Re: Flag Burning Amendment

Oh, look. Another year passed, another idiotic debate on a flag-burning amendment to the US Constitution, as ever, just in time for July 4th. Funny how that works.

Rather than wind myself up on the matter, I commend those of you who have not seen it to last year’s post on the matter, in which I show just how easy it is to get around any flag-burning amendment, rendering it even more completely useless and stupid than it would be on its own. I expect to be posting this as a repeat every year around this time from now until the end of time itself, or at least until the end of the US Congress. A shame, that.

37 Comments on “Re: Flag Burning Amendment”

  1. speaking of burning flags I burned one with a reporter for the seattle times about 7 years ago…i have pictures…which if he ever runs for office or anything i will probably have to dig up in all my garbage and destroy…

    which brings up two questions:

    Do reporters ever run for office?


    Would it be unconstitutional to burn a picture of a burning american flag?

    side note: it was one of those small flags on a stick so there was no real fire hazard.

  2. My personal favorite argument in favor of a flag-burning ammendment came up in a local paper the last time this came around. The mother of a soldier killed in the first Gulf War wrote a long, impassioned letter to the editor about how she had a flag in her front yard to honor her son, and some antiwar activists stole it and burned it. She thought there should be a law against that. I was sitting there thinking “There is a law against that. Several, actually: Criminal Trespass, Theft, and Destruction of Property come to mind.”

    Aside from my general aversion to ammendments that limit rather than protecting rights, I really feel like a flag-burning ammendment is dumb because it’s asking for it. Protesters burn flags because it pisses people off. If people were to respond to flagburning by saying “awww… poor widdle protester can’t construct a logical and persuasive argument, so he has to resort to shock tactics… isn’t that cute? Does the poor widdle protester need to go sit in the corner while the grownups engage in meaningful discourse?” I seriously think people would stop burning flags. Getting all outraged about it just encourages them.

  3. Wow, first gay marriage, now flag burning, it’s almost like they are working down a hot button checklist.

    Now, what’ll be next, gun ownership, abortion, paedophiles or will it be a random terrorist alert?

  4. why is there a hamburgler in your flag?

    What hamburglar? You must be seeing things…

    Are you sure you’re feeling well?

  5. Ah, protecting the flag against desecration. Which will put us on the following list of nations that also protect their flags against nasty dissidents:


    I don’t want America in that sort of company, thank you.

  6. What an embarrassment this country’s become, huh? We’ll probably have more than three-thousand dead American soldiers by the time the elections roll around, and these assholes are bickering over burning the American flag?

    Tell ya what. Why don’t we just burn the Constitution and get it over with?

  7. Why don’t we just burn the Constitution and get it over with?

    But then what would Bush wipe his ass with?

  8. A suggestion for members of the Senate: Rather than moving to protect the flag, why don’t you reaffirm the liberty we are supposed to enjoy as citizens of this great country.

  9. Rhiannon_s,

    Wow, first gay marriage, now flag burning, it’s almost like they are working down a hot button checklist.

    You forgot immigration.

    And you are right, since they cannot succeed at the real issues it is time for the wedge issues. Don’t forget prayer in school.

    As an outsider this all seems very calculated and clear to me but it must work or they wouldn’t do it. It’s a little sad to see people manipulated like that but what can you do?

  10. Why is there a hamburgler in your flag?

    Follow the “Last year’s post” link to find out.

  11. All countries have these types of issues, issues that appear to an outsider to be de minimis, but generate great outcry. The Senate should be concerned with more important issues, like voting themselves another pay raise.

  12. The Senate should be concerned with more important issues, like voting themselves another pay raise.

    They don’t have to – if they do nothing (which is about all they ever do) they automatically get a $3300 pay raise next year. They would have to actually vote to not give themselves the raise.

    Yeah, like that’ll ever happen…

  13. I would love to know, what these oh-so-concerned-for -the-troops people think the military is for?

    Relief missions? Police actions? What?

  14. they automatically get a $3300 pay raise next year.

    a raise of that amount for a full-time minimum wage worker would almost take them over the poverty line.

    Too bad they shot that wage raise down. Nothing like looking inflation in the eye while not doing anything for the poorest folks in the nation for the tenth year in a row.

  15. Everyone’s aware that raising the minimum wage increases unemployment among the poorest in the country, right?

    Not that I’m suggesting they shouldn’t raise the minimum wage, but it’s simple supply & demand: if the price of something goes up, demand for it will drop, particularly when there are cheaper alternatives available (cf. illegal immigration). The “correct” answer on whether they should or shouldn’t raise the minimum wage should depend on what the market will bear, and whether the current minimum wage is being used to artificially lower that market wage for poor workers.

    Instead, of course, it almost totally depends on politics and who wants to present whom as “not doing anything about poverty.” Say what you want about Republicans/Democrats/etc., but it is not a slam dunk that raising the minimum wage is good for poor people, and not raising it is bad for them.

    Last point: In a world of multi-hundred million dollar deficits, the paltry amount we pay Congress has NOTHING to do with whether or not we raise the minimum wage. IMHO, putting the two in the same sentence is pure political baiting, nothing more.

  16. Bill,
    I would love to know, what these oh-so-concerned-for -the-troops people think the military is for?

    For keeping your Hummer supplied with gen-you-wine US certified 100% pure gasoline, of course!

  17. Brian,

    It’s kind of a sweet deal the Congress has got going regarding supply and demand, isn’t it?

    They could raise their pay 1000-fold and the demand would remain rock steady.

