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Joe Lieberman

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I have consistently opposed a flag-burning amendment, and voted against its passage. Flag desecration is hateful and worthy of condemnation, and I would support any statory means possible to curtail desecration of the flag. But I believe that the importance of the Bill of Rights -- our nations founding document -- requires us to establish a very high threshold for agreeing to change it. does the amendment address some extreme threat to our country, or redress some outrageous wrong? In this case, abhorrent though flag desecration may be, it simply does not meet that test.
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Associated Press policy Q&A, "Flag Amendment," Jan 25, 2004.

 
Joe Lieberman

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We are rightfully outraged when anyone attacks or desecrates our flag. Few Americans do such things and when they do they are subject to the rightful condemnation of their fellow citizens. They may be destroying a piece of cloth, but they do no damage to our system of freedom which tolerates such desecration.
If they are destroying a flag that belongs to someone else, that's a prosecutable crime. If it is a flag they own, I really don't want to amend the Constitution to prosecute someone for foolishly desecrating their own property. We should condemn them and pity them instead.
I understand how strongly so many of my fellow veterans and citizens feel about the flag and I understand the powerful sentiment in state legislatures for such an amendment. I feel the same sense of outrage. But I step back from amending the Constitution to relieve that outrage. The First Amendment exists to insure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous. I would not amend that great shield of democracy to hammer a few miscreants. The flag will be flying proudly long after they have slunk away.

 
Colin Powell
 

Our country is defined by the rights we protect, and those of us who fought for freedom and put our lives on the line defended the right of people to do things that we disagree with. I would not be pleased to see someone burning the flag because I love the flag, but the Constitution that I fought for preserves the right of free expression.

 
John Kerry
 

We stole countries with the cunning use of flags. Just sail around the world and stick a flag in. "I claim India for Britain!" They're going "You can't claim us, we live here! Five hundred million of us!" "Do you have a flag …? "What? We don't need a flag, this is our home, you bastards" "No flag, No Country, You can't have one! Those are the rules... that I just made up!...and I'm backing it up with this gun, that was lent to me from the National Rifle Association."

 
Eddie Izzard
 

I am amazed that Congressmen can pass a bill imposing severe penalties on anyone who burns the American flag, whereas they are responsible for burning that for which the flag stands: the United States as a territory, as a people, and as a biological manifestation. That is an example of our perennial confusion of symbols with realities.

 
Alan Watts
 

My primary concern is visual form. The visual meaning may be discovered afterwards – by those who look for it. Two meanings have been ascribed to these American Flag paintings of mine. One position is: 'He's painted a flag so you don’t have to think of it as a flag but only as a painting'. The other is: 'You are enabled by the way he has painted it to see it as a flag and not as a painting.' Actually both positions are implicit in the paintings, so you don't have to choose.

 
Jasper Johns
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