That Other Other Guy, 11 Jul 2021 @ 2:08pm

    Wait? We can change Amendments?

    The NRA taught me that Amendments are involuble and anyone who claims otherwise is an American-hating damned commie liberal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Jul 2021 @ 1:50am

    Re:

    "but desecrating a BLM logo is a hate crime, right?"

    Know how we can tell you're trolling in bad faith, bro?

    You can burn any flag. It's legal and should be legal.

    If the flag you burn is that of your nation it tells everyone that you condemn the current actions of your nation.

    If the flag you burn is that of another nation it tells everyone that you condemn that nation.

    If the flag you burn is a Black Lives Matter flag then it tells everyone that you condemn the idea that Black Lives Matter.

    So yeah, you burn a BLM flag you just told everyone watching that you are quite likely a racist or carrying water for racists. You burn your own flag it is generally the highest expression of patriotism - that of holding yourself accountable for some action.

    As usual you alt-right asshats are utterly unable to patriot properly and don't grok context.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Jul 2021 @ 2:01am

    Re:

    Ironically the Trump cult and the current GQP have by now swung so far to the brownshirt section they are the literal image of anti-americanism.

    Any member of the Greatest Generation would be reaching for their M4 at the rhetoric spewed by these assholes - they'd recognize it well, having grown up fighting the wehrmacht.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Jul 2021 @ 2:07am

    Re:

    "Have you heard of political correctness? Public shaming? Cancel culture? violent riots (frequently in Berkeley) to stop conservative speakers?"

    You mean private citizens deciding they don't want to hear what the deplorable asshole has to say? Yeah, that's how free speech works.

    As opposed by the suggestion of you asshats in the alt-right who keep suggesting government violates 1A by telling people "Say THIS and we toss you in jail".

    And may I commend you on your latest nick, Baghdad Bob. Though given your persistent tells I have to say you might as well save yourself the effort and just keep posting anonymously since the content of your message keeps making your sock puppet's name irrelevant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58. icon
    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Jul 2021 @ 3:18am

    Re: Re:

    "...describing these violent events."

    Students protesting actual white supremacy advocates from appearing on the stage of their school? Sounds to me as if healthy principles still exist, then.

    It's time for you guys to realize that no one sane gives a fsck about your feelings, Proud Boy. Your kind isn't welcome where educated and civilized people gather. It's that simple. The citizenry as a whole doesn't want to hear what you have to say. And your great-grandparents remembering the 40's would be the first ones to show you the door.

    Once again for the slow of wit, then. Burning your own flag means that you currently hold your own nation accountable over something; it's the most patriotic thing you can do when you feel shame over the actions of you own country.

    Trying to forbid that expression equates to the stance that no matter how deplorably your nation has acted you are forbidden public dissent. Welcome to the soviet union, comrade.

    And burning a BLM flag, while legal, means you condemn the concept of Black Lives Matter. It's certainly legal but it does tell everyone around you that you sympathize with the people burning crosses.

    This is not rocket science. Except perhaps to the alt-right, I guess.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59. icon
    nasch (profile), 12 Jul 2021 @ 9:13am

    Re:

    So let me see if I have this right

    You don't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60. icon
    RyanNerd (profile), 31 Jul 2021 @ 11:35am

    I hesitate b/c the government could get dangerous ideas

    People who burn the flag in public could be fined or jailed for public endangerment. Fined for environmental violations (depending on if it is in a nanny state).
    There are a couple of others I thought of but the government has too much power as it is and I don't want to give them more ideas.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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