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Claire

Freedom of Speech

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[FONT=Arial]Out of the blue, my American Government teacher started showing us an ABC News video about laws concerning self-expression and gave us an assignment to do on our opinions about flag-burning. "Is it free speech?" I thought it would make an interesting sort of debate, almost, here, so I decided to go ahead with it. This assuming that everyone who plans on participate knows that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and should theirs differ from yours, you are NOT entitled to insult or flame them for it. I'm sure most people accept this, but looking through some past threads (such as the gay marriage thread, which seemed to turn into a heated religious debate), I just want to make sure.

My feelings toward self-expression constantly differ. The first Amendment in the Bill of Rights states (I had to memorize something like this for American Government) this:

[QUOTE]Congress may not create an official church or enact laws limiting the freedom of religion, speech, the press, assembly, and petition.
[/QUOTE]

To me, this means that every citizen in the United States is allowed to say whatever they want, they can follow whatever religion they want, or disregard any form of religion at all, print their own opinions in any publication they want, gather in most any place for any reason as they want, and ask for changes within the way things work as they want.

Flag-burning, however, is a very strange way of self-expression. I feel both sides of the argument, those for a law against it and those for "self-expression," aren't behaving as they should be. Personally, I don't see burning a flag as such a big deal, other than the open fire endangering everything around it. People can complain all they want about people "desecrating a national symbol," but seriously; what's the point? It's just a piece of cloth. Maybe even a piece of paper. I realize what it means to some people, especially veterans who have gone through a kind of hell in order to save the freedom of the citizens of America. I also realize how many times I have and am going to contradict myself during this little rant, but as I've said before, my opinions change a lot. I suppose I'm kind of trying to figure out exactly where I stand on these issues.

I think I might have some very logical reasons against flag-burning, but I [I]am[/I] just fourteen years old. Who knows what my "logic" might really be?
The flames that destroy the flag are definitely dangerous, first and foremost, what fire isn't? On the video, it showed a man holding a rather large flaming flag by the only tip that wasn't burning, which only lasted about a second. He dropped it in a hurry, leaving it to burn away on the sidewalk. There were many people around, which increases the safety hazard.
Also, what good comes of it? The only way burning a flag will affect anybody in authority is that it will make them very angry. It seems like a childish way to try to get what one wants, by throwing a firey temper tantrum against "the mother"--the government.
Finally, many people find it extremely offensive. The people who burn the flag have done nothing to help the country improve, and if they obviously don't like the way things are being done...Canada's just across the northern border.

Now, for my "logical reasons" as to why there shouldn't be a law against flag-burning.
It's just a flag. Seriously. I know if it were a prize from a great war, a literal certificate of freedom won by the ardor of many many people who were wounded or killed, then it would definitely be wrong to burn it. However, I now feel more against flag-burning than when I started this thread, so I'm glad I did. This could really help me on my assignment.

Now, aside from flag-burning, there are lots of other dampers that points of authority have put on freedom of "self-expression" (which isn't mentioned in the first amendment, anyway. Religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition doesn't mean 'I have the right to wear provocative clothing to school because it's against the law to limit freedom of self-expression' or 'I have the right to burn this flag because I'm expressing myself'). The thing I've experienced that I've gotten the most worked up over is the discrimination against Christians: certain jobs and schools prohibit their staff and students from wishing someone a merry Christmas.

THIS is just plain ridiculous. Not only is it limiting freedom of speech, but also freedom of religion. Frankly, I don't see what is just so darn offensive about "Merry Christmas." I'd be offended if someone didn't say that to me (depending on how close I am to such a person, I don't care what strangers or accquaintances say to me). Obviously, it's a phrase of good will and love, and nothing more. However, those same places that banned Christmas have [B]allowed[/B] "Happy Hanukkah," another religious wintertime holiday, and every other form of religious and non-religious winter greeting. Why not Christmas? Even non-Christians celebrate it, for pete's sake.

However, I don't like to see obscene language or other types of profanity in public. I don't like to hear it on the radio (which I hardly ever listen to anyway), nor on TV, nor anywhere else. I don't like it, and sometimes I can't help but be exposed to it. No one can tell me that, "If you don't like it, don't watch/read/listen to/look at it," because sometimes I can't stop it from coming to me. I know this falls under freedom of speech, but is it really necessary?

This might be the last point I touch on, because I have some other things I really need to do. The video showed groups of angry angry Catholics protesting the movie "Dogma." Why? They say it was blasphemous; a hate crime. Obviously, none of them were forced at gun- or knife-point to watch the movie, and none of them were shot, stabbed, burned, mentally corrupted, possessed, smothered, etc., while watching this movie. I haven't seen it myself, so I wouldn't really know how "offensive" it was to the people who said it was. But a hate crime? That's a bit much.

So, what are your opinions on these things (and things I haven't mentioned?) Just how free should we be with our "self-expression?" Who has the right to ban something from some people, and not ban the same thing from other people? It is a very confusing concept, and I'm going to try to get some light shed on the whole thing.

