Patriotism 1 A report released to coincide with America's celebration of freeing itself from British tyranny suggested the fallout from blue fireworks could cause cancer because it is toxic. The symbolism culled from that report is astounding and above all else, horribly pretentious and contrived. As we reflect on the 223rd anniversary of the first Independence Day -- a day that will be remembered for a carnivorous, gluttonous American stealing the Nathan's July Fourth hot dog-eating contest title away from a wiry Jap -- it becomes apparent that America is suffering the effects of fallout from a more insidious toxic agent: patriotism. For the third consecutive Congress, the House of Representatives voted to amend the Constitution to allow legislation that would ban desecration of the American flag. The 305-124 vote on June 24 was 19 above the two-thirds needed for a constitutional amendment. Before the final vote, the House rejected, by 310-115, a Democratic substitute that qualified the amendment by saying that any act to prohibit defilement of the flag must be "not inconsistent" with the First Amendment. The Senate has long resisted approving a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning but the votes have been close. Backers of this term's attempt to pass the amendment are one or two votes short of the 67 needed for approval. Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif., chief sponsor of the amendment, said its purpose is not to limit free speech but to give Congress the authority to write legislation banning the physical desecration of the flag. The court, Cunningham said during debate, ``wiped out 200 years of tradition'' by removing protections for the flag, which is ``important to the core, to the heart, to the mind and the soul'' of the country. The core, heart, mind and soul of this country being best exemplified by blatant hypocrisy, of course. Those who support a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning are the kinds who are quick to make comments (in private) such as: "Golly, why ain't there no white Miss America pageant? Why do those niggers need their own pageant? There ain't no reason to be proud to be black." Followed by: "Hey, this is America, and if you don't love it, you damn well better leave it!" Criticizing those who take pride in their heritage is defensible but not by politicians and 'Merkuns who implore -- and want to force -- people to take pride in the United States. There is no difference between wearing "I'm proud to be 100% Nubian" and "I'm proud to be a God-fearing, tobacco-chewing American" t-shirts. Pride is reserved for achievements and wrapping oneself in the American flag is no more worthy of chest-thumping pride than dressing like Erykah Badu and hanging a Farrakhan poster in one's room. Patriotism 2 There is no reason to take pride in being an American. It was pure chance, not divine intervention. We could have just as easily been born in Pakistan and spent much of 1998 shooting guns into the air in celebration of the country's nuclear weapons testing. But why would those dirty camel jockeys take pride in their country, a patriot might ask. Only Americans live in a nation worthy of pride! Viewers of CNN agree. CNN has a show called TalkBack Live, and one of the hot topics last year was the Californian girl who refused to rise from her chair at an ungodly hour, face the flag and pledge allegiance to the finest nation in the land. Dan, apparently the officially elected representative of Shady Acres trailer park in West Virginia, commented on a question posed by the cross-eyed Bobbie Battista about the girl's views: "I don't think so, because I think if you live in this country, then you should live by our rules. And if you don't, hey, there's other countries to live in around the world, I think." Those are the kind of people who are patriotic: the ones who aren't quite sure if there are other countries to live in around the world. What does it matter, anyway? USA is #1! What did Frank have to say about the girl's atrocious lack of respect for an inanimate object? "Oh, yes. This comment is for the little girl that don't want to pledge allegiance to the United States. OK, I'm a Vietnam vet and I'm a retired military. She should pledge allegiance to the United States because the freedom she share was at a great cost of military servicemen." Did I mention patriotism excuses horrible grammar? God and country come before the English language. What freedom was at stake during the Vietnam War? Was any American afraid that the gooks were going to invade the United States and force American women to squat and give birth in rice paddies? Or that we would be forced to speak a devil tongue? Just because you were too poor or stupid to get out of serving doesn't mean you should justify your tour by touting it as freedom fighting. Blame the government for continuing an un-winnable war and viewing you as fresh meat; don't hide behind the flag. You were expendable. The Persian Gulf War? I love cheap gas as much as the next SUV owner but defending an American's God-given right to inexpensive fuel is hardly protecting our freedom. It's protecting American consumerism, and if patriots want to die so I can afford to fill up a gas-guzzler, by all means line up for the slaughter. Just don't expect me to wave a flag and shed a tear for those amber waves of grain. I'll be too busy drinking Newcastle Brown Ale, washing my Toyota, cheering for Manchester United, watching some imported spic soap opera and wiping my ass with Old Glory. Patriotism 3 (And if Al Gore wins the next election, I'll be frantically trying to find a new country to call home.) That would have been a great way to end this article, but I'm not finished yet. Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe says, "What is irrational is the notion that because Americans are free, they may not guard their foremost symbol of freedom from mockery." Martha Maneggio of New York City says, "We have to protect the American flag. Men died for that flag! We shouldn't have the right to say and do whatever we want." The American flag is considered symbolic of freedom -- freedom of speech, freedom to think we shouldn't have the right to say whatever we want, freedom to mock symbols of freedom. To ban flag burning is a slap in the face to what the flag is alleged to represent. And if your father or grandfather died for a $5 flag made in Taiwan, they're fucking morons and deserved to die. Now I'm finished.