Given its history of being tied to slavery and the fact that it’s presently tied to racism, California has decided to ban government buildings from having pretty much anything to do with the Confederate flag.
California lawmakers hauled down the Confederate flag this week — figuratively speaking — as both houses of the state legislature gave final approval to a bill banning the state government from displaying or selling items featuring the Civil War emblem.
The bill, AB 2444, passed the last legislative hurdle on Thursday when the California State Assembly voted yes 66-1, with only former gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) voting no, the Los Angeles Times reported. The measure would still permit the flag’s use in school textbooks, public museums and other educational settings.
Donnelly’s stated reason for dissent was in defense of free speech:
When the assembly first voted on the bill in May, Donnelly had argued that the measure would violate the right to free speech.
“I abhor racism,” Donnelly wrote on his Facebook page, “but this bill is antithetical to the first amendment, which was designed to protect controversial forms of speech.”
And if the bill prohibited private citizens from flying the flag, I’d agree with him. Were that the case, what’s to keep the government from saying I can’t have an atheist bumper sticker? But that’s not what’s happening here. The bill applies only to the government, which does not have freedom of speech (for instance, they supposedly can’t endorse one religion over another). I like the decision and, frankly, I’m shocked any government buildings in California were flying the flag to begin with.
I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a Tea Party reaction. Although, I think even the Tea Party may realize that California is a lost cause for them and so they might not kick up too much dirt over it.