[QUOTE]
[I]My father says anyone can burn the flag, as long as they wrap themselves in it before they set it on fire.[/I][/QUOTE]
-my American Government teacher[/FONT]

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[size=1]Flag burning? You could be burning a bedsheet for all I care -- the only problem I have with it is the fire hazard such a situation presents. If, somehow, you were to do it in a manner that would control the fire hazard, then go for it.

My history teacher said that your rights end where my nose begins. This means, quite obviously, that you can do whatever is within your Constitutional rights, so long as it doesn't hinder anyone else's life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness.

Self-expression should be legal, so long as it isn't hurting anyone. The racists who held anti-Civil Rights protests were allowed to say what they said, but it crossed the line when they threw rock and lynched.[/size]

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[COLOR=#790A43][SIZE=1][quote name='Amelia][FONT=Arial']On the video, it showed a man holding a rather large flaming flag by the only tip that wasn't burning, which only lasted about a second. He dropped it in a hurry, leaving it to burn away on the sidewalk.[/FONT][/quote]I lol'd.

There must be some sort of demarcation line between "just expressing yourself" and "expressing yourself enough to make the cops have at you". I'm sure of it; I just don't know where law enforcers draw that line.

[COLOR=#EDEDED]_____[/COLOR]One couldn't really call them cops (or practically everyone else) names and then say one's protected by that "freedom of speech" clause. They [i]can[/i] slap him/her with slander, you know? Same with publishing materials about other people. If it ain't right, it's libel.
[COLOR=#EDEDED]_____[/COLOR]Over here, dispersal quickly follows a protest held without a city permit. I really am not against mass demonstrations, I just hope that them activists will stay clear off my commuting route. I can confidently say the almost everybody in the metro has experienced some form of inconvenience brought about by protests, massive traffic jams being the most common.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: freedom of speech, assemblage, etc. aren't laws without bounds. Like what Retri said, other laws that protect the interests of other citizens limit their extent.[/SIZE][/COLOR]

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Interesting, Most Interesting. (Sorry, Gavin...I couldn't resist.)

Here's my view on Freedom of Speech.

Freedom of Speech, as with everything to do with the Government, is a double standard. Sure, you can say anything you want, as long as it's what everyone else wants to hear, doesn't hurt anyone else, and is what the Government tells you to say. That being said, I agree with Retribution's quote:
[QUOTE]Your rites end where your nose begins.[/QUOTE]

The thing about freedom of speech is that it's a joke. Any opinion you have is totally valid, until it contradicts with other's opinions. Then it becomes "debateable." You can tell anyone your opinions, if they're willing to hear them. You just have to be careful that you trust those people, and that they won't "rat" you out to the person/thing you have a differing view on.

That's the hard part about freedom of speech, isn't it? Finding out where enough is enough, and where to stop. I know that's part of your question, but I don't think anyone has the answer because everyone has their differing opinions on the topic at hand. That's where it gets complicated: Where do you stop showing your opinions? As I've said, everyone has their own, and this topic is basied on everyone's opinion on other people's opinions...quite complicated, if you ask me, and it seemes to contradict itself.

I'm going to stop right now, seeing as I'm just repeating myself, but that doesn't mean that I'm done talking. Once I have some other points in my head, I'll put them down. And, once others have expressed their opinions here, I'll start debating if the need arises.

-Rickky

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[size=1]Yeah. A burning flag is [i]such[/i] a firehazard, lol. I think you're over-estimating the combustibility of people.

Anyway, I'm not sure what makes you think that free speech is something sacred. I might be Australian, but it's plainly obvious to me that people anywhere cannot say what they please, without thought. Because free speech only counts as long as you're not harming anyone else's rights.

There are lots of things I'd like to mention but my main view is that flag-burning is unnacceptable. The rabble who do it should be arrested. If you hate the country that much, piss off and go somewhere else. Leastways, thats my view.[/size]

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[quote name='Random']That being said, I agree with Retribution's quote: [...][/quote]
[size=1]Alright then, but I thought that you said...
[quote]The thing about freedom of speech is that it's a joke.[/quote]
...which is something I totally disagree with.
[quote]Any opinion you have is totally valid, until it contradicts with other's opinions. Then it becomes "debateable." You can tell anyone your opinions, if they're willing to hear them. You just have to be careful that you trust those people, and that they won't "rat" you out to the person/thing you have a differing view on.[/quote]
That?s not true. An opinion I have about, say, what I should have for dinner is a completely valid one, even if others disagree with me. If I want tacos, and my brother wants pizza, how is my opinion invalid by the conflict? [b]Anything[/b] is debatable ? does that mean that all opinions are invalid? Of course not.

