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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Thought Crimes & Misdemeanors

If you have never read George Orwell's 1984 then bookmark that page and read it this week. You'll need it once the Flag Burning Amendment makes it through the Senate. Here's the rub: the way Constitutional Law works, this Amendment will effectively nullify the free speech clause of the 1st Amendment. In other words, these words that I am writing right now could be declared a Thought Crime once this Amendment is passed. Sound crazy? It is. The Amendment simply states:
"The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

The problem is that the Court interprets the Constitution and its Amendments, and if Congress has the right to prohibit an expression of political speech (flag burning as an expression, not as disposal — see Section 4-k) then the Court could easily rule that Congress has the right to prohibit any expression of political speech. It's a slippery slope greased with Crisco, and it will be the Gay Marriage wedge of the 2006 election season — they can't have us talking about dead service members or Bush's Social Security agenda or unemployment. God forbid. We will need to be able to frame this discussion properly in order for it to resonate with Black folks and allow us to pivot to our main talking points. Here's how we do it:

Note that when the Republicans pimp the 1st Amendment that the Freedom of Religion will get jacked as well. They will be able to tell your pastor what he can and cannot say from the pulpit on Sunday morning. After making this point we can emphasize how the Black Church has always preached social justice — that Jesus teaches that we are to help those who are hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, that we cannot neglect the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. The Republican Amendment would silence the voices of our communities, and we must never allow them to do that to us. We will never be silent about (talking point #1). We will never be silent about (talking point #2). We will never be silent about (talking point #3).

See how this works? It's a Brave New World in which we are living, and our politics must match the times. Refine this framing in the comments below — localize it to where you live and let's put it to work. The Rude Pundit gives an excellent example of such framing for those who can stand crass conversation.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 1:00 AM

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it occurs to me that they could solve this problem much more tactfully by legislating that all flags be made from fireproof fabric.

the constitutional amendment aspect of it totally belies their intentions. you're so right.

Posted by Blogger John C @ Friday, June 24, 2005 2:57:00 PM #
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