House approves flag-burning amendment

  • #51
russ_watters
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faust9 said:
Ah, the second sensible conservative sounds off on the issue. First Kat and now Russ; moreover inclusion of the Simpsons into any argument is always a boon. Those in support of limiting free speech take heed of Russ's sound words.
If you like that, check the "Commander in Chief" thread for South Park politics.
 
  • #52
russ_watters
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honestrosewater said:
If you think that's funny, imagine banning the symbol of free speech from being used in protest.
Yes, that is the other side of the coin - almost equally ironic. I say almost because while I can see the argument for flag burning being hate speech or inciteful, that isn't the stated purpose of the Amendment. The Amendment is about protecting the symbol itself.

And I'm sorry, this is kinda ot, but while checking on that fact, I found THIS little gem:
Senate Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Ken Salazar of Colorado have never voted on the issue, but each stated positions in their campaigns. During her 2000 race, Clinton said she opposed a flag amendment. On Wednesday, she repeated her opposition but endorsed legislation to outlaw desecration.
In case I needed to be reminded why I so dislike Hillary... :rolleyes:
 
  • #53
honestrosewater
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russ_watters said:
Yes, that is the other side of the coin - almost equally ironic. I say almost because while I can see the argument for flag burning being hate speech or inciteful, that isn't the stated purpose of the Amendment.
But burning a flag can have different meanings. Just contrast it with burning the Constitution.
The Amendment is about protecting the symbol itself.
Only you cannot protect the symbol of free speech from free speech. It wouldn't be the symbol of free speech anymore.
Do you really think this is a good or even reasonable idea? The amendment doesn't create rights for anyone and takes away rights that we currently have. So right there- what is the purpose? And they need an amendment because what they're trying to outlaw is a right currently guaranteed to every US citizen by the Constitution.

While they're at it, why not add the Constitution to the list? No desecrating the Constitution. That would make just as much sense. Oh, any other law also. Any piece of paper on which a law is written. And no saying things others disapprove of either. In fact, no protesting at all unless you register and pay for a permit- and are approved, of course. :rolleyes:
 
  • #54
Art
honestrosewater said:
And no saying things others disapprove of either. In fact, no protesting at all unless you register and pay for a permit- and are approved, of course. :rolleyes:
It has already been done before to silence Vietnam protesters
President Johnson and later Nixon combated the picketers through a variety of legal and illegal harassment, including limiting their numbers in certain venues and demanding letter-perfect permits for every activity.
http://www.cyberessays.com/History/168.htm
 
  • #55
honestrosewater said:
If you think that's funny, imagine banning the symbol of free speech from being used in protest.
Kudos to you. I've never seen an argument destroyed in so few, calmly spoken words.
 
  • #56
SOS2008
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More from the source I provided earlier, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8317765/ [Broken]

Let's put what Hillary said back into correct context:
Late Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., a possible presidential candidate in 2008, revealed that she would vote against the measure. "As I have said in the past, I support federal legislation that would outlaw flag desecration, much like laws that currently prohibit the burning of crosses, but I don't believe a constitutional amendment is the answer," she said in a statement.
The article continues:

The House debate fell along familiar lines over whether the amendment strengthened the Constitution or ran afoul of its free-speech protections.

Supporters said there was more public support than ever because of emotions following the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. They said detractors are out of touch with public sentiment.
What are the "familiar lines" and is the public now in favor of having their rights restricted because of more knee-jerk reaction to 9-11? To repeat:

The amendment's supporters expressed optimism that a Republican gain of four seats in last November's election could produce the two-thirds approval needed in the Senate as well after four failed attempts since 1989.
The "familiar lines" means Republicans, and since they have been trying to pass this amendment since 1989 (before 9-11), this isn't really about the 2001 terrorist attacks. It's not only an attempt to mess with the constitution, it's fascist:

1) Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
2) Disdain for the importance of human rights - individuals as individuals have no rights, and the People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will (so-called public sentiment)
3) Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause (terrorists)

Personally I would never burn the flag, but I believe the right to do so must be preserved per the constitution and freedom of speech. More importantly, I am never in favor of altering the constitution for any reason, and these Republicans who keep pushing for amendments of any kind need to be removed.
 
