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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Default Flag Burning and the Constitution

    Question: Is flag burning free speech? Or is it an inappropriate destruction of a symbol?

    On June 27, 2006, the Senate failed to pass the Flag Desecration Amendment by one vote with 66 senators in favor of banning flag burning and 34 opposed to the amendment. The House of Representatives had already passed the amendment with more than 280 votes earlier in the summer of 2005. The combination of election year politics and a series of culture war proposals by the Republican Congress, including gay marriage and English as the official language of the United States, led to the attempted passage of the amendment. While the political argument for and against passage are fairly obvious, there is a strong legal argument against amending the constitution to prevent flag desecration, including flag burning during protests.

    The core argument for those who oppose the flag desecration amendment is the First Amendment provision of a right to free speech, which is seen by many to include the destruction of symbols like the flag. The First Amendment defense is strengthened by the Supreme Courtís decision in Texas v. Johnson (1989), which stated that the idea of expressive conduct protected protesters burning the American flag from legal action. There is also a more far flung idea that the American flag can be purchased by an individual, making it private property and giving their flag burning the protection of private property inherent in the Fifth Amendment.

    Those advocates of the passage of the flag desecration amendment rely on the historical tradition of the American flag as a symbol of freedom and democracy. As such a symbol, amendment proponents feel that it is sacrosanct and any desecration or destruction of the flag falls along a spectrum from undignified to traitorous. As well, local ordinances against starting fires in public spaces have been used to prevent people from burning flags as a public safety issue. These sentimental and technical arguments against flag burning pale in comparison legally to the power of the First Amendment and the well-defined position of the Supreme Court on this issue. However, there is nothing to say that in the future a more conservative leaning Supreme Court would not overturn the Texas decision. For the moment, it seems that flag desecration will remain a campaign issue for Democrats and Republicans who have failed to get substantive legislative agendas through Congress.

    http://law.suite101.com/article.cfm/...e_constitution

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Florida
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    435

    Talking Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    I don't see it as a 1st ammendment free speech issue. I see it as a personal property rights issue.

    if own a flag, or anything else for that matter, why should the gov't be allowed to tell me that I cannot destroy it? obviously there are ordinances that govern burning, and some places require permits.... wah, wah, wah.

    if it belongs to me, it is up to me what happens to it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    I suggest this:

    anytime a government restricts the actions of its citizens, not to protect the rights of all of its citizens, but to enforce it's own agenda, it is no longer a democracy but some other form of government that is not "of the people, by the people and for the people"

    The restriction of burning the flag, although a patriotic gesture, throws the rights of the citizens out the window. While any patriotic American citizen will grouse at the site of a burning flag, they should also enjoy the fact that because of our freedoms, we are allowed protest an action of our government in this manner. Restricting the burning of the flag will not cause every citizen to respect the flag, it will merely cause a superficial representation of such. A false facade, if you will.

    Even God realized that graven images were not a true representation of the intended. A flag is merely a representation of our country and has no value if it is a requirement to respect it but only if respect is given freely ad willingly.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    Flag burning, in my opinion shows treason. You burn the flag in anarchy, thus trying to create a movement against the government.

    Also, when you are protesting and you start a fire, that then elevates the protest out of the definition of a "peaceful protest", and you're only gaurenteed your right to petition the government - not to be an anarchist.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Florida
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    Default Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    but I don't want to burn the flag to promote anarchy. I want to burn it because I can. much like if I want to buy a flag for a sports team and burn it, same thing... it belongs to me, i can burn it if I want. the goverment has no right to interfere.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    38,867

    Default Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    One definition of treason:

    In law, treason is the crime of disloyalty to one's nation. A person who betrays the nation of their citizenship and/or reneges on an oath of loyalty and in some way willfully cooperates with an enemy, is considered to be a traitor. Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as: "...[a]...citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]."
    Burning a flag comes nowhere near treason. By your definition JoeW, anything short of complete submission to the government would be a treasonous act.

    Also, your attempt of trying to remove this as peaceful protest:
    Who said anybody was protesting? If I burn a flag in my yard with no observers, would that be a protest? Of course not but if it was illegal to burn a flag, it would still be illegal to burn the flag in my yard.

    Even in a protest, it is not an attempt to dislodge the government, merely to draw attention to some subject.

    Your belief of it being treasonous or the act of an anarchist is ridiculously far from the truth and an extreme overreaction.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    19

    Default Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    Wow, I don't think burning the flag as anywhere near treason. It is a symbol, which makes it a strong tool for protestors to show their offense at American policies. God forbid people be given the right to protest faulty foreign and domestic policies...as well, is there a trend toward flag burning that I haven't noticed? I have been to a number of rallies and protests and have not seen one flag burnt or damaged in any way. I would never own a gun but I don't think the Second Amendment should be overturned or amended. In the same way, people who think flag burning is wrong shouldn't dictate how someone expresses their political beliefs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
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    Florida
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    Default Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    not so much a trend, as that they tried to pass a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration. it was ridiculous.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Flag Burning and the Constitution

    I personally find this ridiculous because the proper way to discard a flag is to ceremonially burn it. I've seen military guys dressed up burning a flag that used to hang on their flag pole and just got too tattered.

    as for the speech/protest, it's been said before

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