As for the point about being ?ratted out,? that?s not true either. I can walk downtown, stand outside the White House gates, and say ?F___ BUSH! DEATH TO THE REPUBLICANS,? and there would be nothing wrong with that. Perhaps I?d be yelled at for disturbing the peace, but not for having a differing opinion.
[quote]That's the hard part about freedom of speech, isn't it? Finding out where enough is enough, and where to stop. I know that's part of your question, but I don't think anyone has the answer because everyone has their differing opinions on the topic at hand. That's where it gets complicated: Where do you stop showing your opinions? As I've said, everyone has their own, and this topic is basied on everyone's opinion on other people's opinions...quite complicated, if you ask me, and it seemes to contradict itself.[/quote]
Not really? you should stop when you feel yourself encroaching upon another person?s rights ? be it life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. You stop showing your opinions when it?s at the wrong time, in the wrong place. For instance, I wouldn?t tell people how I?m a Democrat and how I?m unhappy with Bush?s job of running the country at a Republican Convention ? that? socially unacceptable, so to speak. Likewise, I would not tell a child that there is no (beware!) [spoiler]Santa[/spoiler] ? it?s just not right.

[quote name='Baron']There are lots of things I'd like to mention but my main view is that flag-burning is unnacceptable. The rabble who do it should be arrested. If you hate the country that much, piss off and go somewhere else. Leastways, thats my view.[/quote]
Why should they? Yes, it's obnoxious, but it's [i]technically[/i] within their rights, so why should they stop? It's completely acceptable, just really annoying.[/size]

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I must say I'm quite disturbed toward the lack of American pride here on this thread. I serve in the US armed forces and I believe it's there that you can gain a true appreciation for what the flag stands for, and all the blood that was shed so it could fly high and proud. And to burn one is like spitting in the face of every man who ever served and/or died in any American war.

The services men and women of past who fought for this country waved this flag as a banner to show the rest of the world the pride we arried for our nation, and now because some anarchist moron thinks the world needs to abanndon governement and burns a flag, we should all just look the other way.

I'll tell you right now, I ever see some one burning a flag, even if it's just one of those tiny little flags they hand out at the 4 of july, I'll shot right in the f***ing head. I take this very seriously. Why? Because unlike what I've noticed here is that no matter how much you asay it, if you can condone flag burning then you obvously have no respect for our armed forces who died so it wave over our country. You have no respect for great names like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who fought to the brnk of death so this symbol could fly with out repretion.

I know freedom of speech gives you the right to expression and I'm all for that, don't get me wrong. But if you can take a flag and burn it you have just spit on the honor of that sacred document that gives you that right. How can you call out for freedom of speech and then burn it's very symbol? The idea alone is hypocritical, and anyone who is okay with this is nothing short of a hypocrite in my eyes. And I hate nothing more then a hypocrite.

I've said in the past that I may not be the biggest supporter of our present government and I'm not ashamed to say it to anyone who wants to hear it, but I do love my country and am willing to fight and die for my country. So for me to watch these a**holes go out and burn the symbol that my brothers are out there dieing for fills me witha rage I can't begin to describe to you.

In short, if you want to burn a flag, that's fine, but make sure you move to north korea or Iran first. Be cause if the very symbol that defines us is some how deserving in your eyes then I don't want to protect you. Go to Iran or some other totalitarian nation so I can take shots at you with M-16 in a few years.

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[quote name='Starwind']I'll tell you right now, I ever see some one burning a flag, even if it's just one of those tiny little flags they hand out at the 4 of july, I'll shot right in the f***ing head. I take this very seriously. Why? Because unlike what I've noticed here is that no matter how much you asay it, if you can condone flag burning then you obvously have no respect for our armed forces who died so it wave over our country. You have no respect for great names like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who fought to the brnk of death so this symbol could fly with out repretion.[/quote]
[size=1]It is also these revered fathers who said "Give me liberty, or give me death," those revered fathers who fought for the right to do what they wanted, for self-governance, for the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I'd say it's hypocritical to want to take away the right to burn a flag. It's infringing upon a sacred right -- if we start saying "Well, you can do this, but not that," how will we know were to stop? We already have wire taps, we already have the PATRIOT Act, we already have jailing without a warrant.

Give the people their rights -- no matter how much they upset you. Sometimes burning a flag is completely called for -- if, hypothetically, slavery were re-instated, you better believe that I'd go in front of the White House and burn every American flag I could get my hands on.

Try not to blindly dismiss the [i]reason[/i] behind burning the flag. Yes, sometimes it's just a completely stupid reason, but sometimes it's a valid argument they have. Not to mention that your revered Founding Fathers had slaves and were racist. Jefferson was a hypocrite -- he advocated the rights of the 'common man,' preached about how slavery is evil, and lived in Montecello, and owned slaves. Do you hate him?

[quote]...I hate nothing more then a hypocrite.[/quote]

I don't smile when I see an American flag burned. I truly feel sad -- I feel sad that there'd be such disrespect towards the flag. The thing that separates me and you, is that I'm rational about it -- I look for the meaning behind it -- I respect their freedom of speech, and how people died for that right. How would it be if you revoked a right that people died for? Would it be just?[/size]

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[quote name='Retribution][size=1']It is also these revered fathers who said "Give me liberty, or give me death," those revered fathers who fought for the right to do what they wanted, for self-governance, for the life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I'd say it's hypocritical to want to take away the right to burn a flag. It's infringing upon a sacred right -- if we start saying "Well, you can do this, but not that," how will we know were to stop? We already have wire taps, we already have the PATRIOT Act, we already have jailing without a warrant.[/size][/quote]

I understand this much, I have to personally sufferd for the PATRIOT Act. I know what this kind of thing represents and I am opposed to this sort of thing, but you also seem to forget the fact that I mentioned that I am opposed to this government and make no short note of mentioning it, and I am an advicate of civil rights in this country.

