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Flag Burning. Free Speech or Abomination?

Here's your picture worth a thousand words. What do you think?


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milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
While I'll agree it is freedom of speech I personally find it offensive. I grew up in the American Legion and as a grandaughter of a veteran on WWII. My grandfather and the people I grew up around wouldn't even let a flag stay hung up out in the rain let alone burn one. But it is free speech and if someone feels they need to do it to speak they're mind than fine. I also have every right not to associate with people who would.
smoochiez smoochiez 9 years
when i see that i cant help but actually wait for the UN to become more rich and powerful so that the spotlight on America dims down. so much negativity for everything America does, but when another country steps up and takes a bigger role in the world then thats when we would see less of THIS.
foxie foxie 9 years
You know as well as I do that people who burn flags aren't saying "Wow!!! I love America so much! I'll celebrate by burning a symbol of America!" People who love America and want to celebrate living in America do it *respectfully.* Burning the flag is nothing but a slap in the face to soldiers and veterans. They gave you freedom and you can't think of anything better to do with it than burn the flag that they have fought for? So yeah, it's a total load.
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
Yes, the flag is a symbol of the nation, but the government at any given time is the physical embodiment of our country. They are the face of this nation to the rest of the world, and they are the ones who make the decisions that decide what direction the nation is headed. The war in Iraq is not being fought by the Bush government, it's being fought by our country as a whole, whether we agree with the war in and of itself or not. The Bush government was elected by the people of this nation, and they represent what the current majority of the people apparently want. While I would not choose to burn the flag, staging a protest by burning pictures of George Bush (or other administration people) or other symbols of the Bush administration specifically, in my opinion, misses the mark. This holds true for many other policies as well - I pick on the war because it's the easiest. Any number of our current policies will continue into the next administration until or unless that administration decides to change them, making them policies of the nation as a whole and not just the specific government. I think that is why a lot of people do choose to burn the flag - because it *is* a symbol of our country and they are protesting what our country is doing in all of our names. I don't agree with their choice to do so and I don't like seeing it happen, but I can understand the logic behind it and am glad they have the freedom to do so if that's what they feel is needed.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
What part of it is "a load"? I may not always agree with the message of people who burn the flag, but I'm still glad they have the right. The way I see it, any excercise of our constitutional rights is a celebration of those rights. Calling somebody else's opinions "a load" isn't a respectful way for you to celebrate your freedom of speech, but I still support your right to do it.
foxie foxie 9 years
Michelin, That's a load and I'm sure you know it. That's not a respectful way to celebrate anything, let's not make excuses like it is.
Michelann Michelann 9 years
I think a lot of you have confused the issue here. "What if we burned a flag not in protest but in celebration of the very freedoms that allow us to burn a flag?" -Penn Jillette Burning a flag doesn't necesarily mean you hate your country. The flag certainly is a symbol of this country, but it is also a symbol of the liberties that have made this country great. Burning a flag (for whatever reason) can be seen as a celebration of those liberties.
zeze zeze 9 years
I think the flag is a symbol of the nation, not the government, their current policies, or their wrongs. Burning the flag (by Americans) is a symbol of hate for the nation, not for the current president and his policies. As Americans we should criticize and try to change the wrong to better the country, burning the flag does not do that. For example, I am not opposed to someone burning an image of a policy or a politician, but burning something that represents the nation in past present and future is not really free speech to me, its hate. But, because not everyone sees it this way, I guess those people can hide behind the protection of free speech, even though the flag represents that right they are burning. I can understand foreigners doing it as a sign of protest against government policies because when you are on the outside protesting another countries policies, a country you feel has wronged you, you don't stop to think of protesting politics by politician or policy by policy - outsiders see the final picture, but those of us on the inside know there is good and bad and we should know better than to stand against it all by burning the symbol that represents it all.
stephley stephley 9 years
When I was younger, I'd make the protest, now, I think maybe I should start looking around.
