Is it 2007 or did someone get the flux capacitor in the Delorean working and I’m back in another time? Let me check. Well, my computer calendar says that it’s 2007, July 3 to be exact. Good. At least I know where I am. That said it sure does feel like we’re back in another time altogether, an era of intellectual pre-evolution? Maybe just 2005.

Last month, Rep. John Murtha, the Pittsburgh area Democrat known for his vocal support of an unconditional withdrawal from Iraq turned the other cheek on rationality and sponsored a bill that would ban desecration of the American flag. Murtha is certainly not the first or only congressman to support the unconstitutional attempt to restrict the inalienable right to freedom of speech nor will he be the last. He’s merely one in a chain of legislators from both parties who believe it is their duty and privilege to tell us what is acceptable speech or not.

Generally speaking, when he or she thinks of flag desecration the average American pictures some misanthrope who looks something like Chubaca setting it ablaze at a rally to support some unpopular leftist cause. In fact, defilement of the stars and stripes has become synonymous in the collective consciousness with fire engulfing America’s most sacred symbol.

But let’s hold that thought for a moment. Put on pause the internal video replay of the man with the Birkenstocks turning red, white and blue to ash and consider some other forms of vandalism that can happen to Old Glory.

Several years ago while I was up at Lake George during the Fourth of July weekend there were several women wearing American flag bikini swimsuits to celebrate the event. As nice as a woman in a bikini is to look at, could that not in itself be a form of desecration? After all we’re talking about intimate body parts and the sacred symbol of liberty and freedom making contact. Still, I’ve yet to hear the outcry from congressmen or flag-waving speedboat enthusiasts.

Here’s another case: How often do we as consumers open the newspaper only to be buried in an avalanche of glossy advertisements peddling televisions, menswear, lawn and garden equipment, intimates and sporting equipment? Next time you dig yourself out from underneath the catalogs and fliers that come from between the sports and business sections take stock of how much the likeness of the American flag is used to illustrate any number of sales events, from Memorial, Labor and Veterans days to the Fourth of July. It could be the Ides of March and you’re still likely to find it. Is that not a form of despoliation as well? After all, those of us dog owners use inserts to clean up after our pooches.

Take for example the irony that is lost on the owner of a car on whose tail bumper is an American flag sticker with the empty slogan “These Colors Don’t Run”. Unless he changes it often those colors do something worse than running. They fade into a mucky yellow and brown that is more evocative of an atomic flash burn than the sight that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words to our cherished anthem. Isn’t that a sacrilegious neglect of our flag?

Everyone knows tattoos can fade. They also stretch and distend too. Depending on how well a person keeps himself in shape his American flag could end up in rough shape on the body of a careless person. It could get pulled every which way by body fat or cellulite until it is a revolting monstrosity. Certainly that is a form of insulting our national symbol.

To convince someone of the fallacy of his position one need only to reduce its suppositions and foundations to absurdity. I propose that in order to demonstrate how ridiculous the idea of banning the flag desecration is, we appeal less to its obvious unconstitutionality and disregard for the principles for which the flag stand (which are strong) and instead to the simple fact that getting up in arms about desecration is about as rational as flying off of the handle over someone wiping sweat on a Coors Light t-shirt.

Plain and simple, the flag is an image. It may stand for lofty things, but let’s face the fact that it’s really just a piece of cloth or sticker, or plastic or ink. In itself it has no intrinsic value. It can be honored or dishonored and either way the world will keep turning. So, if one is not worthy to stand up for his Coors Light t-shirt than why should he stand up for another inanimate object? It’s a flag. In the end it really doesn’t mean anything but what we individually prescribe to it. For some it’s a symbol of freedom, to others a reminder of the Union and for another crowd it’s a living embodiment of a nation in which one is free to drive a huge truck and shoot animals. You may believe the flag stands for inalienable rights but to your neighbor it represents the power to stampede on your rights and the rights of others.

I personally challenge people to desecrate the flag in anyway the see fit. Certainly, it’s tacky, but let’s face it, so is the Bald Eagle tank top or those meaningless yellow magnet ribbons. Desecrate it in your own way, whether that means making it into clothing, a table cloth, dragging it from your car, putting it on a shopping bag or yes, burning it. I love America, but I love America not for the virtue that it exists, but for what it offers us in regards to our God-endowed faculties of reason, introspection and compassion. These are the virtues on which our republic was constructed and ones on which she will rise and fall, not a piece of cloth which merely serves as a reminder of what we could lose if we follow in the path of those who are bold enough to deny our rights of reason and self-expression.

Was it the columnist H.L. Mencken who said that a person would never know poverty by betting against the intellect of the average American? Well, regardless of who said it, one need look no further than the small city of Fairmont, Minnesota for an example of the collective idiocy sadly displayed here in America. It runs rampant particularly in those places known nostalgically as the “Heartland”.

I don’t want to upset the citizens of Fairmont. I suspect that they wont be bothered for two reasons: 1.) hardly anyone reads my blog 2.) I suspect based on listening to this story about the city’s reaction to the establishment of a U.S. Department of Peace, many in in Fairmont don’t bother reading at all.

National Public Radio did a fabulous job covering the fallout of the city council’s unanimous approval of a resolution supporting the creation of a Department of Peace. Nearly two dozen cities across the nation have done so, including Detroit, Newark and Chicago, so the small community in southern Minnesota was hardly breaking ground when, spurred on members of the Fairmont Peace Club, the city council passed a resolution supporting HR 808.

Two weeks after the resolution passed, the hue and cry of residents forced three out of five councilors to conciliate and rescind their votes on the non-binding and symbolic resolution supporting a bill that will likely never reach the floor of the House.

But why the furor over something that seems to be quite logical. After all, as Peace club member Judi Poulson pointed out to NPR, in a world of conflict, “peace is strategy, just like war…it takes a lot of hard work and skillful people that have been trained.”

 Turns out Fairmont residents such as Gene Hackett see it another way.

“I grew up under a time when my generation was involved with peace,” Hackett said to NPR. “The things that they stood for with that peace symbol were wrong. It was bad.”