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Comments Archive: 4-28 to 5-6-95

Received on 5-6-95:

Steve Wilson writes:

Right on man, i'm a republican and a patriot and nationalist, but I beleive that we all have our constitutional rights and no one named for an amphibian is going to change those rights, keep up the fight!
ppstamm writes:
BRAVO! This whole issue is silly to the extreme. I taught communications and one of the most difficult concepts to get across was that the "map was not the territory." It is very hard for most people to understand that the flag is only a symbol and that "burning" or other seeming desecration is not the same as attacking the country. We must learn that symbols only have meaning to the persons using them. My students were constantly shocked when I described flag burning - and then explained that it is done daily to remove old and tattered flags. It is not the act that is offensive - it is how and why it is being performed.
Received on 5-5-95:

robbins writes:

After thinking about the issue overnight, I have reached the following opinion. The Flag is nothing more than a symbol, but to many people, not limited to the United States, it is a very important symbol. It is supposed to represent a nation, the people of that nation, and the things they hold dear to their hearts. Generally, the people that burn flags are discontented with their country, to the point that they might be advocating an overthrow of the government. Now, I realize that generalizations are dangerous, but I am basing my stereotype on personal experience. I probably don't need to tell you that advocating the violent overthrow of the govenrment is a crime. I really can't believe that anyone that wants to burn a flag does so out of love and respect of his or her country. I am personally opposed to burning our flag, but I am not certain that making it illegal is the answer. To, that is a band aid solution to a major problem. The real problem is not that people are burning our flag, the real problem is the corrupt people that get their fangs into washington and stay there as long as they can. I honestly believe that if we had leaders that we could be proud of (even if we disagree with them), then bruning the flag wouldn't even be an issue. The REAL answer to the problem is an amendemnt limiting the terms of congressperson's, not an amendment prohibiting the burning of our flag.
Brian Peterson writes:
thank you for expressing your liberal opinion tothe world!!! i read about this page in Newsweek and was happy to see another person who shared my views on this controversial issue. i am happy you had the courage to do this.
Timothy Jarrett writes:
I wonder how the Congress plans to implement this flagburning amendment and have it stand the test of the courts.
The real difficulty is that they will have to overturn multiple paradigms to grant themselves the power to pass this amendment. The first is the protection of free speech (within the limits understood by previous Supreme Court interpretations, i.e. "crying fire in a crowded theater," etc.); your page speaks more eloquently about this point than I could ever hope to.
The second is the issue of federal regulation of private property. The last time I checked, I could go out to my local grocery store near the Fourth of July, buy a cheap rayon flag, and it was _mine_. I paid US currency for it, and it became my property. Can the legislature dictate my actions toward my own property? Never mind the symbolism. I question whether the Congress has the constitutional power to regulate my use of my own property in circumstances where it poses no hazard to others.
ljdolby writes:
You're all wet! The flag is a symbol of our country and the way I see it - when you burn the flag you're scorning the country you live in. There is no better place on this earth to live than in the U.S.A. If you disagree with things, there's a process in place called voting - or write your representatives and express your opinion. There's many ways to disagree with your Government - but please draw the line at buring our flag. In short, as many have said before me, if you hate this country so much - hey, there's no chain around your leg, leave!
Lynne Cooney Barkett writes:
Cool. We can't pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing all citizens equal rights, but we can pass one against *flag burning*?
Great page.
Jason writes:
I like your page. I think it is important for us to actually have the freedom that the flag stands for, and burning it proves just how free we are. Of course, as you point out, it may be illegal someday. Unbelievable. Just for arguements sake, I am a veteran of the Air Force. Power To The People!
Eric Bloomquist writes:
Excellent page.
I have no desire to burn the flag (not even a virtual one), I but think an amendment forbidding it would be absurd and tragic. "Defending" a symbol of the country by changing the foundation of the country (the Constitution) is misguided, at best.
Vic writes:
What an absurd waste of time and energy. I can't believe they are reviving this proposed amendment. Why is it that the same folks who hold their precious 2nd amendment so sacred are so eager to tinker with the 1st? If the Constitution ain't broke, don't fix it.

I personally find flag-burning a repulsive attention-getting stunt. The only thing I find more repulsive is legislators getting political attention by supporting this because it makes them appear more "American."

Ignore the flag-burners and they will go away. Unfortunately, ignoring the flag-wavers won't make them go away. We have to vote them out of office.

tom anderson writes:
i really appreciate you expressing so well why the anti flag burning amendment must be stopped. it makes me so angry that people just can't see the illogic in this amendment. (1)protect the flag so that (2) you reduce freedom so that (3) the flag stands for less and (4) pretty soon it stands for nothing and then no one will have reason to burn it.

its perfectly allright though to repeal the 5th amendment so i guess the first is fair game too.

thanks for the time and effort

Jan Morales writes:
When I saw your flag burning amendment page on the "What's New With NSCA Mosaic" page, I thought it must have been some stale page left over from when Bush and others made such a shameful issue of it a couple of years ago. I thank you for bringing to my attention the fact that Congress has raised it again. How disappointing.

