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Flag-Burning Comments August-Sept 1995

Tony P. Krvaric writes:
I recently moved to this country, and hold the American flag extremely high, and was very upset at flag-burning. I was very relieved to learn of the new law to ban flag-burning. It used to get me extremely upset, but after reading your opinions, I must agree that you have a point.

I do not wish to burn the flag, nor will I ever do so. I cherish the freedoms and opportunities I enjoy here in this country too much. The flag stands for this very freedom, and banning the opportunity to burn it would "damage" this freedom. I am extremely Republican, although I am not entitled to vote, and I do not know how this issue is divided across party lines. I'd assume Republicans would be in favor of this law banning the flag. Anyway, I won't rant on any longer. Only to tell you that I changed my mind about flag-burning, and agree that, ofcourse it should be allowed...

Chris Van Duker writes:

Reading some of the comments in your "flame letters" section reminded me of something which happened to a friend of mine. During the '92-'93 school year, I taught English as a volunteer in Romania. A close friend of mine named Csaba told me about an experience he had when he was a young boy. He was living in a small town in central Transylvania during the Ceausescu regime, and the town had to prepare for Ceausescu's special visit to the town. He was given the job of carrying a picture of the dictator's wife in a parade. During the parade, with everybody watching, he accidently dropped the picture, the glass frame broke, and he was promptly arrested, taken to the local police station, and interrogated. The accident ultimately went on his permanent record, affecting which high schools he was eventually allowed to attend.

Romania was probably among the worst of the Communist nations in Eastern Europe with regard to human rights and personal freedom, yet even then, the average citizen was given all the room he pleased to exclaim his patriotism and promote the government.

When we wax patriotic about what the flag means to us, and what those who fought for the flag were really fighting for, we often forget that the "freedom" about which we trumpet so loudly is the freedom to do unpopular things. If we were only free to exclaim our support of the government, that would be a weak freedom indeed.

I realize that this letter is essentially preaching to the choir, but I thought it would be important to lend my support.

Neal Bedard writes:

The problem is, whether burning the flag is a 'good' or 'bad' idea is at its basis a personal value judgement, and a complicated one at that.

It relates to the context of the burning itself (e.g., protest or disposal - the former objectionable to most, the latter proscribed by flag etiquette.)

It relates to the values of the person observing the burning (in Texas it was considered so heinous that it was banned by statute; in Berkeley and other college towns it can be a common occurrence.)

It relates to the values of the flag-burner itself. The flag can be burned out of patriotic duty (disposal), in protest to the nation's government, or out of blind hatred of the United States. Ironically, all three motivations are out of patriotism.

You may not think so, but the protestor who burnt a flag on your Capitol's steps made a statement about his government. The now-cliche angry mobs of middle-Eastern foreigners burning the U.S. Flag in their streets in protest to the United States' policies also make such a statement. You cannot deny that these are 'patriotic' acts, that is, protests sprung from a desire to reshape the United States government for the better.

The Flag's high *symbolic* value is what gives the act of publicly burning the Flag such power. And why is that? Because of the very things it *stands for*: our Nation - specifically for our Constitution, our people, our values, our land. Think about that one for a minute: a protestor in Bagdhad actually feels *our* Flag is important enough that he would actually *burn it publicly*! Such is the power of the values we hold, that the Flag symbolizes.

In its decision that overturned the Texas Flag-burning ban, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment protects freedom of expression - the expression of ideas. 'Ideas' is another way of saying 'values.' The Court had the unenviable task of weighing two sets of values: the First Amendment, and the idea of protecting the Flag. And wouldn't you know it, the Constitution won out.

Yet, how could it be any other way? Don't we acknowledge this in our everyday lives? We 'pledge allegiance' to the Flag, but when we take an oath of government office we swear to 'protect and defend' the Constitution. What's the difference? While the Flag is a symbol for whatever you have in mind about the United States, the Constitution and the values codify our nation's soul: it is *above* personal values and prejudices. This is what having a government of laws is all about.

