In yet another case of a lawmaker wasting your time and money on spurious laws, an Arizona legislator is proposing a law to make theft of a US flag a felony act.
As if to address some rampant and dangerous crime wave like, say, our nation’s heroin epidemic or mass shootings, state senator John Kavanaugh has introduced a bill that makes stealing an American flag a class “6” felony. Witness your tax dollars at work.
State senator John Kavanaugh is fed up with the growing scourge of flag thefts in Arizona. Apparently, there are a lot of flags being stolen for nefarious reasons and Kavanagh wants to put a stop to it.
His bill puts stealing a flag in the same category as kidnapping an animal for the purpose of animal fighting, or stealing a gun.
There are a few catches however: for one, this law would only apply to flags flying on private property, not to flags on government buildings or for sale in stores.
That, and the fact that the US Supreme Court has declared desecration of the flag to be protected speech under the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights, and that law supersedes any state law.
Why has Kavanaugh decided to stand firm on this “heinous” crime? Well, he says “”It occurred to me that when you steal a flag that someone is displaying other than for sale, you’re not only stealing the object but you’re stealing the person’s expressive right. People display the flag for patriotism or even for protest, and you are stealing their First Amendment expression rights.”
That is certainly the kind of circular, reductive logic we have come to expect from our politicians. And it is a good thing that he plans to spend so much legislative time and money to get this thing passed so that Arizona can lock up all the hoodlums and make them the responsibility of the state for two years. Especially when the first person convicted will have the conviction, and the law, overturned on appeal.
One other state currently has a similar law on their books: Missouri. In that state, it is a class “c” felony that compares with the theft of items of more than five hundred dollars in value, cattle rustling, and stealing materials to be used in making bombs. That law has yet to be applied to a case, but when it is finally applied, you can bet that it will be struck down on appeal. Which makes one wonder exactly why a legislator would waste their time on something like this.
While most Americans do not think about desecrating our national flag, The Supreme Court ruled on this issue years ago. Federal law trumps local and state law, especially on issues concerning the Bill of Rights.
Is this just a way for a politician to get his name in the papers? How do you feel when you hear about a lawmaker wasting time on laws like this when there are so many actual problems that we face? Share your thoughts with us here.