As the United States House of Representatives prepares to vote on a proposed Constitutional amendment prohibiting the desecration of the American flag, the Society of Professional Journalists continues to oppose the amendment.
"We do not support flag burning, but we do support the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," said G. Kelly Hawes, president of the Society. "While our flag is an important symbol of our country, a symbol is only as meaningful as the principles it represents."
"For Congress to consider Constitutional amendment limiting an individual's freedom of speech only erodes those principles. Where does it stop? The First Amendment has served us well for more than 200 years. I see no compelling reason to modify it now."
Members of the Society felt so strongly about the issue that at their recent National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., the Society's board of directors passed the following resolution urging Congress not to pass such an amendment:
Whereas the U.S. flag has been embraced as a symbol of the freedoms enjoyed by all Americans, and
Whereas freedom of speech is an essential right guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and
Flag Desecration Amendment/November 29, 1995
Whereas it is the responsibility of the Congress of the United States and state legislatures to protect and defend the rights of all Americans to exercise their rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States,
Therefore be it resolved that the directors of the Society of Professional Journalists, acting on behalf of its more than 14,000 student and professional members nationwide, hereby urge the Congress of the United States and state legislators to reject without exception any resolution, bill or other law or act that would punish individuals for desecrating the American flag, the welfare of the public requiring it.