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  • #57
honestrosewater
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Has anyone been able to find a recent (2004-05) poll other than the one I posted (http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=15418 [Broken]), which says 63% oppose the flag-burning amendment? Someone mentioned a new gallup poll, but the only one I could find was from 1999 (http://www.gallup.com/poll/content/login.aspx?ci=3739 [Broken]), which says 63% favor.
 
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  • #58
Moonbear
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First, I think this amendment is wrong. I don't understand what message people think they are sending when they burn the flag, it truly makes no sense to me, but I find it well within their rights to do so, and the Supreme Court has agreed in overturning state laws against it.

Of course, if they do so in a way that presents a public danger (not an adequate distance from buildings or other people to prevent risk of the fire spreading or injury to people in the crowd), then there are other reasons it would be illegal, not because it's the flag, but because setting fire to anything in a crowd seems stupid. But, that's not the purpose of this amendment, and doesn't require an amendment.

As for the parallel theme in this thread on burning the Constitution, certainly burning the original would be a crime simply for having destroyed an historical document. However, what is important are the words in the Constitution, the rights it upholds. If a tragic fire (not even by an act of a protester) resulted in the destruction of the original, the rights are still codified and documented and copies of their wording are abundant. Of course, if a protester wanted to take a piece of paper with the words of the US Constitution written on it and symbolically burn that, I again wouldn't understand their message (well, I suppose they could burn it to symbolically represent that it has been destroyed by whatever they are protesting; saying it's as good as toast due to whatever action they are protesting...burning stuff just makes it more likely your message will wind up on the front page of the newspaper rather than buried on page 12), but it would be within their rights to symbolically burn it.

I think it's more important to defend the rights of the people than the symbol of those rights. Symbols come and go, but it's the rights that are meant to be lasting and are the real foundation of the freedom the U.S. is supposed to be about. Too many of those rights are already being chipped away by those who have lost sight of the big picture, and while this one may be spearheaded by the GOP, they are certainly not alone in slowly chipping away at the rights we are supposed to have.
 
  • #59
russ_watters
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honestrosewater said:
But burning a flag can have different meanings. Just contrast it with burning the Constitution.
Yes, that's true.
Only you cannot protect the symbol of free speech from free speech. It wouldn't be the symbol of free speech anymore.
Yes, that makes the amendment essentially self-contradictory.
Do you really think this is a good or even reasonable idea?
No, I don't. I'm kinda confused here: you do see that I'm against the amendment, right?
 
  • #60
faust9 said:
Ah, the second sensible conservative sounds off on the issue. First Kat and now Russ; moreover inclusion of the Simpsons into any argument is always a boon. Those in support of limiting free speech take heed of Russ's sound words.
Am I not sensible simply because I do not like your argument? Perhaps it's odd but I'm more critical of people arguing for something I believe in than those arguing against. If the majority of people arguing along side me for something I believe in do a poor job of it it only tends to weaken my argument in the eyes of others.

Russ said:
I'm against an amendment or law banning flag burning, but for a different reason than most: flag burning is the ultimate in hypocrisy and I love it when American citizens (generally hippies) do it.
As stated before it's symbolic. The Constitution itself, or more particularly the 1st amendment, is the symbol of our freedom of speech. The flag is a symbol of our country as a whole. You can argue that it to some degree represents the constitution but really there is much more to it than that. The flag itself certainly is not the embodiment of freespeech, that is just one of the things that it is supposed to represent. It directly embodies this country and it's government and if the government is not living up to what it is supposed to be, according to the constitution, then I can see the burning of the flag being a logical symbolic show of disapproval. It may make more sense if the burner(s) were to hold up a copy of the constitution in contrast to the burning of the flag.
Either way I think that the act most often is an aggresive provoking act and that the offenders, depending on the situation, ought to be arrested for inciting a disturbance. And I'll emphasize depending on the situation. Such things are still likely to be abused though.
 