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
Someone earlier asked what the difference is between burning the flag or desecrating other symbols such as the Washington Monument. The difference is that there's only one Washington Monument and only one Mount Rushmore and so on. There are as many flags as people can make. Desecrating a unique monument - for example, the flag in the Smithsonian that was the one Frances Scott Key saw and which inspired him to write the anthem would be much, much different than burning a flag you picked up at the local Wal-Mart, because the flag in the Smithsonian is irreplaceable. One of the great things about America is that the government is supposed to be "By the people" and "For the people" - founded on the principle of the majority ruling and the idea that if enough people can persuade enough other people that the current majority is wrong, they can form a new majority and vote in a government that will promote their ideas and reflect their will until such time as another new majority is formed and vote their new representatives in. Telling people who are so angry with the government that they find it necessary to make a statement such as burning a flag is an incredible violation of that concept. It denies the current minority one potential tool (albeit of questionable effectiveness) to express themselves. There are so many other methods of expression (see my list above, for examples) that people find offensive, that if we start outlawing them all, the US will cease to be a democracy, since there won't be any room for dissent. Think for a moment if you STRONGLY disagreed with the government - if they were passing laws you found abhorrent or felt the way the government was representing our nation in other countries, and you felt the only way to get your point across was to do something that others might be offended by, because you knew it would likely get coverage in the news and stir up interest in your cause. Would you feel that rather than making that protest and trying to convince others that they should take up your cause that you should just pack up and find a new country to make your home?
stephley stephley 9 years
That's it Mariner, this seems an odd topic considering there don't seem to be any recent reports of U.S. flags being burned at protests (I did find a story about a flag of Scotland being burned) - like maybe we should debate streaking or bra burning next.
buffyanne buffyanne 9 years
I completely agree, menthadict. People so disenchanted with their government (any government) that they would burn the national symbols should find another country where they can live a life with less anger and resentment.
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
I haven't heard of a lot, lately, but given that we've just passed the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war and have now lost over 4,000 soldiers to it, it's likely that there will be an increase in anti-war protests (at least in the short term) and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see at least some isolated flag-burning happening at one or more of them.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 9 years
I may be out of the loop, but is there a lot of flag burning going on in this country that I haven't heard about?
outtajo outtajo 9 years
Honestly, I've never understood why everyone gets all hot about this. People have the right to protest and the diverse opinions of our citizen is what helps shape, change, and progress our country over time. If someone were, say, burning down the White House, I wouldn't support that as an expression of free speech (obviously). That's dangerous and vandalism. But a flag is a symbol, nothing more. People have the right to not be harmed or libeled against. But there's nothing in the Constitution protecting citizens from being offended. I'm offended every day by our current administration's words, but they have the right to say them.
sashak sashak 9 years
Ditto thorswitch
thorswitch thorswitch 9 years
Hypnoticmix, Matdredalia,& Robinesque, great posts! I find a number of things - including burning - that people do to our flag offensive. For example, wearing flag lapel pins while trying to take away or otherwise curtail our rights - including the rights to the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom of assembly and the right, as established by the Supreme Court, to privacy - is offensive. I also find it offensive when people wave the flag and use it to rally support for an ill-conceived and ill-planned war against the wrong target and fought for all the wrong reasons, killing the Gods know HOW many civilians in the process along with thousands of our most honourable and courageous citizens who thought they were signing up to defend our nation, not to advance some neo-conservative fantasy. (Now, if you want to use the flag to rally people to go after the REAL culprits being 9/11 - i.e. Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda and the Taliban - I'm RIGHT there with you, but that's NOT what we did.) There are other things I find offensive as well - Neo-Nazis/White Supremacists, people who want to legislate their religious morality and force me to live by their beliefs, the "God Hates Fags" group, people throwing paint on people wearing fur, people holding protests to try and get the government involved in what should be a family's private tragedy (i.e. Terri Schiavo,) and so on. I could really make quite the list :) The thing is, though, as much as I may be offended by these things, if I want to retain my OWN right to protest something, to lobby my government, and to practice my religion in peace, etc., I MUST, as a matter of pure principle, be willing to let all that other crap be presented in the same marketplace of ideas I'd want to make use of. In fact, by agreeing that they have the same right to try and make their case as I do, I assure my own right to protest what THEY'RE saying - which is how this whole thing is really supposed to work. Everyone has an equal chance to present their case to the general population, and whomever makes the best case wins. It's an integral part of Democracy. So, as much as I don't like seeing the flag burned, I'd prefer to see *it* burned than give up my own right to protest that burning.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Hey Matdredalia I completely agree that the act invokes reaction and certianly plenty of discussion. My point though is that the reaction and discussion become about the act it self and the original point that is being protested more often than not gets lost in the furer. I'm all for defending ones right to burn a flag but I just seriously question its effectivness.
