Quote: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” Proposed constitutional amendment.
Figure of Speech: gesture.
Someday, gestures like burning the flag, spitting on it — and, presumably, wearing it as a bikini on a flabby, bikini-desecrating body — could land you in prison.
Cicero, the great Roman orator, said that voice and gesture are the keys to delivering speech. The power of the gesture lies behind the proposed flag amendment, passed by two-thirds of the House of Representatives and due for a close vote in the Senate.
To desecrate means literally to “make unholy,” so the amendment would consecrate the flag, making it America’s first constitutionally sacred object. Will future activist judges require us to worship it? Still, we’re pleased that Congress has paused from its chief mission — taking dictation from lobbyists — to do its bit for freedom and liberty. As any parent knows, banning an obscene gesture gives it great rhetorical potency.
At last, America’s legions of flag-burning hobbyists have something to celebrate.
Snappy Answer: “And Congress shall retain the power to desecrate the Constitution.”