[/QUOTE]Give the people their rights -- no matter how much they upset you. Sometimes burning a flag is completely called for -- if, hypothetically, slavery were re-instated, you better believe that I'd go in front of the White House and burn every American flag I could get my hands on.[/QUOTE]

[/QUOTE]I don't smile when I see an American flag burned. I truly feel sad -- I feel sad that there'd be such disrespect towards the flag. The thing that separates me and you, is that I'm rational about it -- I look for the meaning behind it -- I respect their freedom of speech, and how people died for that right. How would it be if you revoked a right that people died for? Would it be just?[/size][/QUOTE]

Let me be perfectly straight forward with you, if you ever see someone burning a flag, there is no rationale behind it other than "I hate America". Because, instead of boycott or petition or protest, these guys decided to deface a symbol of our freedom, our nation, and our troops who have died to see to it that the flag can wave as a sign of freedom of for the people of our country. We live in a massive multicultural nation, if you want respect for the flag, talk to someone who managed to escape cambodia during the reign of Pol Pot, or someone who made it out of Iraq or Iran, and let them tell you how proud they are of that flag. You say you look for the rationale, and I say your delusional. These men have done this because the only rationale they could come up with was "Hate America".

We have freedoms in this nation and if your so opposed to something, then petition it to the government. I'm not for a law that bans flag burning, because that should be a given. If you feel the need to burn a flag then you have no right to live here, because the only way you can manifest a show of disapproval is through direspect and hatred, and we don't want that here.

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[size=1]Starwind, listen to me. The people who burn the flag are discontent with America, or "Hate America" as you put it. Why do they hate America? What happened to them that led them to hate America? It's not like the nation's completely pure and above-the-fray. We've committed war crimes (Read: Trail of Tears), we've utterly oppressed and discriminated against a huge chunk of the population. We've destroyed villages and killed civilians for no reason (Read: Vietnam War). We're not the almighty, all-pure country you're trying to paint here.

There is massive sin and blood on America's hands -- there's plenty to 'hate' here. Granted, there is the instance where someone is burning the flag just to do it, but nine times out of ten, there's logic behind it.

You seem to think that America's all about liberty, freedom, and happiness. You seem to think that we're all actually equal in America. America's no euphoria -- there's things horridly wrong with it. The burning of a flag is a way to quickly grab attention to a cause, saying "I'm unhappy with America, come see why." There's a reason behind it.

And please don't call me delusional because of my views.[/size]

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I know all about the war crimes of our past and what we have done in war, I am taking a history of the Vietnam course this semester and it's being taught by a teacher who was there. I know about the trail of tears in which you speak, but every nation your going to see has these things about them. There is no one nation who's history is not stained with blood at somepoint. Not England, not France, not Germany, not Japan, not Italy, not any other nation your going to find out there.

Every nation has some horrible black part of it's past, some kind of massacre or oppression. But that's not what I'm talking about, you keep ignoring my plea, which is really starting to upset me. I'm a soilder, me and my borthers in arms go out and fight and die for that flag. If I see someone burning a flag, I'm gonna jump on him and beat the crap out of him. Why? Because for someone of service, he has just spit in my face for all he did. He just said "I don't care about all the people who died so I can have this freedom, I just want to watch the pretty colors burn to ash."

You think that for some reason this gets great attention, and it does. But not the kind that will rally to your cause. There is no logic to burning a flag and all it does is invoke anger. We have political and rational ways to solve problems. Again, we don't need a law to stop flag burning, because if you really enjoy the freedoms of this nation, then you didn't need to do it. It was nothing more then a simple act of anger and hate, that has just dishonored every soilder in this country.

Do I think flag burning is un-patriotic. Damn straight it is! Do I think the PATRIOT Act is un-patriotic. Again, Damn straight it is! But I will never turn my back on, or burn a flag. Why? Because the flag is not a sign of government or the president, it's a sign of our freedom, and a shining beakon for our troops who fight for those freedoms. I wish I could make you understand this, but you strike me as being so dead set that I don't think what I say matters to you, because you won't except the thoughts of others.

In summary, I don't think there needs to be a law against it, because if you really believe in this country and the freedoms you have, then if you don't, you simply have no logic or understanding, or even respect for the rights you have as an American. I believe that if you really want to make things change, there are better ways then burning a flag. Because you don't represent the government, you represent those freedoms you call for and those soilders who died in the name of.

Why do you believe that these people deserve even the time of day? If they need to resort to flag burning, which is, again, a simple act of hatred against this nation, why do these people deserve anything more then resentment. I respond to logic and thought and opinion. Which is why I respond to you. I may not agree with you, but I respect the fact that you can stand here talk rationally of what you believe, and I do apologize for calling you delusional. I just wish there was some way I could help you understand the kind of act this is. And the anger it causese me.