We don't give up our lives for 'king and country', or for a piece of cloth. We give up our lives for the Constitution, the values held in it. With this in mind, is it wise to sully the Constitution to protect the Flag? I think not. It's un-American.

About Oklahoma City-
I have another bone to pick: never, ever, confuse (or try to confuse) burning the Flag with terrorism or treason. Terrorism, by definition, harms people and property, and treason harms national security. Flag-burning does neither.

It is a dangerous mistake to make to imply - even by association - that Flag- burners are potential terrorists. (From a pragmatic standpoint I would maintain just the opposite: the last thing a terrorist would want is publicity *before* committing an act of terror.)

Brooks E. Smith writes:

I must register my opposition to the proposed Flag Burning Amendment based on the following observations...

1) Due to the infrequency of flag burning incidents, it is not necessary. Three occasions over the past how ever many years does not dictate spending the legislative energy or money to see that it doesn't happen again.

2) On occasion, some people feel left out of the process; like someone in a position of authority isn't listening to their concerns. Flag burning for them is the last step they feel they can take to get someone to listen.

3) This is a free speech issue. No matter how distasteful one may find flag burning, the right to do so should be protected. I have never been angry enough at our government to burn a flag, but I can see where someone of a slightly different political perspective might.

4) Flag burning hasn't killed anyone lately- can the same thing be said about the militia movement that Congress is now trying to protect?

5) Finally, flag burning represents what is probably the most dire expression of free speech. People are not engaging in the act without much thought, nor are they taking the action without considering the possible effects of their action. I may not agree with the act or the reasons behind it, but I'm certainly not for taking the right to express their displeasure in this manner.

Let's not waste valuable time and money passing an amendment that we don't need. With the erosion of the First Amendment and the war on the Fourth, let's concentrate our efforts on real issues that face people every single day, not on something that happens once in a blue moon.

Lisa Chabot writes:

Thank you very much for this page--it's good to run into other thinking people. It's a wretched day when a symbol becomes more important than people, when respect for an inanimate thing is commanded by law, when posturing gets more response than a reasoned debate.

I've been kind of disheartened about this; your page has cheered me a little. Thanks for your work. (I mean, I'm not disabled with depression or anything, just alarmed at a trend.)

Also, in case someone else hasn't mentioned it, isn't creating a bitmap of a flag, or downloading an image to a file, and then deleting either of these also desecration? And if so, what about all the intermediate machines who passed the packets along the net but didn't keep them?

Next the failure to display a flag will become a crime.

The flag's already burning: the legistlators who created this proposed amendment lit the match. It's always a sad thing to watch. If it passes, we won't be able to stop. In the past, however, I've usually found flagburning coupled with a protest over trampled on rights, rather in favor of the trampling.

[What about 4th of July displays, in which a flag depicted in fireworks only exists in the fire?]

SpudBeach writes:

Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your web page is just what this country needs, a forum for discussing the amendment. It reminds me a lot of a Doonesbury cartoon from a couple years back. In it, there is a large flag printed, and the reader is just dared to dispose of the paper. Couldn't be done if the flag amendment is passed.

Anyway, attached is a copy of a letter I sent today to Arlen Specter. I have heard that he is one of the few fence sitters in the senate. Is that still true? Which way is he leaning? Could you e-mail me back? If he is truely an important swing vote I will attempt to collect signatures on a petition.

The Honorable Arlen Specter
United States Senate
303 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Specter;

I am writing to urge you to vote against the flag burning amendment.

My reasons for this are simple. This country was founded in the spirit of Voltaire's comment "I disagree with what you are saying, but I will fight to the death defending your right to say it." Make no mistake about it, this amendment is not about protecting the flag, it is about silencing people. Will it be used to prosecute those people who leave a flag flying in the rain? Of course not. It will only be used against those people who are disagreeing with the government, the very people that the first amendment is needed to protect.

The flag doesn't need protection. Heck, it's just a piece of cloth, and we can make a lot more pretty easily. This amendment would merely allow the government to jail people who insult the flag. Insults are to be illegal? What a travesty that would be.

