Tuesday, 04 Jul 2017 10:57 AM
In 2006, Republican lawmaker Mike Rogers of Michigan drafted the "Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act" which prohibited protests at funerals at Arlington and 135 other federally-run cemeteries.
The legislation easily passed, but part of its statute made it unlawful to display "any placard, banner, flag or similar device," The Post reported.
Rogers' motivation? Protecting military families burying their dead from protests, something that happened in 2006 when members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church showed up at Arlington with signs like "Thank God for dead soldiers," the Post reported.
Ban those signs and symbols, you have to ban them all, lest the law violate the First Amendment.
"In the eyes of the law both an American flag and a Nazi flag express a clear message and thus are both worthy of First Amendment protections no matter how much we may disagree with one of them," ACLU lawyer Lee Rowland told the Post.
"It's an all-or-nothing proposition … even if the results in practice may feel unjust."
Exempt are the small flags placed in front of every headstone and burial marker on Memorial Day, The Post reported.
It hadn't occurred to me. We've all seen pictures, or TV shows or movies that have a scene at Arlington, and except for the little flags, and the larger flag that drapes the coffin during military funerals, we never see a large American flag anywhere, unless the film was shot prior to 2006.
I reluctantly have to agree with the ACLU. The law can't make any exceptions. If you make one, then you have to make two, then three, and so on. In order to keep nutcases from protesting in the cemetery, that's the price we have to pay.
As Rowland said, the Swastika is just as protected as the Stars and Stripes. We want to keep it that way, don't we?