Matdredalia Matdredalia 9 years
hypnotic - I agree with what you said about the government being the intended recipient, however, I disagree that it doesn't get the point across or removes any room for discussion. In all honesty, I have seen Flag Burning bring about such a wide array of reactions that it was impossible not to talk about it and get the ball rolling. Burning the banner our country waves so proudly and that so many "wartime Patriots", as I like to call them, flaunt as if it is the banner of God himself, tends to get a lot of reaction from people and tends to stand out more than someone just sitting on the street passing out fliers, in my experience. robinesque - you said EXACTLY what I was thinking. The quote you used is pretty much one of my all time favorite quotes, and I think that a lot of people forget that free speech stands even when you don't agree with what is being said. An American flag, while a symbol of this country, is usually the owners private property, and can be quite expensive. If they want to burn their expensive symbol, they can be my guest. The thing that most people seem to forget, though, is that anymore, the flag does not represent the beautiful principals that this country was founded upon, especially not to the rest of the world. It represents a capitalist system that has what the Sociologists refer to as "two welfare systems, one for the richest of the rich and one for the poorest of the poor", a self-righteous nation whose government has a tendency to think they have a right to play the World Police department, and who many nations around the world see as being a bully and out of line. Even in our own country, many feel our government is oppressive, self righteous, and in violation of the original rights afforded to us by our founding fathers. They have no regard for separation of church and state, nor do they care what the people have to say if it interferes with their own personal agenda. Burning the flag, to me, is a way to protest the joke that our government has become, with no respect for the people it supposedly represents or the principals upon which this country was founded. Would I ever do it myself? Maybe. I'm a very, very stout Patriot who loves what her country once stood for and the basic principals that this country was founded upon. I have the utmost respect for the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution, and an unwavering love and admiration for our military persons. I would have to think very long and hard about whether or not burning the flag would disrespect our servicemen and women, the Constitution, or the Declaration. But in the end it should be my choice, just as it is my choice to say what I think about my government in any other form of protest.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
kriskahn21, f.y.i. "the right is not confined to verbal speech but is understood to protect any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used." You say stir thing up. Well to steal a line from Mr. Connery I like my audiences stirred not shaken. This is precisely the point, you want to stir peoples intellect, imagination, consciousness and engage them on a level of exchanging ideas. Standing on a street corner screaming unintelligibly at the tops of our lungs at each other while the masses are mapping out the quickest get away from your location is not going to convince anyone.
stephley stephley 9 years
Did an actual recent event inspire this question?
Jessie-M Jessie-M 9 years
Sidenote- Yes I realize vandalism *can be* a form of protest. I just ignore it completely as I see it as completely counter-productive, as is flag burning. ( see hypnoticmix's post above about taking actions that scare away the masses rather than show them your viewpoint...his post explains it much better than I would ever be able to )
Jessie-M Jessie-M 9 years
The difference between the flag being just a symbol, and monuments like Rushmore (IMHO), is that the flag is something that can be bought at any store, displayed in any place, in any country, and people can do with it what they please. It is a person's property, but their property, because of what it is and how it is has been historically used, represents a lot of emotions, standards, and values to a lot of people. Understandably people get angry about flag burning, but is THEIR property to do with as they please. Monuments are public property, so they cannot be compared. A person has every right to destroy something they own, symbolic or not, but if it is not theirs, if they did not pay for it completely out of their own pocket.... its not protest or free speech...its just vandalism. Great point to think on, Undave35! :)
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
If I may, I would like to play deviles advocate on the whole "it's just a symbol" response. What other symbols do we, as Americans cherish? The Washington monument? Mount Rushmore is just a symbol. Why not let us paint those to show our anger and outrage at any administrations misuse of power, real or perceived. At what point does the destruction of a symbol become more than just an act of outrage, and if one act is legal, then why aren't all acts covered?
kia kia 9 years
I respect other's right to do it but there is no way I would put a flame to the flag. I won't dare even eat off of a flag paper plate or use a U. S. flag paper napkin at a 4th of July BBQ... that seems pretty wrong to me as well.
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