Skip to comments.Ross Mackenzie: Freedom to Burn the Flag? No – It Is Our Defining And Most Essential Symbol
Posted on 07/03/2005 7:47:23 PM PDT by quidnunc
Don't burn the flag; wash it. Norman Thomas.
In the debate about a proposed constitutional amendment proscribing desecration of the American flag, what tend to go undiscussed are the sentiments of the common man.
The great song-and-dance man George M. Cohan nailed those sentiments famously:
You're a grand old flag,
you're a high flying flag,
And forever in peace may
you wave .
Since the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in the 1989 Texas v. Johnson case, we have heard arguments like this:
The right of individuals to express themselves, even by burning the American flag, is enshrined in the First Amendment stipulating inter alia freedom of speech as an unbridgeable civil right. In fact, the very flag itself represents the right to destroy it in free expression.
And, in the latest twist, an ACLU lobbyist said last week that especially in this poll-driven culture public opinion polls are irrelevant to debates about the First Amendment, because that Amendment protects the most extreme statements and opinions: Polls on this question "are antithetical to what the Bill of Rights is supposed to be about."
You're the emblem of the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave .
Yet it's important to keep in mind several things.
Free expression is not necessarily free speech: In talking about using the flag as toilet paper or burning it in view of the First Amendment, the issue is not Hustler, not Ulysses or To Kill a Mockingbird, not nude dancing or the mid-finger salute. Nor is it about a mere piece of cloth not about just a symbol but The Symbol, our defining and most essential symbol.
(Excerpt) Read more at timesdispatch.com ...
It's a private property matter. If someone buys a flag, they have the right to do with it what they want.
Yes, and the Constitution has been redesigned. It is now "a living, breathing document," meaning anything that Souter-Stevens-Breyer-Ginsburg-Kennedy want it to mean. The Founding Fathers were a bunch of white males with old-fashioned ideas, but now everything Inside the Beltway is up-to-date.
You make a good point...it's around, but only as a "symbol" these days.
Personally, I think flag burning should be legal. The flag is a symbol of the United States, not of any policy...and as such, anyone burning the flag is simply indicating his renunciation of citizenship. I fail to see what the big problem is, if we just make that clearly defined.
Flag burners are weasels. I do not mind if they burn the flag, as long as they stay wrapped in it when they light the match.
I've never met a true patriot that has burned the flag. This kind of liberal doublespeak proves that the First Amendment is the FIRST refuge of a scoundrel!
Do they know that?
I don't think it's possible to even define flag desecration as a constitutional amendment without making an amendment longer than the European constitution.
Flag etiquette strikes me as folkways rather than mores. I was at Mount Rushmore yesterday and stopped into the tourist trap (gift shop). There were several methods they used in that store to violate flag etiquette that simply jumped off of the shelves at me, and that is a U.S. Government operation. The worst insult I saw was a set of U.S. flag coasters. It was utterly disgusting. Who are we to put in prison for such idiocy? I think George Bush is the Chairman of that board of directors.
I don't think you can criminalize bad manners.
Note what I wrote:
"I fail to see what the big problem is, if we just make that clearly defined."
It's simply the logical message from burning a symbol of the nation, right?
Almost as much nerve as it takes for Bono to chastise WESTERN governments over AFRICA'S problems! Hey Bono, go over to Zimbabwe and tell it to Mugabe!
If I wrap my flag around a white cross, is it still okay to burn it? strictly hypothetical, but, if it is okay to burn stuff to express oneself, is it still okay to burn stuff to express oneself?
I encourage leftists who want to burn a flag to do so.
Sooner or later, one of them will catch himself on fire.
Burning the UN flag could be a handy "Benchmark" as to what flag burning is Okeydokey, right. Just museing.
This guy is a horse's ass. He should be more concerned about the slow burning of our constitution that has occurred ever since Marbury vs. Madison.
I remember an old time professor saying that you don't get the bill of rights so you can eliminate the bill of rights.
I think flag burning promoted as an event in the public square is similar to shouting fire in a crowed theater. Both are designed to cause violence. Neither are protected by the 1st Amendment.
By the way, and not that it matters to the arguement, why are only lefty groups associated with flag burning? Conservatives get angry at government as well, yet you'll never see a them burn Old Glory.
Congress can take care of the problem by passing a law and denying the federal courts appellate review. No need for a Constitutional amendment.
There's no valid comparison to shouting fire in a crowded theater, which isn't a call for violence, but is something than can cause harm by being trampled on a hysterical crowd. Shouting fire like that is inherently dangerous by its very nature. Burning a flag is not inherently dangerous and is offensive only if you choose to be offended. Whether a conservative or liberal, a person has the right to do this on First Amendment grounds as well as property rights. This is a ridiculous issue to spend time on.
As an ultra pro-american veteran I believe in one's right to protest. I ask you, suppose another eight years of Clinton, the continuation of a ultra lib Supreme Court taking away private property, slaughter of babies,taking away gun rights etc. I have never burned an American flag but I can see the day when one can't be blamed for doing so. Even the patriot act which is allowing searches without a warrant is going to far. Yeah if I burn a flag it will be to protest that the greatest nation in the world is going down the toilet because of leftist socialist politicians, ie the likes of Pelosi, Schumer, Reid et al. Happy 4th of July!!
I'm glad to see there's still some sense on this subject. Thank you.
In terms of offense, that's right. You choose whether or not to be offended. Do you have your own mind? Can you control your own thoughts? Or are you some sort of animal or automoton who will go into an uncontrolled rage at the drop of a hat, like the Muslims do?
When do the expression of ideas need to be protected? All the time. It happens very frequently because there are people who cannot control themselves who will attack those that they disagree with - again, as we see in Muslim countries.
Burning a flag doesn't hurt anyone. It may hurt their feelings, but that's too bad. Causing mass hysteria in a theatre is putting people at risk. If you can't see the difference, that's your problem, so go ahead and be bitter.