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Reply to Jan Bogue

I think you'll find that we actually think alike in many ways.

> I believe in Free Speech, the Constitution, etc.
>After all, that is one of the things that Aggies fight for when they
>defend their country and others. However, in believing in the
>Constitution, one must also protect the icons that stand for all of the
>freedoms that we have in the US. One of those icons happens to be the
>US flag.
>My belief is that when you burn that icon, (Uncle Sam, the flag, any
>other US symbol), you in essence are saying
>"screw you" to the US. We must remember that if we don't like what the
>government officials are doing in office, we either run for office
>ourselves, or we elect someone who does support our views.
First, let me say that I have run for office. I ran for Mayor of Tempe in March 1992, and came in 2nd out of 3 candidates. The winner, Harry Mitchell (a man whom I respect and admire) had, at that time, been in office since I was 4 years old. I did get 1,411 votes, which was a fairly respectable number. I won't bore you with the details of my platform, but I agree with you. If you don't like something that's going on in America, change it. Work to change it. Vote in EVERY election. Otherwise, you have no right to complain.

Also, I'm not a flag-burner. I've never burned a flag in my life. I'm an Eagle Scout. My father is a retired USAF Major. I respect the flag. But, I also respect the Constitution. The problem I have right now is that Congress is attempting to alter the first amendment to get around the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld flag-burning as freedom of expression.

Flag burning may be disagreeable. Even abhorrent. But we must protect the rights of people to express their views, even if those views are opposite ours. As Ted Kennedy said "The concept of free and open debate is the cornerstone of our democracy. If the government can censor its critics, then the ideal of free debate becomes an empty promise."

I'm not out to destory the flag, or to say "screw you" to America. I'm trying to protect the Constitution from the swollen tides of public outrage. If I have to illustrate my point with a graphically edited photo of the flag burning, I will.

Also, flag desecration is not a physical act - it is a mental one. People desecrate the flag daily without knowing it. I own a pair of socks with a U.S. Flag pattern that I sweat in. No one would dream of arresting me for that. Flag-patterned clothes were quite in style during the Gulf War. It is only when the flag desecrator is making an anti-governmental protest with his actions do they come under fire. Thus, it is the thought process, not the action itself which is being made illegal. Living in a country where one can be arrested for ones thoughts is a pretty scary concept.

If it helps, I'm 25 years old. I've been politcally active my whole life. I was registered to vote at 17. (You can register before you turn 18, at least in AZ, if the next election is after your birthday.) I've voted in every election since I turned 18, including school bonds and city primaries. I've participated in televised debates. I was asked by the Tempe Tribune to be part of a Citizen's Review Board critiqueing the last City election.

I also protested the last time this vote came up. I was only 20 then. If I would have had Internet access then, I would have done the same thing.

Hope this helps you understand my point of view.

Hook 'em Horns!

Jan Bogue replies:

I think that our ten year age difference may be part of the reason that I see things from another viewpoint.

You see, I can remember during the Viet Nam war when many college students burned flags regularly and in public. It always bothered me then. Once I even got a pair of jeans as a gift. On the rear pocket was a patch of the US Flag. I took off the patch and put it on my bulletin board in my bedroom, b/c I didn't want to "sit" on the flag. This was not something that my parents said to do. It was just me. I come from a family in which most of the men and quite a few of the women were in the military. I have always been proud of the fact that I had uncles that fought in WW2, Korea, Nam, etc. Maybe that is why I am so opinionated about it.

I also think that even the mental act of burning the flag might as well symbolize burning your freedoms...

Oh well, maybe in ten years you may change your mind. Or maybe you won't. Hopefully, though, in ten years, we will still have the same freedoms to say what our minds think... whether it is what everyone wants to hear or not.
By the way... I'm sorry that you like the longhorns... maybe one day you'll change your mind on that one, too. ...

My reply:

Hopefully, I'll still feel the way I do in ten years. Although, looking back at what an idiot I was at 15, maybe I'll change my mind:)

You know, my mom had an American flag patch on her jeans that her parents made her take off. They didn't like the disrespect that it showed to the flag.

(Hopefully I have the story right. My mom surfs the net, so if this happened to a friend of hers, and not her, I'll hear about it.)

She replaced the flag patch with a Russian one. Her parents were upset by that, too, since it showed allegience to the enemy. It wasn't disrespectful to treat their flag that way.

An interesting point to think about.

Note: I heard from my Mom about this one. It wasn't actually her that this happened to. It was just a story going around at the time. Oops.

Warren S. Apel