The irrationality of people in this country never fails to surprise and sadden me. The idea that support for the right to a particular form of expression is not necessarily support for that particular expression itself seems easy enough for me to understand. Why is it so difficult for so many in this country? As a member of the ACLU, I'm quite accustomed to seeing my donated money spent to defend some pretty unpleasant people, including the KKK and neo-Nazis. When I read the cases, however, it's clear that what's at stake is not the truth of falsity of the beliefs of these people; it's their right--OUR right--to speak our minds publicly and freely.

It's people like you who actually bother to participate in the process of politics that are the true patriots. Declaring certain icons to be sacred and backing that declaration with threats of violence or legal sanction is not--that's oppression. One of the things that is truly great about this country is that we all can speak our minds without fear of being arrested, jailed, or "disappearing", as is the case in many other countries around the world. How sad that so many Americans, including supposedly intelligent and prominent ones, take this greatness so for granted that they don't see this amendment as the threat that it is.

And REALLY, don't we have more pressing problems in this country than the burning of flags and the bruising of delicate sensibilities? Americans love to complain about the Congress that THEY THEMSELVES elected, and then they eat up these blatantly transparent and utterly gutless displays of so-called patriotism disguised as action.

I wish the Congress and this country would stick to hurling insults to one another on issues like the economy, health care, and abortion. Leave the flag burners alone. They're not bothering anyone.

Aaron R. Goldschmidt writes:
here's a brief poem summing up my reaction to your page:

flag burning -- 5/5/95

i had a chance to burn a flag,
a golden blaze o'er red, white and blue --
i'll say i passed on the option,
no reason to apply my choice to you.

thanks for putting together such a wonderful web page, both because i support the views contained therein, and because it does such a great job of creating a constructive dialogue.

Brett Harris writes:
Please appreciate the Irony here: Your freedom of speech was protected by people who fought and died to allow you and I the Luxury of flag burning, public debates, free press etc. I recommend that instead of burning a flag, even a virtual one, you direct that time and expense toward replacing a flag at a Vetrans hospital or State Veterans Home. Your state Senator will be happy to provide you with list of such facilities. While there, I suggest you discuss the Constituition and the proposed amendment with the residents, as they are the only people capable of giving you seriously considerable opinions.
Ernie N. Sochin writes:
Please don't burn the other icons in my computer. We must all show devotion and loyalty to all icons or who knows what might happen.
Received on 5-4-95:

T.J.Booth writes:

what does the American flag mean to a lot of people in the world? In Central America, Vietnam, Iraq the flag means death, NOT the liberty and equality of Right propaganda.
Larry writes:
When I first checked out the flag site, I didn't read all of the documents. I therefore missed Sam Johnson's inspired comment about computer simulated flag-burning not being equivalent to burning an actual flag. In other words, a symbolic act against a symbol of a symbol is not the same as a symbolic act against the symbol itself. Is Johnson another one of the former professors of the GOP? With a degree in logic, perhaps?
Marty Justis writes:
Warren, I've taken time to read through your page and the responses, pro and con, to the issue of flag protection. I should tell you, I support -- strongly support -- a flag protection amendment to the US Constitution. My compliments on the way you've laid out the subject by providing information about the legislation and a history of flag burning. There are, however, several things important to the issue that I've not seen mentioned.
Some people seem to think the US Supreme Court is the final arbiter of law in the nation. They are not. I'm sure you're well aware that their job is simply one of interpretation. In the case which is central to the argument and to the call for a constitutional amendment -- Texas v. Johnson -- Justice Brennan suggested that since the flag was not referenced in the Constitution, it could not be protected by it. The amendment under discussion would make that change by placing within the Constitution the resources necessary to protect the flag under the law. This issue is not about free speech - - it's about the 28th amendment.
Another important item that I did not see was that of popular support for an amendment to prohibit desecration. There have been at least five Gallup surveys of which I am aware, conducted first in 1989 and most recently in March of this year. Through that period the results have consistently shown that 80 percent of those polled: 1) see no incompatibility between flag protection laws and freedom of speech; 2) do not believe flag desecration is an appropriate expression of freedom of speech; 3) believe the matter should be decided by constitutional amendment; 4) would, themselves, vote for a constitutional amendment to protect the flag. I realize that some take issue with polls, and that's fine. But you'd have to admit that a scientifically conducted poll is a reasonably reliable means of collecting opinion.
Surveys aside, here is hard, documented evidence that the great majority of Americans want a flag protection amendment. Forty-nine states have, through joint memorial resolutions from their legislatures, petitioned congress for a flag protection amendment. The one state yet to do so is Vermont, where the measure has cleared one chamber of their legislature. All fifty states have taken up the matter. That's 99 independent legislative bodies that have considered the issue of a flag protection amendment, discussed it, debated it, and voted in the affirmative calling on Congress to propose the amendment. (By the way, Nebraska has a unicameral legislature, hence the 99 rather than 100.)
Support in congress is strong as well. When the flag amendment was introduced on March 21, 1995, House Joint Resolution 79 had cosponsorship from some 234 members. In the Senate, Senate Joint Resolution 31 had cosponsorship from 44, I believe. Since introdcution, the numbers have steadily climbed and today they're at 260 and 53.

