Supreme Court

No Bombs Bursting In Air

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In R.A.V. v. ST. PAUL, 505 U.S. 377 (1992), the US Supreme Court found a law that prohibited burning a cross in a black family's yard to be unconstitutional. You see, it violated the cross burner's First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

In Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), the US Supreme Court found laws prohibiting burning the US flag were unconstitutional. You see, such laws violated the flag burner's First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

In 2002 the Washington State legislature passed a new law that gave counties, cities and towns a blank check to ban fireworks: RCW 70.77.395. The law begins with setting reasonable days and times for Washington State citizens to celebrate, with consumer fireworks, new beginnings on New Year's Eve, and to celebrate their liberty leading up to and on Independence Day. The day and time limits had been in effect for many years. The blank check for municipal tyranny had not. In recent years municipal entities have largely banned consumer fireworks outright, throughout the State.

In most localities, citizens may still huddle in their oppressed masses to view locally sanctioned fireworks displays, by the grace of their civil masters. With the Second Great Depression in full swing, this year's news has been full of accounts of public displays being cancelled due to budgetary cutbacks. It has often been argued there are safety and noise concerns that affect the public interest. A pet owner, whose dog barks every night, 365 days a year, will complain of the noise that results from fireworks 5 days a year. Motorists, whose bad driving habits result in 45,000 deaths a year, are quick to complain of safety issues, never failing to point out the "clear and present danger" of sparklers. And, of course, in readily apparent hypocrisy, it can hardly be said public fireworks displays are noise free, or free of accidents. Oddly enough, our US Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that being free, and being safe, are not one and the same thing. When liberty is at issue, our Court has ruled the danger of losing liberty must be guarded against, even when remaining a free people carries certain real or imagined risks.

It is not entirely difficult to understand why at times the noise of fireworks is something of a nuisance. The first year of the local ban, the absence of noise wasn't hard to take. This year, the lack of noise seems to shout of once free citizens, cowering in fear of storm troopers crashing in their doors, if they should have the audacity to celebrate their liberty, through freedom of expression, according to the long standing customs of our land and people.

A refrain from out National Anthem comes to mind: "The rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."

It has been quiet for many nights now. One must assume our flag is gone. The boots of tyrants are finally upon the throats of a once free people.