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Comments Archive: 4-15 to 4-22-95

Received on 4-22-95:

Marlowe writes:

Thanks for the home page. It is not, contrary to several people's belief, a vehicle for shock and outrage, but it is a source of information for civil liberties. For myself, I am constantly amazed by the fervor that this particular subject raises in a society that seems to be on the one hand growing more nihilistic and apathetic and on the other hand, more multicultarilistic and cosmopolitan. However, the point you make, and quite well, is that when one civil liberty is encroached, no matter the severity of the form that that liberty takes, it calls into question the existence of all other freedoms.

Good luck. With a choice between freedom and a symbol of freedom arises, I must say that for me, freedom will win out every time.

Received on 4-19-95:

Hart Williams writes:

I just wish that every little Dittohead in Anerica would be forced to read the following excerpts from Texas v. Johnson, (1989, I think): Justice Kennedy's succinct, amazingly written concurrence, and Chief Juste Rehnquist's raving, half-lunatic dissent (replete with pages of awful poetry!).

In a few pages, and at any law library in the land, you can understand the whole issue in five pages better than some "right-thinking" AmeriKKKans ever seem to approach.

Thanks for tweaking the Newtlear Warheads, but the Boy Scout in me still gets mad when I see McDonald's and Hilton and Auto dealers using Old Glory as corporate toilet paper (rotting in front of their buildings until replaced with another sacrificial flag). Where are our American Patriots then?

Marc Salomon writes:
With the recent report that the 1% of the US population owns 40% of the wealth, those 1% are going to use any means at their disposal to rally most of us poor sods to bolster their position of privilige. Focusing on marginal issues like abortion, queer rights, the goddamn OJ trial and flag burning is one very successful technique of distracting people's attention from the economic entropy that the global free-market system portends. Just as satan means nothing to the athiest yet can be used by the godless to wield vast power over the christian, flag burning is another case where a piece of cloth (usually poorly-burning polyester, imported at that) has come to symbolise the good in america (that which has been wrested from the natives here before us and those unfortunate enough to live in the 3d world) while conveniently ignoring the flip-side of our relatively opulent lifestyle.

Joey Johnston or whatever his name was is a charismatic jerk who was working with the Revolutionary Communist Party in Houston back in the eighties while I was attending the University of Texas at Austin. Unsuccessful at organizing anything more successful than a run down to the 7-11 for beer (maybe it was that pig's head he dragged around by a chain during a demonstration in Houston), these maoist wannabees would frequently migrate north to Austin or Dallas (for the Republican convention of 1984 where the immolation of the colors at hand transpired) in order to suck down the (relatively successful) organizing efforts of others, including ours towards divestment from South Africa in Austin.

Point is that Joey Johnston is a miranda when it comes to the right to expression, just as the NRA is correct in its opposition to statutory repeal of the 2d amendment. The US Government was founded in war, and those who wrote what was then a progressive document (even though it prescribed a methodology for maintaining slavery) realized this and provided for it. The 2d amendment was not meant for shooting birds--rather for shooting oppressive government agents such as the ATF idiots in Waco. The first amendment is not there so we can freely print invites to tea parties, rather for a robust critique of the affairs of state.

When the state imposes a social contract and fails to live up to its end of the deal, it compromises its legitimacy. So compromised, there is no problem with expressing disgust at this swing towards instrumentalism (state as instrument of business) by incinerating the standard.

Jim writes:
You are a brave and foolish man.
I grew up listening and watching our government lie about Viet Nam, spy on citizens, and denounce drugs while selling them. Flag-burning is such a harmless and completely symbolic act, it deserves nowhere near the attention it draws.
Those citizens getting lathered up are confusing a symbol with their country. The flag is a piece of cloth. The flag-burner is making his public statement, something our country was founded on. Petty laws imposed by misguided flag-defenders are trampling on the Constitution and the nature of America. It is they who are showing no understanding of a free republic.
Get a life, get over it, read some history. Right on. Peace.
Received on 4-18-95:

The Finster writes:

The American flag means a great deal to many people. It stands for a noble set of beliefs, a vision of a better future, and the sacrafice of hundreds of thousands of people who gave their lives defending YOU and I. (Do you think there would even be such a thing as the Internet, with its free exchange of ideas, without that sacrafice?) When you "burn" the flag you trivialize their sacrafice.

The Supreme Court has ruled many times in the past that freedom of speech is NOT absolute. There are many laws that restrict what we can say and do, ie: disorderly conduct, inciting to riot, unlawful demonstrations, etc. These laws are brought about for the well being of the general population. They are also approved of by the general population.

Its people like you, with paranoid delusions of a government trying to enslave its citizens, that are destroying the moral fiber of American society. Restricting flag burning as a form of protest is not going to lead to Nazi storm troopers kicking in your door. On the contrary, it might, in some small way, help bring back a little respect for our national institutions.
My reply

Dan Brooks writes:
I can't say that I agree with flag burning, but you do make a good point. The constitution and the courts have said people can do this BUT these people (who burn the flag) have to realize that 98% of society don't agree with flag burning no matter what the supreme court says. The point I would like to make is that legally you have the right burn the flag, shit on your lawn or call me an asshole but i have the right to BE an asshole. You see, i live in Iowa (doesn't have to be Iowa)! If anyone burned the flag here i'd venture to say it wouldn't be too long before they got their ass beat into the ground. It's sad that things like that happen, but it's also sad that people have to burn the flag to get attention.Well, that's all.