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[color=darkslateblue] I believe it's within a citizen's right to burn their country's flag, but morally, I find it rather shameful and disrespectul. I have a lot of beefs with America, but I would never burn the US flag to show my point. There are other, better ways of getting my point across. Burning the flag means you're burning the great people who have lead this country through times of crisis and depression. Yeah, the US has done a lot of crappy things, but seriously...

Ok, so let's say some kid named John has a problem with Bush and his actions in leading this country. He decides to try and persaude his friends to agree with him, so he gathers them around and he burns the US flag in front of them. Fat lot of help that does.

Burning the US flag means you despise America for all of it's points- which includes the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, our founding fathers, and every -freaking- other thing in American history. If you really have a problem with ALL of these things, [strike]you are weird[/strike] go ahead an burn the flag. If you're going to argue against something happening now, burning the flag is sort of redundant.[/color]

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[quote name='Retribution][size=1]Why should they? Yes, it's obnoxious, but it's [i]technically[/i'] within their rights, so why should they stop? It's completely acceptable, just really annoying.[/size][/quote]
[size=1]Technically, there isn't anything wrong with outlining a detailed plan of how you're going to kill George Bush, but if you get reported for it, you'll still go to jail.[/size]

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[size=1]I feel like no one is listening when I say that [i]burning a flag is within our Constitutional rights, and it usually has a reason and/or logic behind it[/i]. Rarely do people go burn the flag for fun.

Like I said, I truly feel sad when this happens -- it's burning something I have feelings for. However, I know that it is within the citizen's rights, and that should be respected.[/size]

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[COLOR=DarkSlateBlue]Alright...time to get back at this thing. I'll say one thing before I start, though. Sometimes, when I'm replying to a thread like this where I hold a strong opinion, I tend to get carried away a little and not realize what I'm saying, or not express myself correctly. I'm sorry for this, and any confusion that it has, and will, cause.

[quote name='Retribution]An opinion I have about, say, what I should have for dinner is a completely valid one, even if others disagree with me. If I want tacos, and my brother wants pizza, how is my opinion invalid by the conflict? [b]Anything[/b'] is debatable ? does that mean that all opinions are invalid? Of course not.[/quote]

This I agree with...anything [i]is[/i] debatable. And that doesn't mean that all opinions are invalid. I should have worded this differently. When I said, "All opinions are valid until they differ with others, then they become debatable," I didn't mean that once they become debatable, they become invalad. I see how you read it like that, but it's not what I meant. What I meant is simply that all opinions are valid until they differ from others opinions. Then, by becoming debatable, no one opinion is any better or worse than the other...at least in the eyes of the government, according to Freedom of Speech. But, in the eyes of each person with a differing opinion, their opinion is correct, and the other's wrong. That's understandable.

Freedom of Speech, to my knowledge and correct me if I'm wrong, is to allow all thoughts, opinions, and choises, for lack of better words, a chance to be spoken, as long as it doesn't infringe on other's thoughts, opinions, choises, or happiness...seems like a bit skewed, if you ask me.

[quote name='Retrubution']You should stop when you feel yourself encroaching upon another person?s rights ? be it life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness. You stop showing your opinions when it?s at the wrong time, in the wrong place.[/quote]

This is, in escence, what I was trying to say...thank you, Retri, for wording it better for me.

Back to the topic of flag-burning, I, personally, belive it's wrong. Sure, it might be "within a citizen's rites" to burn a flag, but that doesn't necessarily make it right, right? I understand where you're coming from, Retri, because I hold the same feelings as you do - "I feel truly sad when it happens" - but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to respect someone for doing it...wouldn't that be hindering [i]my[/i] Freedom of Speech? Just because someone's doing something like burning a flag and it's in their Constitutional rites to do so, doesn't mean that I can't say something against it, because saying, or doing, something against something...or for something, for that matter...is exactly what Freedom of Speech is all about.

Sorry if this is a little confusing, Retri, but it seems like you're putting too much emphasis on others' rites under Freedom of Speech, and not enough on your own...what I mean by this is that you allow other people to burn flags, but you aren't allowing yourself to do anything about it, other than "feeling sad" and "respecting" their decision to do you. But, then again, maybe you are following your own rite to do nothing about it...I honestly can't say, but from what I've read, that's the conclusion I've come up with...correct me if I'm wrong.

One last note before I leave: I don't live in the U.S.A. I live in Canada. So, the "lack of American pride here on this thread" is a generalization...not everyone on this site is American, Starwind...F.Y.I. (I'm not trying to step on toes. It just gets annoying when people assume that the only people that are going to reply are Americans, or whatever-ans...)

-Ex[/COLOR]

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A philospher once said "I may not agree with what you're doing, but I'll defend your right to do it." That is what I feel about the whole issue of flag-burning. I don't agree with it, but that gives me no right to stop them.

[quote name='Retribution][I][Size=1]burning a flag is within our Constitutional rights, and it usually has a reason and/or logic behind it.[/size'][/I][/quote]

Retri, you do have a point. People rarely do things without reason. But, what ever the reason may be, they have plenty of options to go about resolving their problems. Flag-burning is a rather unconstructive way to go about it, and it is also a fire hazard.

