Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Flag Burning

What better day to post about flag burning than Independence Day. The day our small, little colonies decided to get together and cast off the heavy glove of King George.

Since the dawn of time, flags have had a patriotic value, are cheap to make, and easy to burn. Thus, flag burning as a form of protest came about. Quite simple, really, and oh so controversial. The house passed a constitutional amendment to bad flag burning, but the senate did not. Even if the senate passed it, fully three-fourths of the states would have also had to agree to it. It's not easy getting a constitution amendment passed, which might be the reason it's happened only about two dozen times in over 200 years since our independence. The first ten you can't really count since it was a requirement to get the colonies to agree to the constitution in the first place.

People have spent a lot of time, money, and effort trying to protect or ban flag burning as a right to free speech which I think is the biggest tragedy of all. Of all the problems in this world to get worked up about, of all the millions of people around the globe who are starving, sick with AIDS, or tortured for having an opinion about their government, why the hell would anyone spend two minutes worrying about whether someone else can burn a flag or not?

Let's say we did ban it. What then? People who are so upset at the government to burn the American flag probably aren't going to let a little civil disobedience stop them. Never has before--civil disobedience has been a very popular option over the years for those who wish to protest, and making it illegal would just give those guys another way to attract even more attention than before. I sure as heck don't want to PAY money to keep such hardened, flag-burning criminals in jail. And when push comes to shove, they'll still show their disrespect for our country. Perhaps they'll buy little figurines of an eagle and drive over them.

But banning the flag burning--where does it end? Should we outlaw all forms of protest that might be considered disrespectful to our national symbols? What if we want to throw an anti-war protest and include a burning effigy of President Bush? After all, he's the face of the American government at the moment, and protesting him or anything he does could be considered anti-American.

Now, I'm not a flag burner myself. I'm pretty fond of this country I live in--despite the terrible things this country has done in the past from allowing slavery to the near extinction of the Native Americans. I don't know about the rest of you, but it seems to me that they've earned the right to burn the American flag in spades for the way we've treated them.

What if the shoe were on the other foot? What if you lived in Cuba and Castro decided to make flag burning illegal? Would that be terribly bad? Ruthless dictatorships don't really deserve much respect, in my humble opinion. The irony, of course, is they can ban flag burning far more easily than a free country such as ourselves.

If you don't like flag burning--try something new. Ignore them. Don't give those people the time of day and when they realize their message isn't getting across, they'll stop and do something else.

1 comment:

W&MGrad said...

Yeah...great post! You see, Flag Burning is, actually, already protected by the first amendment so having ANOTHER amendment to disallow it is not only problematic, but is also a very nasty precedent.

Here's my theory. Frankly, I don't like seeing our flag burnt and while our government has and is doing a number of things I really don't agree with, I still love my country and am very proud to be an American. When someone burns a flag (or protests in a public place or publishes insulting cartoons--you name it), instead of getting into a war of words about it...just ignore them. What they really want is attention for whatever issue and getting into a fight with them over it immediately makes them a winner. But, if you ignore them (until they behave in a more calm, mature manner), they'll either go away or change their ways.