Thursday, December 01, 2016

Hands Off Our Rights, Mr. Trump

Still weeks away from our presidency, Donald Trump is acting more and more like the type of  establishment politician he continually criticized during his campaign. Trump is waffling all over the place.

Sometimes it's all to the good. Regarding LGBT rights to marry, an idea vigorously opposed by hard-core Trump supporters, The Donald recently said he had no problem with such unions because the matter was settled by two Supreme Court decisions.

Soon thereafter, Trump said that anyone burning an American flag should be treated as a criminal and face consequences--perhaps a year in jail or loss of citizenship. The Supreme Court twice has ruled that burning the flag as a protest, which Trump was referring to, is protected as a free speech right by our constitution. The court also has ruled that revoking citizenship is prohibited as a punishment for wrongdoing.
 
Making this a crime will make me a criminal
Trump obviously was pandering to his "alt-Right" followers, who consider themselves to be the ultimate patriots. This group was irate when he reversed his position on pursuing an investigation of Hillary Clinton ("crooked Hillary," he called her without a shred of evidence of wrongdoing). Trump now says he won't do anything to hurt the Clintons, because they are "good people."

I consider myself a patriot, but not the "my country, right or wrong" type that supports Trump and condones violence or discrimination for questionable reasons. I have generally good feelings about my country, although it is not perfect. My parents weren't  poor, but certainly were not members of a privileged class. The U.S. proved to be a place where I was free to choose my own path and work my way up to achieve a much better lifestyle for myself and my family than my parents had. I'm grateful for that.

We lived for a dozen years in a planned community where homeowner association rules precluded flying a flag, to my disappointment. When we moved to our present home nine years ago, a flagpole came with the property. I've flown Old Glory every day since we arrived.

I have no respect for a protester who thinks burning an American flag furthers whatever cause is at issue. However, I fully support their free expression right to do so.

Dave Stalling, an associate of mine in the U.S. Forest Service, expressed my feelings very well in a recent Facebook post. Dave served proudly as a Marine sergeant in a Force Recon unit, among the best of the best of our military personnel. He said: "Personally, I don't understand why anyone would want to express their freedom by burning a symbol of that freedom. However, although I may not agree with it, I have (and would again) defend with my life people's rights to do so. I have never considered burning an American flag, but if Trump makes it a punishable offense, I will burn one out of defiance and--to paraphrase Trump himself--I would not hesitate to use my Second Amendment rights to defend my First Amendment rights."

I'm not big on joining protests, but I'll go at least part of the way with Stalling on this one. If Trump succeeds in making flag burning a criminal offense, I will haul mine down, burn it, and invite the sheriff to drop by, observe my crime,  and arrest me. Spending some time in jail to defend freedom of speech is something I definitely would do.

I'm not so sure about the armed protest part of Stalling's declaration. I did qualify as a sharpshooter with a rifle in the U.S. Army, but that was long ago. I would be pretty rusty now and, even with expert coaching by Stalling, as likely to shoot myself in the foot as to seriously threaten anyone. 

8 comments:

David Stalling said...

Well said, Dick.

PiedType said...

Yep, I don't like it at all, but people have the right to burn the flag if they want to. Beats me why they'd want to burn the flag when it's the symbol of the nation that protects their right to do exactly that. Or why they'd burn the flag when they're angry at individuals instead of the nation as a whole. If you ask me, it just demonstrates how shallow, unthinking, and undereducated they are.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

I have to laugh. The flag-burning thing was also settled by the Supreme Court. Also, Trump uses these tweets as diversions from other things and Democrats need to stop being suckered.

Trum the non-pol pol is about to have his ass whupped by the Washington bureaucracy. Many a better man has lost (JFK for one who said fighting the buracracy is like fighting a feather bed).

The only appointees who my have a chance are Chao at Transportation and 'Mad Dog' Mathis at the Pentagon. You can forget the Wall Steet businessmen. Bureaucrats don't follow orders, and if the do, everything gets screwed up, as Bush and Obama learned.

Tom Sightings said...

I'm with you and Dave Stalling ... right up to the point when anyone pulls out a gun. I'm not a strict interpreter of the 2nd amendment, meaning I don't think licensing and regulating infringes on anyone's gun rights.

Dick Klade said...

I'm with you on the gun control question, Tom. And a Supreme Court decision backs up our position. Gun ownership should be "well regulated."

joared said...

Flag burning never made sense to me as a way to make a point -- only served to attract attention which is exactly what DT does with all his shenanigans. Wish rest of Americans would wise-up and recognize how he's manipulating them.

JHawk said...

Good thoughts. Brought up in a military family (but in the raging 60s), and a vet myself, I think people have the right to burn the flag however, on a personal note, I also confess to thinking the pledge of allegiance is just plain silly. If we must have a pledge (must we?) I say let's pledge to the Constitution, or something.

As for Trump the problem is we just don't know at this point which of his outbursts are for real, and which just playing to his base. I think this is the latter, but regardless, one of his greatest failings is to think that this kind of rabble-rousing by a Pres-to-be is harmless and inconsequential. He is 74 but his social development seems to have stopped somewhere short of adulthood.

Kay said...

I'm still in shock and numb about everything. One blogger has started calling him "He who shall not be named" like Harry Potter. I liked that because hearing his name is going to give me ulcers.