I'm am one of those people who believes that the flag represents freedom, not the government. To burn the flag, in my eyes, is to disgrace the freedom most of us take for granted. I don't agree with it, but I won't stop the people from doing it. It is free speech, it doesn't hurt me, so I have no right to infringe on their opinions. All I can do is shake my head as I watch them, and pity the poor soul for not thinking their actions through.

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[quote name='Ecstasy']Freedom of Speech, to my knowledge and correct me if I'm wrong, is to allow all thoughts, opinions, and choises, for lack of better words, a chance to be spoken, as long as it doesn't infringe on other's thoughts, opinions, choises, or happiness...seems like a bit skewed, if you ask me.[/quote]
[size=1]No, no, I didn't mean that. What I mean is that if I said, for instance, "Bush is stupid," it would anger someone -- they would not be happy. However, I'm not hindering their pursuit of happiness by saying things about Bush. I'm not hindering their pursuit of happiness because all they need to do is walk away or count to ten. We're all entitled to our opinions -- my opinions don't have to be the same as yours.

My freedom of speech ends when I hinder another's life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness, meaning, I cannot shout "Fire!" in a crowded building when there is no fire. I am endangering lives.

[quote]Back to the topic of flag-burning, I, personally, belive it's wrong. Sure, it might be "within a citizen's rites" to burn a flag, but that doesn't necessarily make it right, right? I understand where you're coming from, Retri, because I hold the same feelings as you do - "I feel truly sad when it happens" - but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to respect someone for doing it...wouldn't that be hindering [i]my[/i] Freedom of Speech? Just because someone's doing something like burning a flag and it's in their Constitutional rites to do so, doesn't mean that I can't say something against it, because saying, or doing, something against something...or for something, for that matter...is exactly what Freedom of Speech is all about.[/quote]
No, it's really not hindering your freedom of speech to allow flag-burning. If you don't want flags burned, try to pass a bill to make it so. If you don't want flags burned, you can [i]say that[/i]. No one's sewing your mouth shut on this issue. However, until your bill is passed, the citizenry have the right to burn flags, and that right should be respected. I think the misunderstanding is how I'm using the word 'respect' here.

What I mean by respect, is not smile or applaud or salute when you see a burning flag. You don't need to be happy about it. What I mean by respect is understand that it is within their rights to do so, and honor that right. You can debate against it. You can utterly disagree with it, but you have to 'follow' the law, so to speak.

For instance, there's nothing illegal about a neo-Nazi parade. They really anger me, and I wish they'd get off the street. But if they have a permit, they have the right to march, and I must respect that. I must [i]honor and respect[/i] their right to march, no matter the message. Whether you disagree with it or not is inconsequential.

[quote]Sorry if this is a little confusing, Retri, but it seems like you're putting too much emphasis on others' rites under Freedom of Speech, and not enough on your own...what I mean by this is that you allow other people to burn flags, but you aren't allowing yourself to do anything about it, other than "feeling sad" and "respecting" their decision to do you. But, then again, maybe you are following your own rite to do nothing about it...I honestly can't say, but from what I've read, that's the conclusion I've come up with...correct me if I'm wrong.[/quote]
I really don't think I'm overstressing the rights of others above the rights of yourself. You can do something about a burning flag, don't get me wrong. You can go pass a bill, you can tell them they're idiotic and they should stop, but you must respect their Constitutional rights.

And I don't think there's anything that needs to be done on the issue. I'd rather have the citizens choose to respect the flag, rather than have that honor forced upon them. You end up with a feeling of hollow patriotism if you force the citizens to respect the flag ... instead of it being something that gives you pride, it's something dull, and the action (the Pledge of Allegiance, for example) loses its value. That's how it is for me, anyway.[/size]

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[COLOR=#790A43][SIZE=1][URL=http://www.house.gov/abercrombie/services/flag_code.shtml]The US Flag Code[/URL]

Hmm, it seems that the only proper way to dispose of your flag is by burning it... basically. Before you can lol at them demonstrators though, see if the flag they're burning don't look "fit as a symbol of (your) country". If it ain't tattered, faded, or hopelessly soiled (IOW, damaged), they're flouting the Flag Code.

Problem is, the Flag Code doesn't impose penalties for violators. And when 1989 Texas vs. Johnson case came up, so did attempts (in the form of the Flag Protection Act and Flag Protection Ammendment) to define whether flag burning and deliberate desecration of said symbol is a crime. Though your House of Representatives was for FPA, the Senate wasn't. They were still at it even in 2004 (the fifth time your Congress mulled over ammending the US Constitution to include the FPA)

Why the 16-year deliberation? You've one side backed up by the Flag Code and the other by the First Ammendment, that's why. It almost looks like one of them unresolvable chicken-egg situations to me.

