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Tipsheet

Flashback: That Time When Clinton Wanted To Jail People For Flag Burning

The media is going nuts over President-elect Donald Trump’s tweet over jailing people who burn the American flag. For liberals, it’s confirming their long-standing biases that Trump is a fascist (not true), while Never Trump Republicans see this as yet another example of the president-elect being utterly unprepared for office. Even I was taken aback, but given the reaction—I think the president-elect was just poking the bear. I mean, who wouldn’t to get a rise out of Whoopi Goldberg and The View. It’s easy pickings. For Clinton supporters, I’m sorry to say you don’t have the high ground again; then-Sen. Clinton co-sponsored the Flag Protection Act of 2005, which carried a 12-month jail sentence to anyone who desecrates the American flag “to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace.”

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Alex Griswold at Mediaite had more:

Clinton’s bill earned her a rare rebuke from the editorial page of The New York Times. “Senator Clinton In Pander Mode,” declared The Times, arguing that the logic behind the bill’s constitutionality was flimsy. “A black American who wakes up to see a cross burning on the front lawn has every right to feel personally, and physically, threatened. Flag-burning has no such history. It has, in fact, no history of being directed against any target but the government,” they noted.

Liberal Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen agreed, calling the bill “Star-Spangled Pandering” in “a cutesy way that does not explicitly outlaw all flag burnings — just those intended to ‘intimidate any person or group of persons.’ That’s a distinction without a difference to your average police officer.”

In essence, Clinton’s bill was the same thing. So, can we just move on from this? For the president-elect, he has to pick one of the most important positions in his administration: secretary of state. Also, there’s no chance that a law like this would be constitutional, let alone pass Congress. It’s a distraction, where both candidates tried to criminalize a constitutionally protected, though heinous, act of free speech. Let’s just call it a draw in which both sides were wrong.

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