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Poll: Should flag burning be legal?

Yes 71 (76%)
No 22 (24%)
   Discussion: Should flag burning be legal?
Josh Woodward · 17 years, 6 months ago
..but it seems that the US Government, in its infinite wisdom, is considering making this illegal. Discuss.
Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Hmm, it depends, is it their flag, or someone else's? :)

Everyone has the right to destroy their own property, especially in an act of expression of political speech.
John J. Ryan Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Burning money is a federal offense. 
Josh Woodward Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
This one's a bit trickier because the government uses recycled paper and coin money as an indication of how much more to "print", and destroyed money throws off the system a bit. Then again, hopefully the amount of money destroyed is trivial compared to the amount "in the wild", so it probably doesn't have a noticable effect. Interesting point.
Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
And it's a fiat currency anyways. They print a huge sheet of $20s for the same price as a huge sheet of $5s, and then turn around and charge the Treasury dept face value for each bill. Nice racket.

The dollar is pretty shaky right now (it's one of the main reasons we went to war with Iraq). Too bad we can't have currency that actual has value or is gold/silver/platinum based.
A girl named Becca Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I don't understand what you mean by currency with actual value.  The only way for anything to have value is for people to want it, right?  Gold, silver, and platinum are only valuable because there's demand for them.  Money is valuable because there's a demand for it.  I don't see how one could change that by using a different currency or basing it on something else.
Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Gold, silver, and platinum are also finitie and "rare". You can't just create more gold. It's a commodity and there is only so much of it, which gives it its value. With paper "fiat" currency, they can always just print more of it and increase the amount of money in circulation. Carter did this in the 70s and caused huge inflation and devalued the dollar.

So, while you can have paper money, if it's not backed by something finite, rare, and valuable, then it's not based on anything real. With "real" money, you don't have a problem with inflation destroying the "value" of the money in your pocket.
Songbill Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Essentially, it's just a piece of cloth.

But clearly, the idea of the flag being a symbolic representation of "America" has led people to fight for its "protection" or to seek to destroy it by burning it. But this, of course, like burning books, burning Beatles LP's or burning the picture of your ex-lover won't change anything. Just as putting a flag decal on your car and singing 'God Bless America" won't change anything, either.

Real political change (what we REALLY need to be concerned with) is brought about by real actions.... like invading other countries, for example. Actions like this (and their consequences) are REAL, while burning or revering flags is an inconsequential symbolic act, not worthy of legislation or the time of our government.
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
The government can't make it illegal, it is unconstitutional, that's been pretty much settled. It isn't the goverment but some people that want to make a constitutional amendment to make it illegal. I'm not really worried, it's really hard to amend the constitution. The founding fathers were pretty clever about these things.
Andrea Krause · 17 years, 6 months ago

It should only be illegal if it's someone else's flag or the burning of the flag risks destroying other property. (Like, say, burning the flag in a trash can near a warehouse of oily rags. :) )

Basically, it should be treated the same as burning ANYTHING, not special rules because it's a flag. I can burn my own blankie. But if I burn Josh's blankie or burn my blankie close to Josh's house and risk hurting his stuff, I should get in trouble.

Gordondon son of Ethelred · 17 years, 6 months ago
The right to burn the flag is part and parcel of the right to free speech. It is the most protected type of speech, political expression. That is why all flag burning laws have been struck down and a constitutional amendment would be neccessary. It would be the first amendment to curtail the bill of rights, a frightening thought. There is no purpose to banning flag burning except to stifle a political idea.

An intersting note, Burning is one of hte approved ways of getting rid of an old worn flag.

Abbie Hoffman suggested washing the flag instead of burning. We want to symbolically cleanse the country, not destroy it. I wish that had caught on.
John J. Ryan Back · 17 years, 6 months ago

Gordon is right about burning a flag being the appropriate way to destroy a flag, as long as it is done the right way.  You take it to a VFW or similar organization, and they'll do it for you.  They perform a special ceremony and burn it there, in a respectful way.  It's very handy when you have a very worn out flag.

You are supposed to treat the US flag with respect, like not letting it touch or drag on the ground, not having another flag raised higher than it, or letting it continue to fly unlit after dusk.  But that shouldn't mean one should get arrested for doing such things.

Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I find that most people are generally pretty ignorant of the customs and ettiquite dealing with flying the US flag.
jaye Back · 17 years, 6 months ago

maybe it was because i was raised in a scouting family - most people seemed to know the guidelines.
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I often get amused and point out how people in their patriotic war fervor are incorrectly displaying the flag. I see warn and tattered flags and unlit flags flying all the time.
zil · 17 years, 6 months ago
I feel that if its your bra, your final thesis in a class, some fire wood... things that remind you of your jackass ex... or even a flag. if it belongs to you I think you should have the right to destroy it in any fashion you like. so long as it doesn't directly physicaly harm another... I just feel like there are so many other things the government would be better to spend their time on.
Josh Woodward · 17 years, 6 months ago
I'm seeing a good number of votes from the "no" camp, but nobody has voiced why they believe that our first amendment should be limited. Anyone?
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I'm guessing that people are afraid of the reaction if they voice their opinion, which is quite ironic considering the topic of discussion.

I take it that they might take exception to the characterization of their beliefs as limiting the first amendment. I used the phrase myself but I would guess it is not how they are thinking about it.
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Really off topic but this reminds me of the HS debates about the 1972 Elections. I was on the McGovern team. We couldn't find anyone who wanted to be on the Nixon team so my friends who were actually working for the McGovern campaign took Nixon's part.
Andrea Krause Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Dude. Yer old. :) *hides*
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I knew somebody would say that. One more person out of my will :-)
jaye Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
woohoo! more for me!
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I'll put you down for all my other Tolkien Books. Renita and Megan split the Cabell.
Andrea Krause Back · 17 years, 6 months ago

The closest I will come to the other side is to say that, while I don't think it should be illegal, I do find it to be a rather annoying form of protest. It appears to be excessively inflammatory, no pun intended. (no, really.) The "extreme" measure is taken to get people's attention...but the people who would not have given their attention before that point are those that will be angry at the step, rather than suddenly receptive.

It's like a kid yelling "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!" and not being heard and deciding to hit their younger sibling to get the parent's attention to be heard. The parent is going to then react to the hitting and their anger at that and be completely unreceptive to what the kid was trying to say originally with the "mom! mom! mom!". 

Probably a stupid analogy.

stealthlori Back · 17 years, 6 months ago

No, I think it's a pretty good analogy.  While I voted yes in the poll, I think flag-burning is an extreme and provocative measure that is not going to garner any sympathy for one's cause.  It's an assault on people's feelings -- even if they disagree with what the country's pols are doing, they usually don't take their feeling to the level of "I want to attack my country in response to its bad behaviour".  And flag-burning is, symbolically, an attack on all a nation stands for and all who feel loyalty to it. 

Activists need to assess whether they want to get attention -- through antagonistic acts like flag-burning -- or persuade people that what they're organizing over is more desirable and enlightened than the "establishment" position.  Gratuitously pissing people off by disrespecting the symbols they treasure rarely persuades them that you -- or your cause -- are enlightened.

Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I agree, it's stupid and counterproductive. I'd never be involved with it. Of course I can say the same thing about Bush's tax cuts.
Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
So what about limiting government spending hmm?
Arbie Back · 17 years, 6 months ago

Exactly. It is annoying and (usually) counterproductive. The flag is a symbol of the country. So are the letters U,S,A. So is the presidential seal. So is a map, and many other things to many other people. The question is, does that make the object that generates these emotions so important as to require constitutional protection. Would the Bald Eagle be less worth preserving if it weren't the national bird. The flag is a convienient symbol for a whole lot of stuff but when it comes down to it people did not die for the flag, they died for the ideology. I think it is unfortunate that many people can't disassociate the two

Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I once was a baseball game and it was extremely hot and sunny. As I'm sensitive to the sun and I'm follicly challenged I put my hat back on during the national anthem. Someone said commented that people died for that flag. I said, no, people died for the country it represents including the rights it guarentees. My father was a decorated war hero and was 100% behind me.
sheryls Back · 17 years, 6 months ago

heh. my  "no" vote was because i thought it said "should flag burning be *il*legal.

that'll teach me to take polls before noon. grr.

Erica: movin' to Ohio!! · 17 years, 6 months ago
this reminds me SOO much of the "die-ins" on campus last year. a guy was dressed like uncle sam (actually he was a friend of mine) and he walked in and around a crowd of students who had volunteered to "die". he held a fake gun, shouted a fact about the war in iraq before each person, then "shot them". they fell to the ground and were "dead" for about twenty/thirty minutes. i sat and laughed my ass off..quietly, of course. this was a very SERIOUS occasion. my ex was now dead. i had to mourn his body.....*stifles laugh* after the masses were struck down with "symbolic (and invisible) bullets" a faux cheerleading squad came out and performed a garbled version of "down by the riverside" then chanted some unintelligible mush. although i did find the anti bush ukelele song kinda funny. "no to war in iraq no to war in iraq 'cause war in iraq would be totally wack." the whole thing was just....silly. no real points were made. the thing that tickled me most was that most of these people "dying" had to lay face down in their nice hippie "we hate war outfits" on the area of the mall that's always littered with tons of broken glass. yep, we are the world, we are the future. we are sporting news shards of beer bottles in our eyeballs.........
jen · 17 years, 6 months ago

Burning a flag is an example of free speech and last time i checked, freedom of speech was not only legal but a fundamental human right.  If the government starts regulating things like this,  there would be no end in sight.


nate... Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Yeah, well, since when does this country respect fundamental human rights?

Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Or any country for that matter. We may have our problems in this country, but we are still the most free country on the planet. We are a far cry from where we used to be and where we should be, but I'd still rather live in the US than any other country.
Bel kjfdxcvuyjh8 Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Canada's pretty good too.:)
stealthlori Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Canada's better, especially lately, as far as civil liberties and quality of life are concerned.    Odd how in the US the party that claims to advocate "small nonintrusive government" only worries about rights for corporations, not people.  When it comes to individual rights it would not only clamp down on or revoke them,  but would design new laws to to restrict rights not enhance them.   Hence the above discussion.
Arbie Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Does depend on how you define "free" or "freedom" doesn't it. There is a degree or two more intrusion of government into my life here in Canada (and in most countries I guess) than in the States. Still too much for some people in Montana and such. I have some thoughts on those people but that is off-topic here so I'll hold off (starting a new trend for myself I know)   :-)
Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
The Republican Party is the same as the Democratic party, the only difference is the Republicans want to use the force of government to prevent you from being bad, and the Democrats want to use the force of government to make you good.
Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Except for the gun control, socialized medicine, "free" education, and tax rates. Then again, we have those things here in the States too to a lesser extent.
Bruce Rose · 17 years, 6 months ago

This has always been a confusing issue for me.  As a military brat, I grew up with a "love it or leave it" mindset.  Even today, I have bits of that mentality left.  But I realize that flag burning does have one admirable feature: It rallies attention to your cause.  Granted, half (artificial statistic) of the country is now against you for burning the flag, but at least you're inspiring discussion.

While I don't support flag burning, I don't think it should be illegal.  The only thing that should be (and, I think, is) illegal is burning someone else's flag.  But if the flag's yours, I'd prefer to see you treat it with respect... but it's yours, and I have no reason to stop you from performing whatever action you see fit to perform.

I think that the more appropriate action is to display the flag upside down, which is a signal for distress and a call for help.  America does need help.  To me, burning signifies loss of hope.  If Americans lose hope, burning the flag is appropriate, because the country and all it stands for will be dead.

Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I like the upside down flag too but it can only be used when it is clear that you are protesting. It is a distress signal so it is akin to sending out an SOS.
George E. Nowik · 17 years, 6 months ago

sorry, i have something against flat out disrespect of any kind.  flag burning for the purpose of protest is disrespectful, no matter what country it is.  there are better ways to vent frustration.

making it illegal isn't going to solve anything.  nobody remember prohibition, but we all hear about it.  making something illegal just makes people want to do it more.

but i digress.  it's a disrespectful method of protesting.  period.

if i remember correctly, burning a flag for the purpose of disposal is, i think, the only way one is supposed to do so.  correct me if i'm wrong, but i don't think that's the issue at hand.

 -= george =-

no one Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
There are quite a few things that deserve disrespect. Well meaning lunatics have gathered many times under flags symbolizing their cause to save civilization from some perceived, potentially fatal threat throughout history. Crusaders, Inquisitionists, Nazis, fundamentalists of various persuasions come readily to mind. Would you refrain from burning a swastika because it betrays a lack of respect?
Starfox Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
Disrespect of any kind? So you would be against disrespecting Al Qaeda or the Nazis, or the Sudanese government (who are systematically killing thousands soley because they are Christians). So the Bosnians who were suffering under Serbians and Milosovec(sp?) are wrong if they burned their flag in protest?

Sorry, but evil and immorality of that scale deserve not only disrespect but open contempt.
George E. Nowik Back · 17 years, 6 months ago

so riddle me this.  when does it stop?  we burn their flag, they kill more people, we kill their people, they burn our flag.. it never ends.  burning a flag, no matter who it belongs to, is disrespectful, and all it typically does is lead to more conflict.  i don't see the point.  there are better ways of dealing with a problem than what is effectively stabbing at the heart of a culture.

 -= george =-

Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 17 years, 6 months ago
I believe burial is also an option. That made sense to me, it is the same things you do to a person's body.

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