Bob Ney’s Folly
Wrapped In the Flag Again


Sometimes it seems to me that members of Congress are more concerned with pandering to an ill-informed electorate than they are to defending the constitution to which they have sworn their duty. Take for example there is this story which, so far, I have only seen reported on Channel 9.

Congressman Bob Ney (that’s our congressman) claims that he is sponsoring a bill which would withhold federal grant money from any business that has rules against flying the flag. This legislation has more problems than I can shake a flagpole at, but I’ll try to be brief.

First, is this really a problem? I doubt that there are more than a handful of businesses nationwide that ban the display of the flag, but those who do certainly feel that they have legitimate reasons. Besides, of those in that small handful of businesses that bar the flag, not all are getting Federal money, so the number of those affected by the legislation is further diminished. Consequently, the legislation amounts to little more than pandering. It’s political posturing and therefore not real governing and therefore a waste of taxpayer money greater than the amount of the money that would be withheld in chastisement.

Secondly, What right has Bob Ney to impose his indignation on legitimate American businesses that are otherwise completely legally entitled to that money? These are tax paying syndicates who are not in violation of any law. Furthermore, even if the legislation is passed, they will still not be in violation of any laws. There is no law that says the flag must be flown by private businesses who receive Federal grants.

Thirdly, it is unfair to force conscientious senators to vote against manipulative patriotic legislation that obviously violates basic freedoms. This is not a new tactic of Ney’s. He also sponsored the Flag Desecration Amendment (HJ Res 79) a few years back which actually passed the House before being narrowly defeated in the Senate. Those who voted against the would-be constitution-amending legislation found that vote being used against them in the following election.

Fourthly, the constitution was not intended to be used as a mallet to be used by political hacks to bludgeon those with whom they have disagreements on issues of form. Flying the flag or not flying the flag is not what this country is about. It’s about freedom, and that includes the freedom to impose rules within the confines of one’s own business that an outsider might find objectionable. That is, provided those rules neither violate the law nor create a hostile work environment for one’s employees.

When Mr. Ney decided to run to become our representative, he should have done so with a much more clear understanding of what America is supposed to be. However, time and again, he demonstrates a W.A.S.P.ish male-centric bigotry when it comes to issues that relate to our civil liberties. Besides his two attempts to elevate that national banner to holy relic status, he supported the recent legislation which strips federal courts of their responsibility to enforce the Bill of Rights in criminal justice cases when he voted against the preservation of habeas corpus. He also voted for the failed English only legislation (HR 123) which would have struck Voting Rights Act provisions which prohibit states from discriminating against language minorities and require some jurisdictions with many limited English speaking voters to provide bilingual ballots, which would have affected many of our early American forebears from voting since none of us are truly native here. He also voted for HR 2546 which would give Federal money to individuals who choose not to send their children to public schools, despite the obvious fact that many of those who send their children to the worst public schools could never afford private schools even with the vouchers.

But I’m off track. The issue at hand is this ludicrous flag protection act. Admittedly, I don’t own a business, so I am not affected by the legislation. However, if I were, to demonstrate my defiance I suspect that I would insist on the immediate removal of all flags from my place of business. I would then replace all of these with banners displaying a representation of the U.S. Constitution.

I pledge allegiance to the ideals of the constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Articles of Confederation. Long may they wave.

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