I am offended by the proponents of the amendment saying that "people fought and died for that flag." They didn't: they fought for the country, for the ideals, for the freedom, yes, even the freedom to disagree with the government and to express it in a way that can not be missed. I recently read an article written by a Vietnam veteran and ex-POW. In it, he related that his interrogator showed him a picture of a flag burning back home as evidence that this showed his people didn't support him. His reply was that no, this just showed that the government of America was strong enough to tolerate freedom. Your vote can help us keep that freedom.

In closing, I quote Benjamin Franklin: "Those who are willing to give up freedom for temporary safety deserve neither." Help us keep our freedom, so that we can keep our safety too. Vote against the flag burning amendment.

John W Bourdon writes:

I'm new to the Internet. I just thought you'd like to know that I fully support your position. I do not advocate burning flags but I thought we lived in an enlightened, free country. With freedom comes responsibility.

Mark White writes:

I like your page. It shows a great deal of thought and your very real concern for our constitution. I feel I have the next best answer to this issue. I propose that congress deal with real problems that effect our country first.

David Atkinson (from Australia) writes:

Is this a return to the McCarthy period in America?
Surely you have better things to occuppy your legislators minds.

MManoil writes:

Beautiful work! I couldn't finish reading your mail because, fortunately, there are apparently a lot of people who agree with us that the proposed amendment to the Constitution would be a substantially more grave desecration of a national icon than any flag burned in protest. The protest (or "insult" if it is taken that way by certain offended people) hopefully makes a political or social point in community discourse; the liberty to conduct that discourse, not to mention have any dissenting thought, seems seriously imperiled by the proposal fundamental change to our country's supreme law. Nice to see your "Hyde Park" corner on the Net. Keep up the great work.

Richard Oelerich writes:

It is just a piece of cloth. Freedom of speech allows us to comment on our country and government without fear of persicusion(sp). Do not allow reactionary pols to muck up an elegent document with this tripe(appoligies(sp) to those who enjoy tripe).

David Brauer writes:

Warren...very funny political commentary! Wish my transfer speeds were faster so I could really watch it toast -- the only thing that makes me hotter is thinking how opportunistic politicians duck discussing the real problems in this country by wrapping themselves in this political asbestos.
Cyberprotest is cool.

Jim Grimes writes:

Thank you for your flag-burning page. Like you, I have no particular desire to burn the American Flag, or any other such icon. Perhaps unlike you, I have no patience with those who, with furrowed brow, salute the flag (or whatever) and proceed to use it to abrogate the freedoms of others. I my own not-very-humble opinion, there is a continuum of philosophy between flag-wavers, fascists, and Nazis.

This is not to say that all people who salute the flag are Nazis, or anywhere near. What I mean is that the emotions the Nazis started with were those of simple patriotism, which quickly spread to racism, and finally to atrocity and war. (BTW, lest any reader be offended,I am using Germany pre-WWII only as the outstanding recent example. Most countries have had similar periods to one degree or another.)

Well, why am I writing this? Perhaps because you and your pages of commentary from others have touched a sore point with me, though I couldn't explain why this is. At any rate, I find the proposed amendment to be much more than an attack on my civil rights as guaranteed by the rest of the Constitution. It is much more insidious: a potential first step on the road toward a nation of which I would no longer be proud - a nation in which thoughts are no longer safely spoken; symbols no longer safely displayed; opposition to government policies no longer tolerated - all in the name of mis- placed patriotism.

