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Reply to Zeke

I'm really sorry you feel the way you do. Let me make you an offer, though. I understand that you don't want to engage in a debate with me, and that's fine. I'll go ahead and add your response to the comments page, so that the world can see what type of criticism I face. Let me warn you about that, though.

You didn't give me any reason as to why you disagreed with me. You went so far as to explicitly say that you would not give any reason. You discuss your military career (which I will get to later), but you don't show how that relates in any way to the issue at hand.

The one point that you do make, however, is that you will counter any attempt at making a point with physical violence. While I fully believe that you mean what you say, I'd like you to read what you wrote and think about it very carefully for a while. Do you really want the people of the world to think that you feel this way? Is this the kind of example you want to set for your fellow military personell?

Let me summarize your position (and give possible interpretations many people may walk away with):

1. You will not debate this point. Most likely, because you realize that there are no logical reasons to hold your views. Your reasoning is based solely on emotional feeling, not on logic or sound thought. If you had any real reason to feel the way you do, you would probably not mind discussing it, since you may change other people's minds.

2. Although you will not logically discuss this issue, you are more than ready to tattoo the offender with the closest object you can get your hands on. I'm not exactly sure what this means, but I'm pretty sure it is a threat of physical violence. First, let me remind you that threats of bodily harm have never been protected by the First Amendment. People who would rather inflict bodily harm than rationally discuss their feelings are generally viewed as irrational and dangerous in our society. So are people who threaten violence regardless of the legal propriety of that act.

3. You make enough references to Christianity that I am inclined to assume that you are a Christian. Please don't tell me that you can't see the irony in that. Christ did not recommend tattooing people with whom one disagrees. I think you will offend many of your fellow Christians with your diatribe.

4. You refer to your military experience, which I respect. My father proudly served in the USAF for over 20 years. However, I don't think that the official position of the United States Armed Forces is that the enemy is within our borders. You really make it seem like we should use military force against our own people in order to enforce American Patriotism. I think that's more than a little scary, and I think lots of people will agree with me on that. I also question whether your tour of submarine duty was actually to protect America from leftists like myself. Neither I nor anyone who thinks like me pose any threat at all to America. Believe that. People who believe that the Navy should direct its firepower against America's own citizens are a much greater threat than I am. Trust me.

Please feel free to write back with some logical thought. I really hope you choose to engage me in a debate. Perhaps you can convince, if not me, at least some of my readers.

To give you a starting point, let me ask you some questions:

1. If someone was (legally) burning a US Flag, and you assaulted them, causing serious bodily injury or death, would you be willing to go to jail for your actions?

2. Would you support the rights of a group of anti-military protestors to engage in a peaceful assembly outside the Naval base at which you are stationed? Assume that this assembly included chanting slogans, carrying signs, singing folk music, and holding hands - and assume that they are carrying out this demonstration on public property, outside the boundary of the base. If an order was given for you to open fire on this group, would you accept the order and turn your weapons on your own people? Would your answer to that last question be any different if a member of that group was (in your opinion) desecrating the American Flag?

3. Assuming that you believe people who burn the US Flag should be imprisoned, please give a list of all other anti-American acts which should be punished by imprisonment. For example, would you support laws imprisoning people doing any (or all) of the following acts?
a. Writing newspaper editorials critical of the US Government
b. Writing musical lyrics critical of the US Government
c. Desecrating other symbols of the United States for example:
1. Pictures of Bald Eagles
2. Government (US or State) Seals
3. Military Uniforms
4. Road Maps of the US If not, please explain the underlying differences between flag desecration and the above acts.

Please write back. I don't want my readers thinking that your first letter really reflects your views, the views of the US military, or the Catholic Church.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Zeke's Reply

I read your note and instead of enraging me, it only left me feeling hollow. You are void of love for this nation, and I am heavy with fatigue supporting the vacuousness of your claims and your perverted logic. There are things in this world you do not do; you do not desecrate Jesus Christ by putting the crucifix in urine and call it art as Robert Mapelthorpe did several years ago; you do not impugn the dignity of life by murdering fetuses under the guise of freedom of choice; you do not print lies about people in the paper under the guise of freedom of the press; you do not stick a gun in someones face just because you have the right to bear arms; you do not burn the flag and call it freedom of expression, speech, etc. Everyday in America babies are murdered, lies are printed, people are shot, national symbols are disgraced and what do we have? We have a nation under seige because in the name of "Fairness" all self imposed limits of restraint have been removed. Sure, you can print crap in the newspaper, vaccum a fetus out of a woman, torch a flag. And what do you have when it is all done? Only shame. Success is not doing what you should not do, and it is also doing what you should do. As far as your questions go, here are my answers.
1. If I see you burning a flag, and I catch you, I will hurt you. I will risk incarceration.
2. If I was still in the military and my Commanding Officer ordered me to shoot you, I would. I wouldn't disobey the directive.
3. I don't know any road maps that are national symbols so you may tear up a map. Presently if you shoot a Bald Eagle you're doomed for the jailhouse so that's good. Here is something to ponder: Blacks used to be slaves, women were not allowed to vote when the constitution was written; there was no taxation. Times have changed and because of these changes the Constitution was indeed ammended.
1. the blacks are free
2. Women may vote
3. Taxes are levied
These changes were supported, voted on, and ratified by the people. Revolutions take time. I am hopeful that people of your bent will be destroyed before all you compassion fascists in the name of touchy feely, do-good liberalism destroy this country. My views are as naked and unshameful as Adam was standing in the Garden. The only reason we are all still not there is because of a snake, a snake that hissed much like you do today.

