Monday, December 19, 2016

First annual Phouls in Phoenix award goes to State Senator John Kavanagh

The Phouls in Phoenix are phiddling while Arizona’s phires burn. “Phouls in Phoenix” is a label I coined some time ago to refer to foolish ghouls (or ghoulish fools) feasting on the common good. Here is an example headlined by the Daily Star this morning: Arizona bill would make theft of American flag a mandatory felony.

PHOENIX — Saying the American flag is a special symbol, a Republican lawmaker wants to make it a felony to steal one that is on display.

The proposal by Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, would carve an exception into existing law that generally determines the severity of a theft by the value of what is taken. That law says it’s a misdemeanor to steal anything worth less than $1,000, punishable by six months in the county jail and a $2,500 fine.

Kavanagh’s proposal, SB 1009, would boost the penalty to a year in state prison, regardless of the value of the flag. And felonies allow a judge to impose a fine of up to $150,000.

Kavanagh said the enhanced penalty is justified.

“You are not only stealing the flag, which is a venerable object to begin with,” he said.

“You are also stealing the expression of the person who is displaying the flag, perhaps in mourning for someone who is deceased, perhaps as an act of patriotism, perhaps as an act of protest,” Kavanagh explained.

“It is the First Amendment right of the person displaying it.”

But Kavanagh’s measure does not extend that same special protection to someone’s right of expression to other flags or banners. So it would remain a misdemeanor to steal a state flag, the flag of the University of Arizona or someone’s rainbow flag displayed to support gay rights.

“You have to draw the line somewhere,” he said. …

Scriber thinks Kavanagh stepped over another line - that one being the distinction between meaningful, problem-solving legislation and the Tom-phoolery that goes on in Phoenix every year.

For that reason Scriber awards Kavanagh the phirst Phouls in Phoenix award.

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