The process of taking a flag of some sort and setting it on fire.

There is a big debate in the USA as to whether or not people should be allowed to burn the American flag. Some claim it to be free speech, others think the flag is too important to allow it to be burned.

Note that the Boy Scout handbook specifically states that the proper way to dispose of a worn or damaged flag is to burn it.

The question is: Is it is more damaging to use a symbol we attribute power to (such as a flag or swastika) in a "negative" way than it is to deny citizens that right?

I suggest that once laws are in action that prohibit activities that cause no DIRECT harm to another human being, the line between personal freedom and "the good of the whole" becomes dangerously fuzzy.

It would indeed be troubling to see an amendment to prevent flag burning. I agree that this could be a step to limiting other forms of legitimate expression.

It is ironic that mistreatement of the American flag for purely commercial purposes is ignored or even accepted. What I have in mind here are the huge American flags which typically fly over car dealerships (at least in the south). These flags fly in the rain, at night unilluminated and in shreds, all to show the "patriotism" of some business.

I find it much more offensive to see the callous disregard of our national symbol for economic or political purposes than to see it burned for honest protest.

I burnt the US flag several times in 1990. Mostly during the Gulf War.

But we (me and my friends in the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade) also held a flag burning on June 10th, 1990 (I think) on the steps of the Art Institute of Chicago.

We did this on the day after the US Supreme Court decided flag burning was free speech.

So there we were me, Jethro (what a brother know), Kevin, Juliette, Anika, Ed, Karyn and , well I don't remember who else, but there couldn't have been more than a dozen of us.

We were in turn surrounded by a ring of Chicago Cops who were in turn surrounded by a ring of photographers, reporters and other assorted media types.
We got down to business burning two or three flags we had ripped off the night before (cloth ones burn better than nylon or plastic ones). The jounalist got down to business taking pictures and getting sound bites and the cops just stood around pissed off that they couldn't bust us for burning the flag.

After that we went out to Java Jive for espresso. From there I called my Mom, who said, "where are you?"

I responded, "At Java Jive" She said, "I saw you on TV burning the flag. Don't come home." I said, "ok," and returned to my java. This was 7 days after graduating High School and I was pretty damn psyched to get the hell out of the house.

The upshot of the story is that this act of flagrant flag burning got me one of my 15 minutes of fame. Yep, Newsweek was at that flag burning and they put Jethro (what a brother know), Juliette and I into their swell magazine. We shared an article with some rapper from Florida who sang nasty songs about nasty sex. I don't remember his name.

If you want to check it out (the photo) go to the local library and find the issue of Newsweek with Madonna and Dick Tracy on the cover from June 1990. Then go to the flag burning article... I'm the kid holding the flaming flag wearing a kafiya and a Bob Marley t-shirt.

I'm an American, and even after serving my government's questionable goals in a relatively unpopular middle east campaign I'm still a patriot. I'm no fool, I'm not a blind patriot, but I do have some fairly firm principles. One of those principles is returning service for service rendered.

My nation has sheltered me in times of conflict and provided for me in times of poverty. Unlike many Americans who dislike their nation and its government so much, I have been to other countries, I have seen that we enjoy a standard of living not available to others. As a young man I felt it was my duty to return the freedom my nation offered by volunteering to help protect that feedom.

I no longer serve my nation in the military. That part of my life is over, but I still stand to be counted as a patriot. Having said that, the only thing that upsets me more than seeing someone burning an American flag in protest, is listening to people talk about how the practice should be banned.

The right to protest is one of the foundations of our federal government, and although I believe it is wrong, the right to burn flags in protest should be protected. To put a finer point on it; I believe flag burning in protest is the grossest display of the ungrateful and the ignorant, but, I would fight to the death to protect your right to do so.

Update: Albert Herring brought up the extremely good point that my wu was delinquent in not mentioning. If you are not a resident or member of the nation, then burning the flag in protest assumes an entirely different emotive response. An argument could certainly be made for resident aliens being ungrateful, but non-residents burning the flag of nation A while actually standing in nation B is quite different. That's just insulting, as I'm sure it is meant to be.

I’m sure that after President George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Address, many Americans are either caught up in a wave of patriotism or are appalled at the thought of going to war with Iraq. Flags will either be flown proudly or burned in protest depending on one’s point of view.

Now, I’m neither a flag waver nor a flag burner but I think that noted Socialist Norman Thomas, six time Presidential candidate, probably summed it best when he said….

”If you want a symbolic gesture, don't burn the flag; wash it.”

For my part, that’s a little advice, no matter what one's political leanings, that we could all learn from.

Flag burning is, in my opinion, an issue created out of the most strangest phantasmic piece of America political hoodoo.

To put it simply: People only burn the American flag because it annoys so many Americans. They don't know how or why it annoys them, and they don't really care. I can imagine a new Anti-American fundamentalist recruit being told about the flag burning tactic, and he'll go something like
"Seriously? I can piss off lots and lots of Americans really badly just be burning their flag? Some of them will even cry and rant and rave about it in sheer frustration? Naaaaaah! Are you sure? Get outta here! Whats the catch? I mean its a just a piece of cloth, well I was gonna go kill some American missionaries but this seems so much simpler... etc etc".

The two flags usually seen burnt on TV are the American and Israeli flags, generally, but not always, in Muslim countries. I've witnessed the British flag burnt once, but, well, you could tell the protestors heart wasn't in it really as everyone ran off to burn several American ones before the British flag had burnt out. And the British reaction here was either "Isn't that nice they think we're important enough to burn our flag!" or "Isn't that a bit silly? Someone could really get hurt with all the fire and petrol!"

True the British can be particulary phlegmatic about such things, but I'm sure if you burnt the French flag in France the worst that could happen would be getting laughed out of the room.

Flag burning is not about how patriotic a nation is, how powerful they are, or how many countries they've invaded - the whole bizarre issue is simply another very strange item from Planet Americana.

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