Again, thanks for your forum and its provocative opening.

rigatoni writes:

hello. i just looked through your flag-burning pages (and since i'm only on crappy lynx, i can't burn a flag *sniff* ), and everything you say is totally correct. but i just wanted to point out something that i find incredibly stupid...

before newt gingrich and co. got so outraged about people running around burning flags (as though this is some sort of every day occurence), it never even crossed my mind. flag-burning simply did not interest me much. now i'm still totally not interested in burning a flag, which seems to me to be a waste of time and a rather ineffectual means of protest. but, the mere fact that the idea has now been planted in my mind seems to me to indicate that som eother people might actually be prompted to carry out this "act of desecration" who otherwise would never have thought about it.

if the republicans (and democrats too i suppose) in congress were really concerned about the horrible atrocities of desecrating the national symbol, the best thing to do would be to shut up and stop wasting time arguing about such a non-issue. but they KNOW that it's the kin dof issue that gets semi-moronic flag-waving patriotic fools all fired up (since they can not understand the intricacies of more important issues).

so, i must conclude, that this whole ridiculous mess has nothing to do with flag-burning, as it really has to do with elections and popular support and demagoguery. so sad.
anyway, very nice page.

fri writes:

I support your position. I think the proposed cynical tinkering with the Constitution is despicable and shows that the Republicans are not true conservatives.

Rick Sterner writes:

What about the car lot that puts a flag on every American car on display? I think that if they're going to pass this law, they'd better make it illegal for all of the corporations to use the flag to peddle their crap to us. The flag wasn't designed to sell stuff!

How about all those ads for cellular phones, department stores and grocery stores with flags waving all over the page? Do I go to jail for burning the paper in my fireplace? Or when I crumple it up to clean my windows? Or when I use it to paper train my puppy?

Motoman writes:

well, you are very intelligent, and well versed...how lucky you are to live in the United States of America, where you can say these things and not get thrown in jail.

How sad for us all that our government has to waste our tax money on keeping idiots from burning the flag. Too bad the idiots aren't smart to figure that one out all on their own.

The real issue is why someone would want to burn the flag....

Our government wastes much too much money on trivial things, and much too much money on their inflated paychecks...but, I agree with this issue...no one should burn the flag, it should be made an arson felony, and the crime should be prison in Turkey! I am sure you, in all your open mindedness, can understand how they would be kissing the flag after one day in a Turkish prison.

Some people are so shallow...life is too short, burn wood for heat for the homeless, grow food, give money, if you want to burn the flag, get a life!

Warren Riemer writes:

I'm not an anarchist or a lunatic or even a hippie; just a relatively conservative 22-year-old Information Technology consultant. In view of this recent internet-censorship nonsense going on, it's important for every citizen to realize that the Internet really is the last medium with virtually unimpeded free-speech, and this is what makes it such a wonderful. Maybe this note is off-topic, but being able to burn the flag legally (and to be honest, I don't even recall if it is anymore - shows how uninformed I am) in a demonstration or in one's own living room is a statement. Whether one agrees with the statement or not, it's still a statement, and a harmless one. Once the government starts imposes regulations on statements of any sort, we're going to be in a lot of trouble.

tomas writes:

I want to congratulate you on the fine use of the Internet. I also happen to agree with your thoughts. I am most offended by the stores which now sell American Flag sweaters, shirts, ties, etc. They are not doing this for some "higher" or even "lower" but political purpose. Just for the Profit of it. So I really hope that our Congress gets the right\correct idea. Thanks for the great cite.

Robert Cyril Thomas (from Canada) writes:

This issue in your country is a demonstration of how a government, trying to act for the inherent good of its people, actually starts to step on the rights it put in its Constitution. This is due to "overgovernment". As we try to legislate ourselves into a perfect society, we push ourselves beyond reason into chaos as legislation begins to crush our(or your) inherent rights.
Burning a flag is a stupid gesture. Ultimatley, it hurts no one, but stirs patriotic fervor so blatant in the U.S. It is a personal attack to many Americans, and therefore the bill will be passed. Perhaps if Americans didn't take these gestures so personally, your rights wouldn't be trampled, and reason would prevail. However, as you are allowed to be whipped into patriotic frenzies by your government, it will continue to be so.

Marconi writes:

I checked out your flag burning page. Interesting. However... I cannot agree that burning a U.S. flag is speech protected by the first amendment. The Supreme Court erred in hearing the flag burning case as a First Amendment case. If burning a flag to make a point is "speech" then so is burning a cross. Yet the latter has been found not to be constitutionally protected. Howcum?

