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Dear Mr. Finley:
Rather than attempt to prove by myself that my family respects my decision to protest the government in this fashion, I am enclosing a copy of an email my parents sent this morning:
I just spent a long time in discussion with all the guys at work about your "Flag Burning" issue. They reacted like most people - shocked and angry that you would promote the burning of flags. When I had them read the letter that explained the proposed constitutional ammendment and your purpose for writing your letter, they all agreed with you.
People should be very careful about jumping to conclusions before reading your views. I agree with everything you said.
I want to tell you how proud Dad and I are of you. I am always talking about you and how you turned out to be such a wonderful kid. You make us very happy. So many people spend their lives in front of the tv and don't think for themselves. You, however, have always been aware of what is happening in the political world, both local and nationally. Not only are you interested, but you voice your opinion. Keep it up!
Mom and Dad
As you can see, not only are my parents not shamed or embarrassed, they support and respect me and my actions. Even when my political views differ from my parents, they completely support my right to express them.
If you wouldn't mind, I would like an opportunity to try and explain my beliefs to your son, Derek.
It must be hard to understand why an American would want to burn his country's flag. I'm not sure if I would have understood this whole thing when I was your age.
You may be thinking, "If he hates America so much, why doesn't he leave?" I would understand if you thought that. What I want you to know is that I don't hate America. I love America. I love America because in America we are free to say what we think.
In some countries, people who speak out against the Government are put in jail or killed. When America was founded, some very smart people wrote what we call the Constitution. They wanted to make sure that the Government would never take away our freedoms. When they wrote the Constitution, they made sure to say in it that no laws were ever made that would take away our freedoms as Americans.
They also made sure that there would be a group of smart people who would make sure that no laws ever took away those freedoms. They called these people the Supreme Court. For two hundred years, the Supreme Court has compared the laws our Government passes against the Constitution to make sure that our freedoms don't get taken away.
When you were very young, in 1989, a man was arrested for burning a U.S. Flag. I don't know why he did it, but he was put in jail for it. The Supreme Court said the law was wrong. They said that in America, you are free to express your opinions, even if that opinion is against America.
Not all of the people in Congress were happy with that. Some of them wanted flag burning to be against the law, no matter what the Supreme Court said. Just a little while ago, they decided that what they had to do was change the Constitution so that the Supreme Court wouldn't be able to stop them from passing laws to take away our freedom.
That makes me afraid. I don't want to live in a country where you have to be afraid of what you say. I don't want to be arrested just for the way I think. I want everybody to know about what Congress is doing. And the best way I know how to do that is on the Internet.
Not everybody agrees with what I do. Some people think that burning a flag is so bad that it should be against the law. I am happy that we are in a country where everybody can have their own opinions, even if I don't agree with them.
You don't have to agree with me. But I want you to understand me. I want you to know why I am showing a picture of a burning flag. Please don't think I hate America -- I don't.
If you still don't exactly understand, that's OK. You can send me an email with any questions, and I promise I will answer them.