But still:[INDENT]Patriotism lives through substantive ideas, not just symbolic objects. Protect the substance, and the symbols will take care of themselves.
[RIGHT]- Rushmore Kidder[/RIGHT][/INDENT][/SIZE][/COLOR]

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[size=2]Hmm, burning flags. I suppose what we have here is a clash of interpretations. Somebody who appreciates the current state of the country could view flag-burning as an attack on his worldview. The person who sees the flag-burning this way truly feels as if he/she is a part of the country. His/her interpretation of it is as an assault on a part of his/her being.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]Now, how about someone who doesn't appreciate the current state of the country? That person could see the flag as a representation of its current undesirable state. This person could view a burning flag as a protest against the current state of the country. He/she could destroy this symbol of the present state without thinking about its past. To him/her, it is an attack on something foreign. This person's worldview is not being represented in the current state of the country. It is a protest against what that person sees as personally harmful to him/her.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]Now, how to resolve this. People who see flag-burners burning flags should understand that those individuals feel that the current state of the country is unjust to them. Instead of blaming and threatening these people, try to understand that not everybody shares your worldview. The country that you so love because it is good to you is not good to these people. You should see the burning flag as a sign that your country is not perfect.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]In my opinion, flag-burners should keep burning flags. If anyone thinks for even a moment about what is going on, they will realize that the burning flag is a message. It is a message telling you that your country is not yet perfect. If you feel so strongly about these flags being burned, then do something about it. Listen to the message, and see if your country cannot be changed for the better, for all who live within it. If you care so strongly, then strive to make your country a place where flags need not be burned.[/size]

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[QUOTE=Adahn][size=2]Hmm, burning flags. I suppose what we have here is a clash of interpretations. Somebody who appreciates the current state of the country could view flag-burning as an attack on his worldview. The person who sees the flag-burning this way truly feels as if he/she is a part of the country. His/her interpretation of it is as an assault on a part of his/her being.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]Now, how about someone who doesn't appreciate the current state of the country? That person could see the flag as a representation of its current undesirable state. This person could view a burning flag as a protest against the current state of the country. He/she could destroy this symbol of the present state without thinking about its past. To him/her, it is an attack on something foreign. This person's worldview is not being represented in the current state of the country. It is a protest against what that person sees as personally harmful to him/her.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]Now, how to resolve this. People who see flag-burners burning flags should understand that those individuals feel that the current state of the country is unjust to them. Instead of blaming and threatening these people, try to understand that not everybody shares your worldview. The country that you so love because it is good to you is not good to these people. You should see the burning flag as a sign that your country is not perfect.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]In my opinion, flag-burners should keep burning flags. If anyone thinks for even a moment about what is going on, they will realize that the burning flag is a message. It is a message telling you that your country is not yet perfect. If you feel so strongly about these flags being burned, then do something about it. Listen to the message, and see if your country cannot be changed for the better, for all who live within it. If you care so strongly, then strive to make your country a place where flags need not be burned.[/size][/QUOTE]

[color=darkslateblue] I feel that the flag represents the entire history of the country, not just the current state. Wouldn't a symbol of a country be rather redundant if it were continuously changing and never remembering the history of it? You can't burn such a symbol and then say "Oh, well, I'm burning the part of it that holds this current event." It's ridiculous. If there's a allegorical symbol in a novel, characters don't 'partly' destroy it because they want to destroy only a current state.

If someone wants to demonstrate against what's happening [i]currently[/i] in the US, they shouldn't destroy a symbol that stands for [i]everything[/i] in the US. You can hold a meaningful demonstration without burning flags. Join a club that deals with these things at your school, if there isn't, make one. Join the newspaper and write your opinions. I'm doing all of these things, and I believe it's more effective than burning flags.[/color]

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[SIZE=1]Interesting, most interesting.

Well it seems this thread has changed from a debate on the concept of Freedom of Speech to a debate on whether or not burning a country's national flag should be legal. Personally I find the American constitutional right of Freedom of Speech to be a fascinating concept, that gives even those who would call for the destruction of the very nation they inhabit the right to voice their opinion, it just seems a very naive and wonderful liberty. On the subject of flag burning however I genuinely feel that destroying the symbol of a nation should be in some shape or form a criminal act, I don't understand why someone would knowingly destroy the emblem of their own country, although I do agree with Retri when he says there's a logical reason behind it.

If an Irish person were to burn the Tricolour, the Irish national flag in my presence I must admit I would be hard pressed not to kick seven shades of shite out of that person for doing so. They're not protected by any form of freedom of expression, so they couldn't claim it was in their rights to do so, but the point is that they are desecrating something that God knows how many Irish men, several of my granduncles included, died to attain. It's not only an insult to everyone who died fighting against the then oppressive British Empire but to those people descended from them, and those people who appreciate their sacrifice. All that said I don't believe I've ever heard of any person from the Republic burning an the Tricolour, however such is all too common among Loyalist individuals in the North.

Do I believe that people should have the right to freedom of speech ? To an extent. I'm not trying to cop-out of answering the question, but while I do support people's right to give their opinion of something without suffering undue consequences, I would be remised to agree to something that would allow racist groups of any denomination the right to spout their hate. Thus I agree to it only to an extent.

Do I believe people should have the right to burn their national flag ? Absolutely not. For those of us who come from a country who won the right to have their own national flag instead of being part of some foreign empire, it is an insult to everyone who fought and died for that freedom. If you don't like the country, there's nothing keeping you there.[/SIZE]

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[FONT=Arial]Just so everyone knows, this thread isn't just for debating the right to burn a flag, but for everything concerning the first Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Just seemed like that's all we're talking about here...

