Friday, October 8, 2010

Focusing on symbols

A Lee County (MS) judge jailed Oxford (MS) attorney Danny Lampley when Mr. Lampley declined to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Nevermind that Mr. Lampley stood during the pledge and made no effort to draw attention to himself.

What's next in northern Mississippi, loyalty oaths?

As attorneys we have pledged to uphold the laws of the land and to defend the Constitutions of our states and our country. To jail anyone because they don't recite the Pledge of Allegiance is absurd.

I don't pledge my allegiance to a flag. In the courtroom I will fight tooth and nail for what few protections remain for the accused. A flag is merely a symbol. When we start to venerate symbols instead of what's behind the symbol, then we lose perspective. When we lose sight of what the flag stands for then it's that much easier to take away our protections against the mighty power of the state.

You can burn or otherwise destroy a symbol, but that doesn't affect what stands behind that symbol. Through our neglect and nonchalance, however, we can allow the Constitution to erode and become nothing more than words on paper.

Violations of the Fourth and Fifth and Sixth Amendments are not mere technicalities that allow criminals to go free - they are assaults on our civil liberties and should not be tolerated. If we just sit on our hands and do nothing then one day we will wake up and wonder where our freedoms went. Our reasonable expectation of privacy is vanishing rapidly because we have allowed the government to poke its head into our private business in the name of national security. Next up for los federales - back doors to encrypted data sent via cell phone or internet.

To all my brothers and sisters who fight for the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights no matter the odds and no matter how hard the fight, I thank you. What we do on a daily basis is so much more important than reciting a pledge.

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