Letter to the CT Post Noveber 10, 1999

Frederick M. Picroski

The first Amendment to the United States Constitution has been the subject of many debates lately. Acts of flag burning and "art" depicting the Virgin Mary in elephant dung and the Crucifix in urine have disturbed many Americans to the point where they want to set limits on the first Amendment right.

While these concerned Americans' hearts are in the right place, this country's founders did not put fine print into the Constitution for a reason. Having won a war against a tyrannical government, America's founders knew that fine print would grow and spread like cancer, changing the Constitution from a document that stated our rights to a document that limited our rights. I believe that America's founders created the First Amendment so that the new government could never declare any idea illegal or suppress any facts or opinions. Additionally this right allows people to question the law, facts and others' opinions without fear of government sponsored retribution.

Thus I believe that flag burning is a protected right but equally protected is my right to say to a flag burner "America - love it or leave it". While artists have the right to display such works, I have the right to gather others who are like minded and let the "artist" know that their work is garbage.

I believe that our founders felt that the American people would be so appreciative for such a right as free speech that each individual would maintain a high moral standard when expressing an idea. This moral standard would be high enough that few would question such an open law, few would feel there to be a need to set a limit on free speech. Unfortunately this is not so. The respect that each citizen is supposed to have for others does not exist today. America's founders wanted every citizen to be able to express an opinion for or against the government, religion, etc. without fear of retribution. Instead some have chosen to use this law to openly flaunt disrespect for such institutions.

The Virgin Mary and the Crucifix deserve respect because many people, like myself, feel these items to be a sacred part of our religion. Whether you share my opinion or not, ask yourself, what's next for the dung heap or urine jar? The Star of David? Martin Luther King Jr.? The Koran? JFK? Elvis? Until we all learn to respect what the others hold sacred, we, as a people, will never come together as one.

©1999 Frederick M. Picroski