All three areas mentioned: Gallup, memorial resolutions, and cosponsorship are matters of record. All three evidence a strong desire for a flag protection amendment.
Now, here's my point: the real issue here, the real question is, whose Constitution is it, anyway? The document does not begin with the words "We the Supreme Court," or We the Congress," but with "We the people." The Constitution belongs to We the People and the Constitution itself gives the right to the people to change the document through a purposely difficult procedure as outlined in Article V. Congress plays a part in it, but the ultimate decision for changing the Constittuion lies with the people. That's where the issue should be decided, and not on Capitol Hill. There are those who believe Americans are not smart enough to understand the issue -- not smart enough to figure it out. I do believe they are. The great majority of people know the difference between flag burning and free speech and they want the flag protected.
Finally, I'd just like to point out that the amendment does not set penalties and does not mandate a law. It simply returns to the states a right they had -- and used judiciously -- for nearly 100 years prior to the Court's decision in 1989.

Received on 4-30-95:

Duncan Halley writes:

I should make clear first of all that I am not an American citizen, and so, by some standards, should not be participating in this debate (I am Scottish and live in Norway). However, I did live in the U.S. for over a year and am in most respects happy that it is the unchallenged political and military leader of the world. I respect both the country and its institutions.

I have no profound contributions to your debate on the issue, only an observation. This issue has been widely reported on around the world, and in Europe at least, has served to reduce respect for the US. The proposed amendment is viewed as a piece of childish posturing, irrelevant to any real problems the US faces, and perhaps intended to distract from them. It is also said to speak of a country insecure in its self-esteem and a populace immature politically. In this way, the proposers of the flag burning amendment are, paradoxically, themselves harming the country for which the flag stands.

The accuracy or otherwise of this view from outside which, I had perhaps best stress, I do not share, is irrelevant; the effect it has on America`s international profile, and therefore, to some degree, influence, is, alas, not.

Michael Triggs writes:
Yeah, I heard about your page in Alt.Christnet. The concept of burning a Virtual Flag is a cool idea. You get the chance to show how pissed off with the government you are, without messing up the atmosphere too badly. Don't let those bastards who are ripping you up drag you down. You have a good idea. I'd rather see people burn a flag than blow up a building.
Nettie writes:
It is only a matter of time before the 'net is the ONLY place one can disparage not only the flag, but eagles, guns and pick-up trucks. Then again, Congress is looking into stopping we "subversives" on the Internet too...

Bravo for your critical bent. I salute you ALONG with the flag.

Eric Shore Baur writes:
I agree with you completely. I think that a person should be alowed to burn a flag if s/he desires to. I would not do so (unless by proper ceremony - would THAT be illegal too?) and am not very impressed when others do. I was raised to respect the flag and what it represents - and I do... but if I wanted to, why should I be stopped from burning it?
Also, I have might have an addition for your list of items that would be desecration. I don't know how many people rememeber the opening of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace - but there were about 400 American Flags held by Girl and Boy Scouts at that event. I know... I was one of them. My mother was also in charge of collection ALL of those flags. At one point I can remember, we had about 200-300 of them in a pile in out living room. We did try as hard as we could to give them prooper respect and good treatment (as they were all donated), and I believe we did a very good job. We did, however, put small stiches in them to identify them if the poles were not already marked, and had to handdle them quite a bit in the processing.
I don't know if any of our actions would be considered to be wrong by others or be the proposed amendment - I just though it is an interesting example of how a person trying their hardest to repect the flag can still screw up occasionally.
PS: I have also dropped one, years and years ago... hey, it was an accident. I didn't mean to and it certainly was not malicious.
Received on 4-29-95:

Mark Pellegrino writes:

It seems ironic to me that the people who support anti - flag-burning legislation are the same ones who enjoy the very freedoms the flag symblolizes. I love this country as much as anyone and one of the reasons I do is because it guarantees me the freedom to speek out against it if circumstances ever motivated me to do so.
Received on 4-28-95:

Bill Humphries writes:

The McDonalds next to my office leaves their flag up all day and night. The didn't bother to put it at half mast when the President asked everyone in order to respect everyone who died in Oklahoma City. They let it go ragged and don't replace it. One of the grommets failed and they did a lame job of fixing it.

On top of all this, they have a plaque from the American Legion commending them for flying the flag.

Larry Weiskirch writes:
A terrific page! Congratulations and thanks.
During the previous round of anti-flag burning hysteria, the topic was covered beautifully in Mark Alan Stamaty's "Washingtoon" comic, which runs in the Village Voice and a few other places. I don't remember the exact words, but the essence was a flag telling someone like you (or me) that the reason an anti-flag burning amendment to the Constitution is because the "symbol is more important that what the symbol represents."

By the way, your list of other current evils and threats to freedom is missing a major player: the plague of "three strikes" laws. Here in California, some victims of the state law have gotten mandatory 25 years-to-life sentences for such things as stealing a slice of pizza, in one case, and for distributing food to the homeless, which is illegal in San Francisco. In this context, perhaps we should be thankful that the the flag amendment doesn't mandate capital punishment for offenders!

Keep up the good work!

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