Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flying the Flag Upside Down, That's a Prosecution!

The Bad Lawyer is a US Army veteran, a child of the Eisenhower era, and a politically centrist guy.  I believe in obeying even laws I disagree with, not taking what's not mine, and reporting and paying taxes.  I fly and American flag, and I am very proud to be an American.  Without a doubt I believe in the ideals of our Constitution.  So this story from the Pittsburgh Trib website about the prosecution of a local man for flying a "flag upside down,"  has me wondering what the hell is going on.  Here's the article by reporter Bobby Kerlick:

"A Butler County district judge issued an arrest warrant Tuesday for a man who failed to show up for a hearing on a charge of flying an upside-down American flag. State police in November charged David M. Rice, 50, of Muddy Creek with committing insults to a national or commonwealth flag after a passing motorist called to report the flag was inverted.  Rice was scheduled for a preliminary hearing this morning before District Judge Clifford Woessner.

The little-used criminal charge is a misdemeanor that experts said exists in a gray area of law, and sparked a federal lawsuit in Eastern Pennsylvania in 2008. Rice said the flag display wasn't intended as a political statement or meant to offend anyone. He said it was windy when he put the flag up.  According to a police affidavit, Rice was irate, yelled profanities and stepped toward a state police officer who knocked on his door about the flag. The trooper pushed him back and arrested him."
First, you must show up for court.  Not showing up tends to piss off the Judge and will get you arrested.

Secondly, how is this criminal statue constitutional?  The last time I looked at the U.S. Constitution, rights were conferred on citizens, not objects or symbols.  The right of Free Speech is conferred on people not national flags.  Here, we have a guy who claims he was trying to exhibit his national pride by flying a flag, albeit, sloppily--what sort of appropriate criminal justice/state action  supports a shouting, shoving and summons? 

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