I wrote my paper today, and included something my mother and I realized this morning; traditionally, a damaged flag is burned. It's possible that people who burn the flag think that it has been symbolically damaged and are burning it to show remorse for what we've done in the country. Probably not, but still; it's a thought. =)

We're watching the "You Can't SAY That!" video all week, and it's covering a whole bunch of interesting things. I was surprised that a bunch of college students screamed a rational man off their campus because he was trying to start a civil discussion that everybody deserved equal rights from the government. I might've heard wrong, but if I didn't, this seems completely ignorant.

The video also went over Death Row; inmates are not allowed to have last words before they are executed. Ultimately, I believe they should be able to say their last words before they are killed. Sure, they weren't humane when they did whatever they did that put them on Death Row, but really: what are a few last words going to hurt anybody? If they say something extremely insulting to the grim reapers, those grim reapers are going to be watching them die anyway. Maybe the person wants to apologize, or say a prayer before they're executed, there's no harm in that. What gives the government the right to be just as inhumane as the killer was when they committed their crime?

He who has not sinned may cast the first stone.

There shouldn't BE a first stone.[/FONT]

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[color=#9933ff]I am goign to comment on the flag before I move on to free speech.

Stark - I think that was Voltaire? ^_^'

Lunox said " I feel that the flag represents the entire history of the country, not just the current state." and I have to agree. There are people who will burn the flag because they don't like the War in Iraq. (not that I know of these people, but I'm sure they exist). I find that grossly inappropriate, to, as Lunox said, burn a symbol that stands for the entire history of a nation, based on the present.

I also agreed with Starwind (his most recent post on page 1). I don't think there should be a law against flag burning, but I find it disrespectful and inappropriate on some levels. I suppose that my opinion comes from my mother. She told me about the 70s when she went to college and all the protesting of the Vietnam war was going on, and she always tells me, with utter disgust how people would burn flags, and [i]eat[/i] on them, use them as [i]tablecloths[/i], because they didn't like the Vietnam War, all the while her brother was fighting in it, in the navy.

And to Retribution - you say that you can walk down the street and proclaim you hate George Bush and that nothing would happen to you. I beg to differ. He abuses his power all the time - I wouldn't be surprised if he had you detained, or put on the no-fly list. XD Er... yeah. Shutting up.


I would have to stand by the belief that people can do anything under free speech, as long as, again, it doesn't hurt anyone physically, or encroach on their property. Someone said that rascists are allowed to gather and protest, as long as they don't become violent (start throwing stones or whatever). Like the Skokie (sp?) incident. The town eventually had to allow the Neo-Nazis [okay, it was the National Socialist Party of America, but that was an offshoot of the American Nazi Party] to march, even though most of the members of the community were Jewish, because of first ammendment (the ACLU even stepped in, and the guy defending the Nazis WAS Jewish, if I'm not mistaken). The stupid Neo-Nazis didn't even march in the town - they ended up marching in Chicago, but did all that just to prove a point. It definitely makes them bas*****, but marching was well within their right, so long as they never attacked anyone.[/color]

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[quote name='MistressRoxie][color=#9933ff']And to Retribution - you say that you can walk down the street and proclaim you hate George Bush and that nothing would happen to you. I beg to differ. He abuses his power all the time - I wouldn't be surprised if he had you detained, or put on the no-fly list. XD Er... yeah. Shutting up.[/color][/quote]
[size=1]I'm assuming you're joking about this, with the XD and all, but just to be sure...

Bush doesn't detain people solely for saying "I hate you" -- he doesn't detain protesters that are on the Mall, and he'd never detain someone for saying something like that about/to him. Yeah, he abuses his power, but he's not Hitler, for crying out loud. Everyone makes him out to be a Nazi, and don't get me wrong, I'm not fond of him, but I know that he wouldn't go nuts and start detaining people for sneezing.[/size]

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[size=2]Ok, so you say that the flag represents the entire history of the country, and therefore should not be burned. You suggest that another symbol of only the current state of the country be destroyed. As far as I can tell, the most appropriate symbol for people dissatisfied with the country to destroy would be a likeness of the president. No other thing in the country represents its present state better than its leader. What are the consequences of being more appropriate? I can only imagine how dire they would be.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]So, I must stick with my argument. I know what the flag represents to some people (the entire history of the country), but it also represents where the country is, and where it is headed. Since the destruction of the most appropriate symbol is off limits, the flag serves nicely as a second choice.[/size]
[size=2][/size]
[size=2]You all seem to pride yourselves on the histories of your country, but you must remember that the history of your country is probably not all that great. If the flag represents people who fought to keep our country free and good, it also represents slavery, the absence of women's rights, and all the good and bad that this country has seen since its conception. There is no purpose in protesting the past, and I can almost assure you that people who burn flags are protesting the present state of the country. If, however, people do burn flags in protest of the history of our country, then you may look amicably on them, for they surely lack the same number of chromosomes that you all are blessed with.[/size]

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