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July 8th 1995

Burn Baby Burn

Some Independence Day improvements to the American Constitution

Forget the struggle to balance the budget. At the end of June the House of Representatives got down to the really serious stuff, and voted for a constitutional amendment allowing states to make it a crime to desecrate the flag. The vote ran so heavily in favour that the Senate is likely to agree.

This news will be welcome to all patriots. Yet it is only a start. the amendment does not say what "desecrating" means. If it means merely burning the flag and trampling on it, this is not good enough. When did you last see someone - at the supermarket, say, or at the office - rabidly rip up the flag and immolate it with a Zippo lighter? It is no fun passing an amendment unless (see Prohibition, and unreasonable searches and seizures) it stops people doing something they often and happily do. Besides, the prisons are not full enough.

A New Bill of Rites

Our constitutional lawyers therefore propose that desecration shall include:
- wearing boxer shorts, briefs, T-shirts, socks, caps or any other item adorned with the flag; the above being held to include any items incorporating red stripes, white stars, white stripes or indeed any combination of red, white and blue.
- concocting any comestible, such as cupcakes, gateaux and ice-cream sundaes, in the shape, form or coloration of the flag, and especially the cutting and eating thereof; also decorating with dinky little flags and canapes, salads, cocktails, place-settings or sandcastles.
- allowing your dog to desecrate a flag-pole, a flag being hoisted, except upon probably cause, that the flag in question is not American.
- rolling a person in the flag when he/she is on fire, except in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Further, we propose that:
- No person shall be excused from knowing the words of the National Anthem, nor from singing the fifth and sixth lines, even when the band has started too high, except if he be thereby put in jeopardy of life and limb.
- No person in singing the said Anthem, or in reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance, shall place his hand anywhere, but over his own heart; nor shall he scratch, sniff, cough, chew gum, or set his eyes anywhere but upon Old Glory, unless he believes himself about to be rendered insecure in his person, papers and effects.
- Upon the Fourth Day of July, all persons shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public barbecue, and the man who by sundown shall still be struggling with the Acme charcoal briquettes shall be confronted with the witnesses against him; and those witnesses shall have the right besides to all the popcorn they can eat, and shall have compulsory process for organising parades, from which gays and lesbians may be excluded.
- For all persons who shall be a senator or a representative in Congress, or who hold any elective office under the United States, unpatriotic acts shall be especially forbidden, but trivialisation of the Constitution mandatory.
- A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to blow away anyone whose patriotism may be suspect, shall not be infringed.

Special thanks to Tom Polakis for providing this information for the Flag-Burning Page.

Warren S. Apel