And if I am wrong and burning a U.S. flag is in fact "speech" then the act certainly would come under the supreme court's own definition of "fighting words" -- speech intended to incite and inflame passions. (Otherwise, why bother burning it?)

The bottom line is that I cannot agree that burning a U.S. flag is speech protected by the first amendment because I cannot agree that it is speech. It is just burning a flag. Period. Be that as it may, if government can ban the burning of leaves or refuse then they can certainly ban the burning of flags -- but not in the high-minded name of protecting a national symbol, blah, blah, blah.

In any case, thanks for your flag burning page. It will make people think -- and we need more of that.

Lisa Otey and David Matthew Wirth write:

The only thing that would lead me to want to burn the flag would be if my country were loony enough to ban the burning of the flag, since I think such an act (the banning, not the burning) does more to denigrate what the flag supposedly stands for than any act of physical vandalism. If my flag is burning, it is because my country lit the fire !

Steve Katsirubas writes:

It is really quite interesting to see how much suport you have for the issue, and the lack of people (or comments)for the proposed amendment measure. (coincidence?). The majority of the comments struck me as coming from people who never really, nor ever will understand the true meaning of the Flag of the United States of America. Including yourself.

Those of us that have served our country, the flag is a symbol of hope, life, and home. I can think of no prouder time than returning from the desert of Kuwait to see flag waving crowds, everyone rallying behind this symbol of our great nation, then given a minature version by a small child. I wonder how that small child would feel if I took a match to his gesture of good will.

I respect your intent to protect the right to free speech. But why promnote the desecration of our national symbol? I agree the car dealers and everyone else on the band wagon are just as misguided. Just because the flag doesn't mean as much to the likes of Diane Feinstein and co. (who by the way was quoted as saying "in the event of a draft, I would never my son serve"). I think that a symbol however trivial some might think, it obviously means something to the voters. Ask almost any person on the street, and they will probably tell you the same. A lot of people died serving under that flag, a little respect wouldn't hurt anyone. You and your small group of supporters need to take a long hard look at the direction this country is going in, and really think about how the stoppage of this amendement is really going to help matters. Ever seen the IWO JIMA memorial?? Quite a sight isn't it.

p.s. The proper way to burn a flag (if it has become old, worn, and unsightly) is to seperate the stars from the stripes and burn it as two separate items. Thus it is no longer a flag.

p.s.s As for the burying of people with flags, I can think of no item I would rather have clutched in my arms, than the Red, White and Blue. My reply

shane haley writes:

I will preface this letter by saying that I did not even bother to read your point of view. I represent the mindless responders who act before thinking. The point is I dont need to think to know that I wouldnt waste my time investigating the civil rights of defaming a symbol of something that represents a large piece of dirt segmented by the imaginaions and egos of legislators. You my foul friend however represent junior highschool sensless rebellion

proteios writes:

The House just passed the bill that will lead to the Flag-Desecration Amendment. (I know you know this) But, I m livid. I cannot believe they are desperate for things to do and problems to solve. I suppose they are going to try to have this FINAL ratification by states and congressmen right before the next election (96) in an attempt to make a Republican sweep. This just bugs that hell out of me. If they try, it will be with a fight (as you are doing) and also me and a friend have already figured we are going to burn ol Bessy one time before its an Amendment (We cant let this happen-this IS America after all. Freedom of expression was designed for responding to the govt, they are taking that away). Do you believe this?