Erik B. Vorhes has a comment:

Dear Zeke:
I mean no disrespect in what I am about to write. Each person is entitled to his or her own views. I am simply going to question some of them.

When you wrote "If I was still in the military and my Commanding Officer ordered me to shoot you, I would. I wouldn't disobey the directive," did you realize the impact of previous statements to the same effect? During World War II, soldiers in the German army blindly followed orders, resulting in the death of approximately six million Jews. Would you want to be considered to be of the same mentality as Nazi soldiers? I certainly would not want to be associated with that hate-mongering group. If your C. O. ordered you to shoot some anonymous person that happened to be walking down the street, and your C. O. gave no justification as to why he wanted the person shot, would you do it? Would you feel justified in your action? It is views like yours that make this world more dangerous, not the thoughts of those that wish to preserve liberty.

Liberty can be viewed as one doing whatever one wants, as long as that person does not harm one's self or other people. Therefore, the burning of a flag does not harm anyone, unless someone happened to be lit on fire because of the flag-burning. Liberty is a universal concept, not a liberal one.

This brings me to a second topic. You really need to refresh your memory on the subject of the political spectrum. On the far left are the radicals (Communists, etc.). Between the far left and the middle are the liberals (socialists, most environmentalists, etc.). In the middle are the moderates (the majority of the American people). Between the far right and the middle are the conservatives (many Republicans, etc.). On the far right are the reactionaries (fascists, Nazis, etc.). By this, the standard political spectrum, your calling liberals "compassion fascists" is quite skewed. It is an oxymoron for two reasons. First of all, liberals and fascists lie nowhere near each other on the political spectrum (a combination of a liberal and a fascist would create someone that would most likely lie between the moderates and the conservatives). Second, the very statement "compassion fascists" is an oxymoron; fascists have never shown compassion, except to those that also follow their beliefs. Be careful of what you say, Zeke.

Thank you for your time. I hope that my letter spurs you into thourough research of the Nazis, so that you can find more out about those groups that represent some of the views that you have stated. Let me be clear: I am NOT calling you a Nazi, I am merely finding a corrolation between what you wrote and what some of their practices were. Have a good day!

Paul D. Bunge has a comment:

I am a 1987 graduate of the US Naval Academy. I recently completed over eight years of service as an officer in the Navy, primarily as an A-6 Intruder bombardier/navigator. I still serve as a Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve here in Minneapolis while I attend law school. Over a dozen of my friends and acquaintances were killed in miliary service. What did they die for? What did I serve for? We did not serve and devote a part of our lives to the defense of the flag itself. What we served for is the defense of the freedom and ideals the flag symbolizes. The oath of every servicemember is "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States." I respect the flag. You will never find me burning one. But I respect the Constitution even more. Flagburners are fringe players who fade away because no one listens to them. Burning the flag is, for them, a final deparate act to be recognized. Usually, the only recognition they get is a result of publicity generated by their arrest and trial, which is far more attention that they ever deserved or received previously. The fact that researchers can only dig up 50 or so instances of flag burning in the last 200 years is proof enough that this is a complete non-issue.

The real desecration being done today in this country is by the politicians in Congress and the states who have shamelessly wrapped themselves in the flag to generate publicity and votes for themselves. The flag deserves better than that. The flag and the flagpole from which it flies stand today upon the firm foundation of the timeless principles of the Constitution: freedom, liberty, equality. To support the proposed amendment is to chip away at those principles, and to erode the very foundation upon which the flag stands as a symbol. Tolerance of such erosion means only that the flag will not fly for long.

I was particularly disappointed by the rantings of "Zeke" which you reprinted in the comments portion of your page. Please let me assure you that while others in the Navy and other branches of the military may share his misguided beliefs, he certainly does not speak for me, or, I hope, a majority of the fine men and women serving today.

Warren S. Apel