Have you ever seen anybody burn a flag?

Forty million Americans without healthcare. Our troops battling insurgencies in two Middle Eastern countries. Illegal wire-tapping, illegal CIA prisons, rampant corruption in the government, the poverty rate rising for the third year in a row, hurricaine season is here again and FEMA is a shambles, and countless other real, important issues that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans, and what is our esteemed congress working on?

A Constitutional Amendment to protect the American Flag from ‘desecration’.
A Constitutional Amendment to protect the sanctity of Marriage.
Tougher rules about indecency on television and radio broadcasts.

Jesus Jumping Rope, I hate election years. This is so effen stupid I am tempted to arrange a few days of vacation time, go to D.C. and get myself arrested for screaming at the top of my lungs. But I think I’ll settle for writing a slew of angry letters to congresspeople and newspapers.

To answer my own question, I have NEVER, with my own eyes, in person, seen anyone in this country burn the American flag. And my marriage of nineteen years can’t be damaged in anyway by gays getting married, and I seriously doubt civilization is going to crumble if children accidently hear the word ‘fuck’ on the radio or see Janet Jackson’s tit.

I urge you to write or call your congress representatives and tell them you aren’t going to be distracted by this junk and that they need to get back to work on real issues.

Right on. I’d also add that burning a flag in no way harms the union or our freedom. It’s not disrespectful and is not illegal (yet). Get over it.

I also oppose a flag-burning amendment which apart from the free “speech” issue, unnecessarily gives attention to dimwits.

It should be noted re the OP, however, that there is a long laundry list of questionable or criminal acts that I have never witnessed personally (including but not limited to murder, rape and perversion involving small, furry animals*), but I am glad that these acts are proscribed in our criminal code.
*I have unfortunately seen rather disturbing acts among said animals but this is Nature. Get over it.

I’ve burned several flags.

But I was a cubscout and it was during a weird, quasi-religous-militaristic ceremony. The piousness of that patriotic ritual doesn’t really sit well with me. It makes for Nationalism as a religion and initiates zealots. I think burning a flag under those circumstances is just as political as burning a flag in protest.

Never seen an american flag burned (except maybe on the news once), but I have seen a gay pride flag burned. Was during the pride festival, a man climbed a light pole, removed the pride flag and then burned it. He was charged with destruction of property or some such, so the next year he bought his own and brought it to the fest and burned that one.

To be fair, some folks in Congress are trying to tackle the more serious issues, but they end up getting stymed by Republicans in the process.

Yes, at a street demonstration in Panama City, Panama. Carry on with the rant though.

I have.

I’ll pause now for everyone to look at my location and nod.

Anyhoo, it was actually two weeks ago. I was trapped on Stanyan & Haight in my parked car in the middle of Critical Mass. Everyone was stopped on the block I was on, and a few of them set an American flag on fire in the middle of Stanyan St. Eventually, someone poured a can of Budweiser on it to put out the fire.

As far as I can see, the only point to a flag-burning amendment would be to ban flag-burning as political protest. If I burn my own flag in my own home, for any reason, no one really cares. If I burn an old flag because that’s the approved way of disposing of an old flag, no one cares. If I burn someone else’s flag without their permission, that just as illegal as my destroying any other item of property without permission.

But why stop with the flag? Wouldn’t it be just as offensive to burn a map of the United States, or a picture of the great seal of the United States, or a picture of the President, or a picture of the Capitol? These are all national symbols, and burning those pictures is probablky equally offensive.

And if I make a mistake, and draw the flag with 11 stripes and 40 6-pointed stars, and burn that, can I defend myself by saying that it wasn’t really the United States flag?

While I don’t understand how anyone could claim that burning the flag isn’t disrespectful I would certainly agree that it’s free speech and we’ve got better things to worry about. We always have something more important than flag burning to worry about I don’t care what year it is.


And god help you if you leave an apple pie in the oven too long.

What an astonishingly dense mixture of American sybolism is contained in those three lines.

I actually find symbolic political protest to be a sign of patriotism. Not effective on its own, but it’s an attention grabber.

I too was wondering whether the thread was only about American flags in America, given the response. I’ve seen plenty of flags burnt, mainly Israeli, but a couple of American ones too. As this was all in Britain, it probably doesn’t have a lot to do with the American constitution, but you never know…

Both the American Legion and the Boy Scouts of America destroy their old flags by burning (sometimes with a little ceremony) because they feel it is more respectful then balling it up and throwing it in the trash. Given that these are two of the most patriotic groups in the US, I think we can safely say they mean no disrespect, and that burning the flag therefore, is not necessarily disrespectful.

Of course the Amendment could be altered to only illegalize Burning done as a form of protest, but that would make it an even worse smackdown of free speech.

I saw someone burn an American flag in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in 1989 or 1990. It was during the first Bush administration (a coincidence, surely) and the proposed amendment was having a few weeks of media exposure. Some friends of mine were hosting a backyard barbecue, and someone brought a small polyester flag (on a plastic flagpole about the length of pixie stix), and someone else fired up a Bic and set our fragile heritage aflame. Then we drank beer and listened to Sonic Youth.

That’s my anecdote. To the “debate,” if there is one, I have nothing to contribute.

That’s a silly bit of logic you’ve got going there but I admit that I half-way expected someone to use it. Yes, the proper way to dispose of the flag is to burn it but that also includes doing it in a dignified manner. Burning a flag during a protest is not the proper way to burn the flag and is therefore disrespectful. We dispose of bodies by buring them or doing something with the ashes but most of us would consider it disrespectful to bury someone in a shallow unmarked grave on the side of the road or to throw their ashes in the dust bin. Context is pretty important, no?


Is this type of thing (pandering by wasting time with legislation it is known will not pass) pretty much exclusive to Republicans because of their religious-right base? Of have the Dems done similar things?

Some Democrats have jumped on the whole “protect our children from violent and sexy media” over the years but I can’t recall a desire for new Amendments.


The flag burning issue has always struck me as the most contrived and hollow debate in American politics (and we’re a society that loves contrived and hollow).

While I do think that flag burning should be a protected form of protest, it’s a pointless and mindlessly inflammatory sort of protest. Burning a flag is one of the surest ways to guarantee that no one listens to whatever point it is you’re trying to make. It’s a self-righteous fuck you that ends all dialog and cauterizes the resistance against your point of view. What’s the point of a protest that seeks to guarantee its own failure?

On the other hand, caring about symbols of freedom more than the freedom they intend to represent is muddled thinking at best. Most of the American flags I’ve seen burned have been on news stories about outlawing flag burning. If this amendment ever passes, there will be an unprecedented rash of flag burning. Those promoting these laws are goading people in to exactly the behavior they claim to want to stop, and they damn well know that they are. This isn’t motivated by a real concern for flags as much as a desire to proclaim some sort of patriotic superiority.

From a purely practical standpoint, no one’s patriotism is diminished by a flag being burned, and no one’s freedom is diminished by being told they can’t. It’s a non-issue on both sides. And yet it will bring people to the polls where education, healthcare, campaign reform, crime, social security, and a dozen other issues that actually *mean * something never seem to.