Chris Overstreet writes:

After reading your webpage, I'm still not sure how burning our flag is somehow an expression under free speech.
Additionally, I don't see the connection between flag burning and giving laptops to the homeless.
If you are attempting to demonstrate what you consider to be absurdity by being absurd, you have failed. I consider our flag a symbol of our nation's honor and history, and don't find any humor in the subject.
People who would burn the flag, in my view, wouldn't mind burning other symbols of the nation, such as the original Old Glory, the Constitution, and federal buildings in Oklahoma.
Lest you think I'm aged and intractible: I'm 28 years old, and a white male who, in general, isn't angry.
I welcome any reply, and especially any answers to my first paragraph above.
My reply

Brian Thompson writes:

Once again the folks who want to "get government off our backs" are showing their true colors. Is censorship and repression the way to show our respect for a symbol of liberty? Is restricting our freedoms the way to foster pride in America? The Right makes a mockery of the very ideals they wish to defend! By wrapping themselves in the flag, conservatives have desecrated American values more diabolically than any flag-burner ever could...
"A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular."
--Adlai Stevenson

"The history of liberty is the history of resistance...[it is a] history of the limitation of governmental power."
--Woodrow Wilson

The Anti-Flag Burning Amendment is a refuge for hypocrites and cowards.

Jason F Cotter writes:

I must say that I oppose legal flag burning. I've heard the arguement that preventing flag burning is in dirrect violation of the first Ammendment and could lead to a dommino effect. Some even say that to protect a national symbol would resemble the tacts used my Hitler and the Nazis. I disagree. We have a representative democracy where the majority of the people want to protect the flag. The republicans in congress aren't abusing the first ammendment, the people of the United States choose to protect the flag that holds and preserves our ideals.
I will agree that the Ammendment currently under review isn't very specific, but it is the will of the people.

Scott L. Burson writes:

I'm another who would never dream of burning a flag... unless it gets outlawed.
One thing that comes to my mind is the Pledge of Allegiance we all said every day in school. (Do they still do this?) "I pledge allegiance to the flag..." Children are made to memorize this and repeat it daily for a reason. Indoctrination works; that's why it's done. So here we have millions of people who grew up pledging allegiance to this piece of cloth. No wonder they have trouble distinguishing the symbol from the reality! Personally, I think we should get rid of that stupid pledge, if we haven't already. Why do we need our children to pledge allegiance to anything? It's rather a medieval concept, if you ask me.
Nationalism of any form is a sickness, and the world will be a better place when it is eradicated.

David Smiler writes:

You feel that the right to burn our flag is yours, constitutionally, and you have erected this site to promote the desecration of the very symbol of democracy which affords you such liberties in the first place.
Not only is this page and your attitude a grand contradiction of all that is held sacred in this country, it is a profound irony and a symbol of your deceiptfulness that you feel even remotely justified in your actions.
May the Supremes (court, that is) reign heavily in your dreams, until you come to your senses. Love it or leave it, Jocko!!!!

Tom Polakis writes:

Good stuff. I agree with you, so no further back patting will be written here. One piece of information that would be nice to have is a summary of votes cast in the House and the expected votes in the Senate (as if I can't guess where our AZ senators stand on this one!).
Is this available from your page. Was I just unable to find it?
Editor's Note: I'm working on it - after several other such requests. It should be up soon

Connie Hutchins writes:

Thank you for the "guilt-free" animated version. I wanted to see it but couldn't bring myself to light the match. I agree that the legislation is ridiculous and highly dangerous and support the right of others to "light the match" should they feel the need. Even without this legislation, our right to make personal choices are being eroded day by day. Thanks again and keep the speeches coming as you find them.

pachcord writes:

I finally took a look at your flag-burning page. It's great!! I'm sure you get flamed 9 out of 10 times, especially living in this state! Maybe you should consider a page on wider subject matter like Congress' ideas on what should be prohibited on the net, or how 'bout a page defaming Arizona-grown fruit and vegetables - which our legislature thought was so important to prohibit. Anyway, thanks for focusing a spotlight on the Constitution and the first amendment. Burn, Baby, Burn!!

DoaneM writes:

Although I'm sure that you feel that you are doing a great service to the people of this country, Let me say that I, and many others, are sick and tired of people such as yourself who can find nothing better to do than to critisize such a wonderful government such as ours. I know that The system may have flaws, but Flagbuning is NOT the way to deal with them. By allowing people to desecrate a symbol that stands for the greatest country in the history of the world is sick and wrong.

