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House passes power to ban flag burning - On to Senate

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In more than one post within this thread, someone has indicated that we are not tripping over flag burners. The frequency of a wrongdoing has no barring on its offensiveness. Either flag burning is an offense we should ban, or it is not.

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Below are NOT my words - but I generally agree with their content. They are from Warren Apel.



I know you're all upset about the attacks on America. But responding by removing freedoms is a very drastic and wrong direction of your efforts. Peaceful protest is NOT a threat to America. When you allow terrorists to convince you that you need to crack down on freedom -- they have won.


I respect the flag as much as any of you do. Believe me. I don't burn it. I don't plan to. But I don't want to see peaceful American citizens thrown in jail. And I don't want to see the current situation used as leverage in a debate that ought to be conducted rationally and logically. Seriously -- if we are going to modify the constitution and remove part of the First Amendment, we need to think that through -- not act out of anger or fear in the heat of passion.


We don't need an amendment to the constitution. We need to show the enemy that we will not stoop to their levels. In America, we don't put people in jail for protesting against the government. That's what they do in Afghanistan, China, or Iraq.


Here's my solution to the dilemma. The main cause of flag burnings since the end of the Vietnam war has been protest over flag burning laws. Flag burners in general are not "Anti-American." The people who want to "protect the flag" have incited more flag burnings than anyone else. So. Keep the law the way it is. Now and then someone will burn a flag to protest a war, or a law, or something. We should be strong enough as a country to accept criticism and allow some people to offend us now and then..


The only alternative is to crack down on it. Modify the constitution. Start putting people in jail. And as soon as we pass that law, thousands of people will burn the flag peacefully and in public, to show their disagreement with that new law. And they will all have to be imprisoned. Isn't that a horrible prospect?


1 -- The word "desecration" implies that the flag is sacred, and the government (separation of church and state) can't say that something is sacred.


2 -- Passage of this amendment would result in peaceful protestors being arrested for making political statements, something that happens in China, Iraq, or the former Soviet Union. Not something that happens in America.


3 -- The Boy Scouts burn flags -- it's the only way to respectfully retire them. So when a protestor gets arrested for it, it's not the BURNING that they're being arrested for. it's the thoughts in their minds at the time. In America, we shouldn't arrest people for their thoughts.


4 -- People who DO burn the flag in protest do it for one reason more than any other protest of anti-flag-burning laws. If you want to "protect the flag" the best thing to do would be to leave things the way they are and allow a handful of disrespectful people to desecrate a flag now and then. If you pass that law, I will guarantee thousands of flags burnt in protest.


5 -- If I was arrested under the new flag burning law, the first legal argument I would make would be one of selective enforcement. The same equality-philosopy that says you can't go around only arresting Mexican-Americans when you want to enforce the new speeding law works against flag burning laws. If they arrested me (a political writer) but they let the thousands of people with little flags improperly displayed on their car windows go, they are discriminating against my political beliefs. Hundreds of thousands of people desecrate the flag daily in the US, but only a handful would be singled out for their political belief under the new law. This makes the "flag burning law" absolutly unenforcable. Either they would have to let me go, or they would have to start putting EVERYONE in jail.


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What I abhor is watching several US flags being burned in Iraq after 17,000+ have lost their lives fighting for those people and in Europe protesting almost everything American after liberating them in WWII and how it is widely shown on the media. A few nutcases here in the USA burning flags is insignificant by comparison. We don't need more laws what we need is a much better foreign policy. It is time for Americans wake up to the real dangers in our society, groups like the KKK, American Neo Nazi Party, these crazy survivalist and para military groups, etc. all which are undermining the fabric of our society today. Remember it was so called Americans who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City not Arab extremists. If Congress really wants to do something lets get rid of these groups who hide under technicalities of the Constitution and work to bring our country down. Passing a flag burning ban in the US is like fighting a fire with a squirt gun, the intention may be good but the result is insignificant.

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It is time for Americans to wake up to the real dangers in our society, groups like the KKK, American Neo Nazi Party, these crazy survivalist and paramilitary groups, etc. all which are undermining the fabric of our society today.


This amendment seeks to honor and protect the one symbol which we all should be willing to rally behind, the U.S. flag. It represents our form of government, our freedom, and the people who fight gallantry to preserve both of the former. Your object of concern has some validity, but it could open a Pandoras Box that we ought not to tamper with. It has implications which are much more dangerous and frightening than those brought to the fore earlier in this thread. Im not going to lose much sleep over their unease, i.e., who is going to decide what constitutes desecration of the flag? However, if the U.S. government starts to target law abiding groups which they deem to be undermining the fabric of our society, that will cause me great alarm. Where does their charter start and end? While many of these groups are despicable, who decides which groups are worth pursuing? Am I worried about the rights of a Neo Nazi group? No. I'm worried about the rights of law abiding groups that are deemed a threat because they don't represent popular opinion, or the opinion of those in power.

(This message has been edited by Rooster7)

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You know, I did think about those little flags people still have on their cars but forgot to mention them earlier. They experience hurricane-force winds nearly every day and eventually fray to pieces or they fall or break off. And then we drive over them on the highways. Not very respectful.

Anyone remember the flag decals for car windows that an oil company (Gulf Oil?) was distributing as a promotion many years ago? I remember outrage over that desecration as well.

Edited part: Rooster7, I guess we were typing at the same time. Anyway, I don't write this to you often but - I agree.(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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Rooster says:


This amendment seeks to honor and protect the one symbol which we all should be willing to rally behind, the U.S. flag.


I think what it really seeks is to gain political advantage for its supporters by allowing them to demagogue the issue of patriotism. But assuming that it does "seek to honor and protect... the U.S. flag" as you state, I think it would accomplish the opposite. I think it would devalue and cheapen the flag a bit by diminishing the freedoms of speech and dissent, which are among the values for which the flag is a symbol. This is true regardless of whether the "slippery slope" concerns are valid or not. I think one exception to the First Amendment is one too many.

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