In just two weeks we celebrate Flag Day. The Fourth of July will come just slightly more that two weeks after that.

But, more importantly, this is an election year, so the season for politicians from the state house to congress will once again be standing up for the American flag even as they attempt to rein in the precious rights for which it stands.

Constitutional amendments to ban desecration of the Stars and Stripes will be offered again in the House, where similar measures have passed, and in the Senate, where they have failed in the past, but by decreasing margins.

This election cycle, the issue appears to have some heavy support in the Senate. The Senate Majority Leader, you see, is a frequently mentioned possibility for a run at the presidency.

On a political talk show Sunday, Senate Bill Frist, (R-Tenn.) viewed with alarm all the flag desecration going on in America, declaring that banning this ignoble and unpatriotic act would be among the Senate's urgent June agenda items.

“Flag desecration is important to the heart and soul of the American people," the Tennessee doctor asseverated.

But first of all, there has not been a publicized case of flag burning anywhere in the country in years. The only flags we have seen being burned have been transmitted by television our of such “evil empires” as Iran and Iraq. Amending the Constitution will do precious little to diminish those occurrences.

Flag-burning sort of died along with the hippie movement, and according to the Citizens Flag Alliance, haven’t shown any signs of rebounding. The Alliance reported just 12 flag burning in all of 2005, which makes the Senator’s statement downright ludicrous.

The act of burning our national symbol, repulsive as it is, has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court as an exercise of free speech protected by the First Amendment. The Founding Fathers understood the importance of allowing civil dissent in a democracy, and the much greater danger of suppressing it.

Right now, Cuba, China, and Iran are the only countries to ban flag desecration and the issue doesn't even show up on the polls as an important priority for the American public, so it may be that this year’s crop of candidates will have to find some other emotional issue for rankling the voters.

Well, there’s always gay marriage.

But, dang it all, it the polls have it ranked 9th among the issues the American people feel important, behind such issues as the war in Iraq, adequate health care, Social Security, immigration issues, terrorism, education, the environment, and other such piddly matters.

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