  • #61
faust9 said:
Flags do not define societies. Social codes do. The constitution is the enumeration of the supreme social rights. You have the RIGHT to remain silent. If that was not written down somewhere you would not have that right---at least not in all courts. The flag does not enumerate your rights. Your right in that the people enumerate your rights but if these rights were not written down then there would be zero guarantee that you'd have a right in Florida and in Wyoming. What right does the flag itself give you in Wyoming? How does the flag prevent you from being locked up for years and years? The enumerated rights in the constitution prevent you from being interned.

Talking to you two is like talking to a wall. You refuse to see the difference between enumerated law and a red/white/blue cloth. The flag affords you no protections. Enumerated laws are the only protections you have. Well, I guess if you put a flag on a pike you could protect yourself for a few minutes.
You know I was recently made aware that the Contitution of the Soviet Union included a clause granting citizens freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Do you think that the citizens really had those freedoms in practice? Do you think they felt much better because a piece of paper existed stating that they had those rights?
 
  • #62
GENIERE
Originally Posted by faust9
Flags do not define societies. Social codes do. The constitution is the enumeration of the supreme social rights. You have the RIGHT to remain silent. If that was not written down somewhere you would not have that right---at least not in all courts. The flag does not enumerate your rights. Your right in that the people enumerate your rights but if these rights were not written down then there would be zero guarantee that you'd have a right in Florida and in Wyoming. What right does the flag itself give you in Wyoming? How does the flag prevent you from being locked up for years and years? The enumerated rights in the constitution prevent you from being interned.

Talking to you two is like talking to a wall. You refuse to see the difference between enumerated law and a red/white/blue cloth. The flag affords you no protections. Enumerated laws are the only protections you have. Well, I guess if you put a flag on a pike you could protect yourself for a few minutes.

Faust9 is incorrect. The framers of the US Constitution saw no need to enumerate the rights of the citizens and they specifically did NOT in the non-amended text. Rights of the individual were considered fundamental. Madison and Jefferson were among the principles that demanded a “Bill of Rights” fearing the states and the individuals were given short shrift. The Bill of Rights codifies a few rights of the states and the individual. It is the 9th amendment that refers to the fundamental rights that all persons possess whether “written down” or not.

...
 
  • #63
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this is just a silly argument. if someone wants to burn a flag, i say go for it. whether i agree with what they say/do or not, they're not causing harm to other people, so i wouldn't try to do anything about it. i would probably never burn a flag, but that doesn't mean someone else shouldn't if they want to. unless it's the yankee swastika, then of course everyone should bow down in reverent awe & people who think about burning it should be sent to room 101. :tongue2:
 
  • #64
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Our Declaration of Independence states that people have the right to alter or abolish any form of government that becomes destructive, and yet the House is trying to ammend the constitution so that you can't symbolically protest the government?
 
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  • #65
SOS2008
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wasteofo2 said:
Our Declaration of Independence states that people have the right to alter or abolish any form of government that becomes destructive, and yet the House is trying to ammend the constitution so that you can't symbolically protest the government?
That's right, and it was passed 286-130 in the House. What does this tell you about the direction of our government?
 
  • #66
russ_watters
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TheStatutoryApe said:
Either way I think that the act most often is an aggresive provoking act and that the offenders, depending on the situation, ought to be arrested for inciting a disturbance. And I'll emphasize depending on the situation. Such things are still likely to be abused though.
Frankly, I get the idea that most people (today) do it just for the sake of getting arrested - they don't have a clear purpose beyond that (perhaps that's what you meant).
You know I was recently made aware that the Contitution of the Soviet Union included a clause granting citizens freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Do you think that the citizens really had those freedoms in practice? Do you think they felt much better because a piece of paper existed stating that they had those rights?
I didn't know that, but it doesn't surprise me. Such countries are masters at saying one thing and doing another. But in the west, such things as the Bill of Rights really do have teeth.
GENIERE said:
The framers of the US Constitution saw no need to enumerate the rights of the citizens and they specifically did NOT in the non-amended text.
Yes, that's true and for some reason not well known. The Bill of Rights was somewhat of a compromise. When you think about it though, it makes sense - why else would it be a set of Amendments and not a part of the Constitution? In hindisght, it was a pretty good idea to include it...
 
