July 1, 2006

The Mainstreaming of Flag Burning

There's been plenty of chit and more than a lot of chat in the last week over Congress and the Burning of the American Flag.

What strikes me about the whole debate that swirls about this issue is not whether it should be legal or illegal, but the over-riding tone of, 'One way or another, who really cares?'

Obviously, there are plenty of people who do care and I count myself as one, although I am late to the party. Still, what bothers me is the "deja vu" of it all, the "Been There. Done That. Have the T-shirt" level of the commentary. It is as if the whole thing is now relegated to the "Old Argument" bin of the American dispute factory.

Today, should you happen to come across a group that sets itself up to burning the flag, what you are likely to have is not a fist-fight but an argument -- if indeed you don't just shrug and pass it by.

What this means is that, regardless of the state of the law on this issue, it has become pretty much OK to burn an American flag at will with no immediate consequences. It has been effectively mainstreamed by being argued to death.

This ability to simply wear out the opposition through endless litigation is the "nuke" of the left. It seems that we have become so convinced that the way to solve our disputes is through litigation rather than confrontation that all things can be "allowed" to happen with no immediate consequences. Instead, really awful behavior becomes the excuse for really awful litigation. And that's it.

How long this ACLUing of America will hold is difficult to predict, but when you see a report on a flag-burning that ends in fist-fight that will probably signal that joke time is over in America.

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Posted by Vanderleun at July 1, 2006 6:56 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Isn't the purpose of an outrage to outrage? What good is an outrage that does not outrage? What good is trying to get society's attention, when society won't pay attention?

It's old. Burning a flag doesn't hurt America. America goes on. We're more than flags, patriotic songs, and pledges. All that can help us affirm our Americaness, but they don't make us Americans. We do.

We're not Americans because of what we believe, what views we express, how we dress, or what shows we watch. We're Americans because of who we are. Mormon missionary or vampire goth, we are Americans. It's the way we hold ourselves, the way we walk. It's the open, natural courtesy of free men and women. For we treat everyone we meet, regardless of ethnic group or nationality, as people worthy of respect. As worthy as us.

It has been said of us that Americans walk like free men. That we do, because we are free men.

Our flag is a nice symbol of this country, but it's not America. We are America, and there is nothing anyone can do to change that.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at July 1, 2006 7:31 AM

Being American is also the institutions and traditions we respect. The 10 Commandments should rule whether you are a Christian or not, they are good rules. Respect for national symbols should be the norm. Instead what we have allowed is everything, which means that we respect nothing, as a nation. Or the 'respect' is just empty rhetoric.

The next time I see someone burn a flag, it ends in a knife fight or gun fight. The time for tolerating this disrespect for our institutions is past.


The Hobo

Posted by: Robohobo at July 1, 2006 9:54 AM

Who needs an amendment? If burning a flag is speech, it must be legal to rebut the flag burner with a flame thrower. Problem solved. As they say, the answer to bad fire is more fire.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at July 1, 2006 10:12 AM

I don't support flag burning or flag burners. I don't support an amemdment to ban either. I suppose that flag burning is an obnoxious form of political speech.

On the other hand, I recognize that there are vast portions of America where battery is also a respected and much honored form of political speech. Said another way, througout much of this great nation, flag burners will have hell kicked out of them, even if it means a night in the slammer.

I'm not advocating battery--it's just an observation.

Posted by: Old Dad at July 1, 2006 11:30 AM


On our way out from breakfast this morning, we saw a great bumpersticker affixed to the back of the toolbed on a plumbing truck:

"Go ahead and burn our flag. Just wrap yourself in it first, o.k.?"

That was right under the Special Forces flash decal.

Pretty well sums up how I feel about it, too.

Posted by: TmjUtah at July 1, 2006 3:16 PM

Just in case any of Gerard's readers haven't seen it, here is a link to a page that contains a tribute to Rick Monday's great play on April 25, 1976. The page includes a link to the MLB video of Monday's rescuing an American flag from two would-be arsonists: http://www.danzfamily.com/archives/2006/04/rick_monday_sav.php

Posted by: Connecticut Yankee at July 1, 2006 3:57 PM

The flag of this great nation in the icon that symbolizes who and what we are as free citizens of the greatest nation that has cast its shadow on the history of mankind. Destroy the icon and we could give up what it means to be citizens of this great nation.

When I took the oath to protect and defend this nation it was that icon (the flag) that I saw in my mind-eye. Who of you who have taken that oath have not had the same vision?

Posted by: ChiefTestPilot at July 1, 2006 5:32 PM

When I see the American flag, I think of those who have fought and died protecting our liberties.
Old glory is much more than a symbol or icon to me.

Posted by: Ben USN (Ret) at July 2, 2006 5:37 AM

I am reminded of an amendment to law according to the book of Esther. They may attempt to speak by burning the flag, but those offended may speak by stopping them from doing so, thus defending the flag.

Posted by: Dixie Dodd at July 2, 2006 10:06 AM


I hope I can wait that long. It's overdue.

Posted by: Old Guy at July 2, 2006 6:43 PM
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