By the way...I didn't burn ol' glory. My efforts in changing the system would be better used in some other fashion.
My reply

Received on 4-17-95:

Kevin B. P. O'Connell writes:

I concur with your position. I am amazed at the variety of reponses you receive. Many have obviously understood what you are trying to do. So many others (to quote a popular phrase) "just don't get it". To me it is quite sad to think that someone would think that the flag needs "protection". If it needs it, then it symbolizes something which is false. The beauty of the flag is that it does not need the force of law. Because it represents something which is true, it cannot be destroyed. More specifically, there are so few incidents which would be covered by this amendment, specifically because this amendment isn't needed. The flag, in my observation, gains respect from almost all parts of this country and beyond. And it is all the more impressive because there are no laws which require this respect. You are required to stand when a judge enters the court room, you think that shows respect?

I relate an experience to illustrate what I mean. When all of those hostages were being held in Iran, I was at a football game in a stadium. As was the custom around the nation, just before the national anthem was played, the announcer asked for a moment of silence for the hostages. For an entire minute 50,000+ people stood in virtual silence. It was so quiet that you could hear the flags flapping which ringed the stadium. It was actually quite moving, even for the 20 year old I was at the time. But it was moving because this was completely voluntary. No laws, no intimidation, just 50,000 people all joined in a common moment.

The same for the flag. The beauty of the flag is that people voluntarily, and therefore honestly, show respect for this symbol. It is the beauty of this flag that it brings forth such respect from a people who can freely choose not to display such respect. It is the beauty of the flag that so many who could choose otherwise, choose to display such incredible respect. Without the ability to prove it, I would state that more people show more respect for the flag than they do for almost any other symbol. And when you realize that many of the more dear symbols are of a religious nature, and so many religions threaten eternal damnation for transgressions, it is amazing that a symbol which demands nothing, offers no punishment for disrespect, and no reward for admiration, commands so much respect from so many, even those who have so little.

It would be sad if this amendment passed. It would take away the power the flag has. In a culture in which we tend to hide many of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, the power of the flag is that so many are willing to show, so freely, what they feel and believe. It can really bring this country together. To take this away, merely so we can convict the 5 per decade who might choose to burn this flag, would be a great loss indeed.

From one who stands when the national anthem is played on the TV.

Received on 4-16-95:

Paul H. Henry writes:

In 1990, my college campus received a visit from Gregory Johnson, the man whose flag-burning act the year before led to the Supreme Court's Texas v. Johnson decision emphasizing our First Amendment right to burn the American flag.

I found Mr. Johnson's politics and his method of expressing them odious. Yet I was the first one in line to shake his hand after his talk.

Reading the comments on your page is like taking a time machine five years into the past. The same arguments are advanced now in opposition to the right to burn the flag that were advanced then, and they still don't make any sense.

Yes, I know that seeing the American flag burned results in a very visceral emotional response to a lot of people, and that they find it deeply offensive.

You want to know what I find deeply, emotionally offensive, that provokes me almost to violence?

I'm deeply offended when Republicans traumatize the family of Vince Foster by concocting zany conspiracy theories that accuse his friends of murdering him.

I'm deeply offended when Rush Limbaugh criticizes the looks of the 14-year-old daughter of the President of the United States.

I'm deeply offended when a United States Senator uses a 1940s-stereotype Japanese accent to make a racist comment about Judge Ito.

There are lots of things that offend me just as much as anyone could be offended by the burning of a flag. But I just set my jaw and, when appropriate, flame back. It never occurs to me, somehow, to ask the Congress to ban such offensive speech.

Bravo to you, sir, for your defense of the object our soldiers REALLY fight for: not the flag, but the United States Constitution.

whiteisd writes:
When burning the US flag is made illegal, the next thing made illegal
will be burning any flag of any country. Then it will be made illegal
to burn a copy of the bible. Next on the list will be any document
representing the US, such as a copy of the constitution. Next,
any effigy of a present or past president of the US. Then,
any effigy of any elected official of the US. After that,
any document, book or similar item that is deemed
to represent any government or religion in the
world. Where would the line be drawn?
You say you know where the line
ought to be drawn, do you?
I say the founders of our
country knew where
to draw the line.
Keep free
Keep free speech. Reject stupid laws and frivolous messing with the consitution. Burning the US flag sucks, and if I see you do it, I will walk up and give you hell. I won't touch you, though, and I will fight to see that our government does not either.
Manoj Kasichainula writes:
Life is too precious to waste on being offended. If someone wants to burn a flag for some strange reason, I just ignore them, and worry about things that actually affect me in some way. Besides, there are many symbols of our country.
Why should the flag be special? Should burning a picture of a bald eagle be illegal too? I would never burn any symbol of America, but there are problems in our society, both social and economic, that could actually bring about the downfall of this country. I think our time would be better spent dealing with these issues than with purely symbolic debates.

From March to December of 1995, while this amendment was being considered in Congress, this page collected a large volume of comments from the public, all of which are on display in the Comment Archive.

The Flag Burning Page generated quite a volume of email. Most of it was posted right here. Messages like "Why don't you do the Nation a favour and kill yourself." (actual quote) would just clutter up this page. People who send flames like this one are given a chance to rewrite their thoughts before they get posted to the Flag Flames Page

Warren S. Apel