The story of the veteran who ripped down a Mexican flag because it was being flown above an American flag has been everywhere. Pat White brought it up on WOWO radio yesterday afternoon, and the consensus of the callers was: Maybe the veteran was wrong legally for messing with private property but, by God, he was a real American standing up for our country against the invading hordes.
Sorry. That's wrong. Whenever I write about illegal immigrants and say something like "What part of 'illegal' is unclear?" I can expect a comment something along the lines of, "Well there are laws and then there are LAWS. We should take laws against murdering your parents more seriously than laws against jaywalking." But the law is the law, the only thing that separates us from anarchy. If I'm willing to ignore the law against people coming to this country without following the rules, I'm willing to ignore people taking money from banks with guns (against the rules). If I'm willing to overlook someone ripping down a flag because he doesn't like the way it's displayed, I'm inviting him to come onto my property and exercise his vigilantism. Your flag is out at night without being illuminated. I will take it!
One of my favorite passages about the law is from "A Man for All Seasons," and it should be studied by all who would substitute their judgment for the collective wisdom of common law:
Roper: So now you'd give the devil the benefit of law?
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the devil?
Roper: I'd cut down every tree in England to do that.
More: Oh, and when the last law was down and the devil turned on you, where would you hide, Roper, all the laws being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - do you really think that you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the devil the benefit of the law, for my own safety's sake.
How to fly the American flag, by the way, is advisory, not a statute with criminal penalties.