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JUNE 17, 1998
12:02  PM
CONTACT:  People for the American Way
Nancy Coleman, David Elliot   202/467-4999
Don't Send Freedom Up In Smoke
PFAW Urges "No" Vote on Flag Amendment
WASHINGTON - June 17 - In what has become almost an annual event, a controversial measure to curtail Americans' right to free speech all in the name of liberty is moving toward a critical Senate vote. The Flag Desecration Amendment, which already passed the House, must win the support of two-thirds of the Senate before it goes on to the states. It would amend the Constitution to prohibit burning or other desecration of the flag.

"Americans love our flag, but this proposed amendment is an example of loving it to death," said Carole Shields, President of People For the American Way. "We do not protect and honor our most powerful symbol of freedom if we diminish the freedom that gives it meaning."

"The flag amendment would do more harm to our freedom than protesters could ever do with their matches," Shields said. "As abhorrent as it would be to see our nation's cherished flag burned  it would be far, far worse to send our freedom up in smoke."

The flag amendment would, for the first time in our history, change the Constitution to restrict freedoms guaranteed under the First Amendment. The issue has united liberal and conservative groups in opposition to the amendment.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism, and Property Rights is expected to approve the amendment today. However, People For the American Way expressed confidence that the Senators will, in the end, uphold freedom by turning down the amendment.

"The issue boils down to one basic question will the Senate vote to take away some of the American people's freedom," said Shields. "I don't believe that any Senator who has thought this issue through will choose to be the deciding vote against freedom."


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