Michael Dwinnells writes:

I was too young to fully grasp what was happening during the Vietnam war, being born in 1964. But, I do know this....for all its failings, this is still the best country to live in on this planet! We have an open and free society, we can disagree openly with our leaders; but I draw the line on flag burning! For every veteren, the flag was a symbol of America and MUCH more than a " piece of cloth "...much more. When any naval officer boards a ship, he/she looks to the stern, where the flag is, and salutes the flag. Why?...because that flag represents the United States of America...the country he/she is serving. Given this small example of how much the flag has come to represent, isn't a slap in the face of the United States to burn it? I think so and also it is a slap in the face to ALL men and women who served this country in wartime or peacetime. These brave men and women defended this country so that the same people who burn the flag and protest the government could have the opprotunity to live in freedom.

I think this country has soften it's stand about what is right and what is wrong..all in the name of individuals rights. While I don't want a totalitarian government, I think there needs to be lines drawn which no one can cross. Freedom is a function of government, how much a government will allow a citizen to do...it not some abstact concept where individuals can do as they please. The governemnt sets down guildlines as to what will be tolerated and what will not; much the same as a parent does with a child. We, in this country, have got to start realizing that there are things that you simply cannot do, such a burning a US flag...it will not be tolerated!

Chris Benoit writes:

Thank you for this web site!
I am currently writing a paper about the flag desecration amendment for English Comp and there is very little published info out there. Everyone's too interested in the OJ trial too worry about who's tampering with the constitution, I guess. This site has given me info that I thought I did not have easy access to.
Thanks again. (It was fun to virtually burn the flag, too)

Wintroub writes:

My take on this issue concerns the illegitimacy of some group of people (congressmen, the majority of Americans, etc.) getting to impose on everyone THEIR symbolic attachments. A given artifact can symbolize many quite different things. Does a beard symbolize radical political sentiments? To some, yes. To the rest of us, no. Does the Stars and Bars represent a commitment to enslaving and degrading blacks or to a fierce commitment to states' rights and opposition to the encroachments of central government? Does the Stars and Stripes represent courage, integrity, tolerance, honesty, fair-dealing? To some, yes. I wonder what it represents to old Apaches. Or to Vietnamese peasants 30+ years old. Or to Branch Davidians? Or to the unwilling subjects of government experiments with LSD or syphilis.

Roy Peters writes:

Valid points all, except regarding the argument that flagburning is protected under constitution. The proposed amendment would give back to the states (and the federal government) the right to make (and enforce) laws regarding the desecration of the flag. By amending the constitution, laws against flag burning would (by definition), no longer be unconstitutional.

And I feel certain that either by "jurisprudence", specific waivers contained in the laws, or by reasoned common sense, sun shades, fourth of july cakes, postage stamps, and decals on the back of cars would be (or become) exempt from prosecution.

Faded, no longer serviceable flags, are themselves burned. However, this "flagburning", because of its very necessity to keep the flag from becoming desecrated, is not an issue. The key factor is the preservation of the sanctity of the flag as a symbol of our country.

Notice that you asked for other instances that might become illegal if the "flagburning" amendment becomes law. I seriously doubt that the ceremonial burning of unservicable flags would ever be even remotely considered desecration. My reply

George J. Maggelet writes:

Once they take this form of political expression away, what will be next? I hope that this ridicilous amendment does not even come to a serious vote, but now that the New Facists(Republicans) have taken over, we are all in deep **it. I hope that the real american majority stands up during the next election to let our voice be heard. Freedom is on the line, and if we let the Right Wing take control of our government, and I emphasize OUR government, than we will all be sorry.

Ike Hall writes:

Well, I feel much better now. I have destroyed in effigy a symbol of our "Nation, under God". The symbolism is empty, but those legislators are honestly too stupid to realize that. Now to go out and make some constructive change!
Thanks for the great page, and keep fighting for justice and freedom.

Gerry Lancaster writes:

I do not agree with your stand at all. Thus, I am burning your page.

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