  • #67
russ_watters
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wasteofo2 said:
Our Declaration of Independence states that people have the right to alter or abolish any form of government that becomes destructive...
That's a toughie, waste - the civil war was largely about that very principle and the Union victory and the Amendments that followed restricted affirmed that a state did not have a right to unilaterally seceed. However, it is built into the Constitution itself that you can abolish it - if you can change anything with an Amendment, you can change the whole thing. But its still a contradiction in terms to protest the very rights that you are exercising.
 
  • #68
Russ said:
Frankly, I get the idea that most people (today) do it just for the sake of getting arrested - they don't have a clear purpose beyond that (perhaps that's what you meant).
To some degree. I've never seen a flag burned publicly in a peaceful protest. It tends to get people's ire up. The only flag burning I can think of off the top off my head was a while back here in Orange County. It was the Fourth of July and something close to a riot was going on downtown. It wasn't exactly violent just a bunch of drunk people getting out of hand in the street. They had started a bonfire in the middle of the street and somebody decided it would be a good idea to throw a flag on it. Well quite a few people got pissed and fights started to break out. In this particular situation that particular act created a major disturbance and I think the individual should have been charged with a crime. A crime related to the consequences of the act though not necessarily the act itself. It is a crime to incite a disturbance and I don't care if someone feels that their actions should be considered freedom of speech.
 
  • #69
rachmaninoff
It is a crime to incite a disturbance and I don't care if someone feels that their actions should be considered freedom of speech.

You're aware this has virtually nothing to do with the proposed legislation?
 
  • #70
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russ_watters said:
That's a toughie, waste - the civil war was largely about that very principle and the Union victory and the Amendments that followed restricted affirmed that a state did not have a right to unilaterally seceed. However, it is built into the Constitution itself that you can abolish it - if you can change anything with an Amendment, you can change the whole thing.
This isn't secession we're talking about though, it's private individuals symbolically protesting the government.

russ_watters said:
But its still a contradiction in terms to protest the very rights that you are exercising.

The burning of flags isn't something one would do to protest the rights that the government affords them, it's something one would do as a general protest of the institution of American Government. For instance, if the government failed to protect their rights or tried to legally limit their rights, or if the government in general was no providing for the common welfare, one might burn the flag. It is blatently disrespectful, but that is what it is meant to be. If people have such a lack of respect for the U.S. government that they burn its flag in effigy, it should be a signal to the government that it is not being responsive to the will of the people. Admittedly, burning a flag won't tell the government exactly what your problem with it is, but it's not meant as a specific redress of grievences, rather as a broad and general condemnation of the instutition of the USA. If the Congress passes this, they might as well just renew the Alien and Sedition acts as well...

And even if flag burning was self-contradictory, why in the world would that matter? If self-contradictory actions were unconstitutional, nearly every President ever should have been impeached.
 
  • #71
rachmaninoff said:
You're aware this has virtually nothing to do with the proposed legislation?
Have you been reading my posts? In their entirety?
 
  • #72
arildno
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russ_watters said:
The flag is a symbol of our country and there is no right more fundamental to this country than the right to freedom of speech. So using freedom of speech to burn a symbol of freedom of speech is just basic hypocrisy. I love it when hippies display their hypocrisy publicly.
You've just arbitrarily chosen one particular ideal that the flag supposedly symbolizes in order to derive your "contradiction".
Since a nation's flag will be wherever the armed forces of a country is, the flag can equally well be regarded as a symbol for something totally different than "freedom of speech".


Not that I condone flag-burning; I find it puerile and counter-productive.
 
  • #73
honestrosewater
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So has anyone else written their senators? I wrote mine (even though Mel Martinez is a http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:SJ00012:@@@P [Broken]).
 
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