Ron Paul
1999 Ron Paul Chapter 65

Opposing Flag Burning Amendment

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23 June 1999

Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Texas (Mr. PAUL).

(Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

1999 Ron Paul 65:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the gentleman from California earlier that said that those of us who oppose this amendment should not be challenged on our patriotism. That certainly should be true. But I do rise in support of the rule because obviously it is constitutional to amend the Constitution; that we cannot object to. But I do have questions about what we are doing to the spirit of America, the spirit of the Constitution in a desire to protect a symbol.

1999 Ron Paul 65:2
Not too long ago Hong Kong was taken over by Red China. The very first law that Red China passed on Hong Kong was to make it illegal to burn a flag. The first time Hong Kong ever had that law, the British do not have a law like this. Red China, as soon as they took over Hong Kong, they pass a law to make it illegal to burn a flag.

1999 Ron Paul 65:3
But it does not stop there. On an annual basis we, the Congress, require the State Department to report to us any human rights violations around the world. The human rights violations in Red China are used specifically to decide whether or not they will get Most Favored Nation status. Last year, in 1998, the report came to the Congress in April of this year, and it reported that indeed there were violations of human rights. What were the human rights violations that we are condemning by this report and we are going to use against the Red Chinese? Two individuals burned the Hong Kong or the Red Chinese flag.

1999 Ron Paul 65:4
I think it is just a little bit hypocritical if we want to claim the Red Chinese are violating human rights because somebody there burned the flag at the same time we intend to pass that law here.

1999 Ron Paul 65:5
The spirit of the Constitution did not require this. We have had 212 years of our history since the Constitution was passed. We have not had this pass. We have not required this. Where is the epidemic? I cannot remember ever seeing, and of course I am sure it has been on television where an American citizen burned the flag. It must happen; it will happen again. As a matter of fact, it will probably happen more often because there will be more attention given to it once this law is passed.

1999 Ron Paul 65:6
Where I see the burning of the American flag, where I get outraged is when the foreigners are doing it because they are so defiant about our policies around the world. But that is a lot different. We are not dealing with that hatred toward America that we are dealing with here.

1999 Ron Paul 65:7
We are dealing with a few deranged individuals that were willing to challenge the spirit of the Constitution. They say this is not free speech, but it is indeed expression, just as religion is, just as the study of philosophy is, just as our personal convictions. To say that this is not protected under the Constitution, the current Constitution, I think is quite wrong. I think we do protect that.

1999 Ron Paul 65:8
And, yes, one would say this is egregious, this is horrible, to burn this flag. But that is the purpose of the first amendment, to protect obnoxious and uncomfortable speech.

1999 Ron Paul 65:8 the first amendment probably should be capitalized: the First Amendment.

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