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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (July 1, 1999)
Congress ’ attmepts to legislate morality infringe on First Amendment
CLIFF HICKS is a senior
English major and a Daily
Nebraskan copy editor.
Who needed that pesky little First
Amendment thing anyway?
All it’s ever done for us as a coun
try is give us a great big pain in die
neck, right? So, let’s ditch it. Let’s let
the majority rule and the minority be
trampled upon without remorse.
As of late, Congress has been
striving to bring “morals” back into
politics. Morals indeed, because, as
of yet, none of them have taken
stands on blackmail, deep pocket
politicking, smear campaigns, adul
tery, drug use or anything else vague
ly of political substance. This isn’t
about cleaning up Washington and
making sure that our politicians stand
for what we stand for. Ha!
No, folks, the big stands so far
have been on those two issues that
everyone has been screaming out
“Help us, Congress!” for so long.
That’s right: the Ten Commandments
and flag desecration.
It is now permissible for schools
to post the Ten Commandments, in
an attempt to curb school violence.
Oh, this is sharp. I mean, this is real
ly brilliant. Let’s see now, what was
on the walls of my schools growing
up? Hmmm ... no sir, I can’t recall.
But beyond the fact that it isn’t going
to do any good for anyone, it is going
to do some bad.
See, I understand where
Congress came up with the idea -
there’s a Commandment that reads
“Thou shalt not kill” - but let me
illuminate a couple of things to you.
There are nine other
Commandments, one of which reads
“Thou shalt have no other gods
before me.” Another talks about tak
ing the Lord’s name in vain.
Now, maybe I’m not the brightest
fish in the pond, but I do recall that
church and state are supposed to be
separate. You can’t force students to
say or hear the Lord’s Prayer before
school. The Supreme Court ruled
against that, and a lot of other things
School is a state funded institu
tion. You gotta go. So, whether you
like it or not, you’d have to see die
Ten Commandments if they were
posted. That’s where it crosses the
You can put them up at home, if
you like. Or in your car. A student
' could even attach a small poster of
them to his or her own desk. What
you can’t do, however, is let teachers
post them. We don’t allow teachers
to post everything they want to on
the walls, because that isn’t their
There are any number of other
things I can think of that could be
posted that people would object to.
Should we allow articles of Jewish
faith, Muslim faith, hell, even
Satanism faith to be posted? I sub
scribe to the all or none theory on
religion in schools - either you let
them all in, regardless of anything
else, or you close’em all out.
My ownphilosophy says keep
’em all out. Religion doesn’t belong
in school, because it’s not something
everyone can agree upon. This isn’t
to say that kids aren’t allowed to be
religious in schools, but you can’t
force it on them. You can’t put things
up where they have to see, hold
assemblies where they have to attend
(or be shunned by the rest of the
school) and you can’t force them to
spout religious rhetoric that they may
or may not agree with.
Congress says that our kids aren’t
getting enough morals instruction, so
they want the schools to take over.
This isn’t the place where morals
belong, folks. Morals are for the
home. Learning is for the schools. In
schools, we’re supposed to learn
information and theory, then make
our own judgments, with the aid and
assistance of our parents.
But, since today’s parents are just
too goddamn lazy, they want the
schools to do it for them. They fig
ure, “Hell, v/e’re the majority, so
we’ll decide what all the kids see and
make the teachers teach it.”
The idea of doing things your
way because you’re die majority isn’t
a new concept. Technically, it’s sup
posed to be a keystone to democracy.
Of course, so is personal free
dom. You’re supposed to have solid
rights that can’t be taken away, no
matter what the majority decides.
Otherwise, we could take away rights
from anyone we wanted to - short
people, incredible tall people, over
weight people - you name a group,
they could be cut out of something.
Ah, mob rule at its finest.
Gang mentality is also attempting
to push America into making flag
Now, think about this for a sec
ond. Laws are passed which make
flag desecration illegal, then the
Supreme Court smacks the laws
down as unconstitutional. So what
does Congress attempt to do? Pass a
To Congress I ask: don’t you peo
ple have anything real to do with
The Supreme Court decided that
flag burning falls under my constitu
tionally protected First Amendment
rights for freedom of speech.
And Congress wants me to “vol
untarily” give up these rights. They
want me to subscribe to a limiting of
my freedom of speech.
The hell with that.
If I want to protest the actions of
my country, I have the right to burn
the flag to express my anger. It’s
called symbolic speech.
If Congress passes this
Amendment, you can count on me
being out on die steps of a govern
ment building, Zippo lighter in one
hand, American flag in die other.
Congress claims it’s disrespectful
of me to do this, but rebellion and
dissent has always been disrespect
ful. That’s the nature of ij. You’re not
supposed to be civil when you’re
angry. When our government pisses
us off, we have the right to express
The other claim Congress makes
is that people died for our flag. I hate
to break it to them, but no one ever
died for an American flag. People
have died for freedom, or fighting for
America, but no one has ever died
over a physical flag.
A flag is a symbol. Just because
the symbol is destroyed doesn’t mean
any of die concepts behind it are.
If I bum a flag, I’m not slighting
any of the millions of veterans. I’m
protesting something. Destroying a
flag doesn’t erase all the achieve
ments of those soldiers, just like
burning a Nazi flag can’t erase all the
atrocities that Hitler committed.
Do you want Congress to take
away your freedom of speech? Do
you think that kids should have reli
gion force fed onto them instead of
education? Will Arlington Cemetery
The idea of doing things your way because
you re the majority isn’t a new concept
Technically; its supposed to be a keystone
to democracy. Of course, so is
cause an earthquake, sinking the east
coast into the Atlantic Ocean because
a few people bum a symbol?
The right to freedom of speech
comes with the price of hearing what
everyone else has to say, and that
Me, I think things were fine until
Congress started monkeying around,
and I’ll bum a flag to that.
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