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Flag Burning and other disturbing behaviors

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Do you let your Scouts burn the American flag? Of course you do.


Do you let children of non-citizens join your unit? Of course you do.


Do you allow your Scouts to speak languages other than English on campouts and other troop activities? Of course you do.


Do you allow your Scouts to choose which winter religious holiday to celebrate and how to greet others in a holiday mood? Of course you do.


Do you believe that Scouts have the right to worship any god they choose, even if it's not the same one you worship? Of course you do.


Do you allow your Scouts to hold and express personal opinions about the competance of the President which differ from yours? Of course you do.


Do you believe that Scouts and their families have the right to criticize national policies and institutions without being deported for disloyalty? Of course you do.


Do you believe that American citizens have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances by bring suit in the courts? Of course you do.



So what's the problem? It turns out that we all agree on what it means to be American!



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Doesn't matter whether they're burning a flag to retire one or as a form of protest. It's protected activity under the 1st Amendment. Now, I wouldn't let a flag burning protest occur at a troop activity, but Scouts, on their own, are free to express themselves as they wish within the confines of the law. Or, for that matter, with actions of peaceful civil disobedience, if the situation requires that.


In some countries, you could get jailed, or worse, for similar activities. We should applaud the freedoms we have to take such actions, whether we agree with the activity or not. Will some be "disturbed" by such actions? Sure. But, it doesn't matter.

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Hmmm. I go pretty far to the left sometimes, but I'm not sure how I'd react to a Scout who (even on non-Scouting time) burned an American flag in protest. This same Scout is going to wear a uniform with a flag on it, and recite the pledge with the troop? Certainly, he has the legal right to burn the flag in protest, but if he does so, is he expressing values that are consistent with those of Scouting? He also has a legal right to go to a rally and say that Scouting's values are worthless and stupid, but how do we deal with that at his next Board of Review? Not with praise, it seems to me.

Can burning a flag have a limited meaning (i.e., "the war in Iraq is wrong") or does it necessarily have a broader meaning ("America is evil"). I'm really not sure.

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Title 36, Section 176, of the United States Code states: "No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America;"


Burning the flag may be protected under the First Amendment, but the question was "Do you let YOUR Scouts burn the American flag?" My Scouts? Not on your life. I wouldn't care whether it was on Scout time, or not. You don't stop being a Scout when you take the uniform off.

If one of my Scouts did burn the flag in protest, they would have to find another Pack to join, or my Pack would have to find another Cubmaster.

If you want to protest - fine; just find another way to do it.

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I must say that in more than 40 years as a leader, during the turbulent 60's, 70's and so on, I never encountered flag burning (other than retirement ceremonies) in or out of Scouting. I'm just not sure it's much of a problem.


On the other hand, I should point out that kids in homes, schools and Scout troops enjoy a somewhat limited Constitutional protection when it comes to free speech. :)

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I've burned many American flags.


Each time, it has been a political statement.


Each time, I've been in full Scout uniform.


Each time, I've stood at attention and saluted.



Some call it retirement; I call it a political statement.


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Amen on the "political statement."

Sorry my reply took the thread off on a tangent. Just wanted to see if we were talking about the same subject. I just happen to be planning our unit's very first flag retirement, so the subject is fresh on my mind.

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You know, 'Kahuna' would be a great name for a hurricane.


I don't know. It wouldn't be politically correct in the Pacific, where a Kahuna is a priest and probably wouldn't make the list in the Atlantic. Does have a nice ring to it though, "Hurricane Kahuna."

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I understood what you meant to say. Our rights as citizens in this unique nation of ours are something very special and is without precedent in all of history. No other place on this planet will anyone ever have what we have here again. People are too selfish to do otherwise.


American Scouting is a close reflection of those rights and goes hand in hand with what it means to be an American. (Flags rise, people rise, "I am proud to be an American" begins slowly and silently in the background).




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Why, it's the same political statement I make when I salute the flag or say the Pledge of alliegance, of course!


My point was that a "political statement" is not necessarily a protest of some sort. By solemnly burning a tattered old flag, scouts are expressing their national pride and alliegance.


Of course, the larger point is that if this type of political speech by Boy Scouts is protected under the 1st Ammendment, so is the other side of the coin, as distasteful as that may be.

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