    It’s a good gig if you can get it.

  18. Tripp: Biodiesel baby, not a drop of foreign oil goes into my baby. McDonalds Best (ok, I guess, there used up WVO). 20mpg and not a bit of guilt.

  19. joshua corning

    Do reporters ever run for office?

    Republican Senator Pat Roberts (Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) was a reporter before be became a Senator. He took his BA in Journalism.

  20. Maybe it’s just a first step in a new Republican campaign against global warming. The CO2 produced by the vast quantities of flags being burned must contribute greatly to the problem.

  21. Bill: I have a lot of friends serving in the armed forces, and they didn’t sign up to go halfway around the world and risk getting blown out of someone else’s sandbox because our fearless leader got his boxers in a bundle about someone trying to assassinate his dad a decade prior. They signed up to serve their country and make Americans safer.

    Not to be a total isolationist the-world-can-go-screw pain in the ass, but seriously: what has the war in Iraq done to make Americans safer?

    I can understand our reasons for going into Afganistan. Taking out a terrorist organization that’s funding attacks against the US helps protect America. Iraq? Not so much. Even if he had WMDs, it had already been established long before we invaded that he had no viable way to get them across the pond.

    Bush fell prey to one of the classic blunders. The most famous, of couse, is never get involved in a land-war in Asia, But only slightly less well-known is never get in to it with a madman when absolutely nothing is on the line.

  22. Annalee? It’s kind of hard to feel safer when this moronic administration is constantly reminding us how terrified we’re supposed to be.

  23. Annalee, I assume you never served in the military, and as such, you don’t understand that once you sign the dotted line, it really doesn’t matter if you signed up for the great oppurtunities, or the amazing pay, you are at that time GI. (Government Issue). You don’t get to decide if the diplomatic action that you CIC is acceptable to you or not, you swore an oath to follow all lawful orders given to you. I understand that the youth of today might feel that foolowing an oath is just silly (sorta like paying back your student loans and the such). But guess what, it doesn’t matter a whit what you or they think. Kind of annoying no?

    They volunteered, not a single person was forced into our military, once they are there, they go and do what they are told.

    Unfortunately, our leaders have completely forgotten how to conduct a war (Which boils down to, kill them until they are tired of being killed and give in to our whims and demands).

    History shows us Athens failed in Syracuse – and doomed their democracy – not because they fought in the wrong place and at the wrong time, but because they weren’t ruthless enough. They had grown soft since their slaughter of every combat-age man and boy on the island of Melos, the enslavement of every woman and girl there. The democratic Athenians, in regards to Syracuse, thought that once engaged they could win without absolute commitment to winning, claim victory without being as ruthless and merciless as their Spartan and Syracusan enemies. The Athenians, once defeat loomed, turned against their own generals and political leaders – and their official soothsayers. If General Nicias or Demosthenes had survived their captivity and returned home, the people who sent them off with parades and strewn flower petals in their path would have ripped them limb from limb. They blamed their own leaders.

    Kinder gentler Military? I think not. Not if you want to sleep safely in your bed at night.

  24. I have had veterans tell me that they fought for that flag, and nobody should be allowed to desecrate it. I inform them that I spent 7 years in the Air Force myself, but I paid attention when I raised up my hand and swore to defend THE CONTITUTION. Anyone who thinks he has an military responsibility to defend the flag is sadly deluded.

  25. Bill,

    Biodiesel baby, Good on ya, although if everyone did that we’d have some real tough choices involving burning up our food.

    I’m confused about something you said to Annalee. You were refering to the youth of today and there lack of responsibility, or something like that, but I’m having a hard time reconciling that attitude with things I’ve read on your blog.

    On your blog you come across as one of those reckless youths. Am I misreading things?

  26. Bill, maybe you might want to address Annalee’s point instead of going off on some bizarre tangential strawman.

    Annalee didn’t say that they didn’t join the military to fight wars effectively. She said her military buds didn’t go into the military to fight dumb unnecessary wars that don’t help America.


    Hey Bill, go check out that “Flame Warriors” site. You’re right about having to follow “lawful” orders. But it’s the duty of a military member to defy unlawful orders right? Well some of us feel that going to war under false pretenses, and the recent attempt to butcher the constitution by changing it to specifically deny rights to certain American’s is pretty un-fucking-lawful. But are in a pretty tough situation when so many others are either ignorant of that or just don’t care and want to see the U.S. kick ‘ferriner’ ass.

  28. Thats just it guys, you don’t get to decide if you like an order or not. You follow the orders and file aprotest afterwards.

    If you are lucky and decide not follow the lawfully given order, it is during peacetime and you are just dishonrably discharged, if you do it during wartime, you can be shot.

    Do you follow the order to execute the unicorn-clutching 7 year old girl? I would gather most wouldn’t, would they be justified in not following that order, circumstances would be the deciding factor.

  29. “Thats just it guys, you don’t get to decide if you like an order or not.’

    Well, yes you do, but you still have to follow it. There is a saying in the maritime services that “You don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.” But again, I’m not discussing whether or not to follow orders we do not like, I’m talking about unlawful orders. The problem as I see it is that there are a bunch of people in the U.S. currently who believe that we can do whatever we want in the world lawful or not and there is no reasonable discussion about respecting the human rights of non-Americans or finding the rationale for why the U.S. is doing what it is. Anyone who tries is shouted down, called names, and told to move to (insert “axis of evil” nation most in the news here) and live with your buddy (insert “evildoing” dictator/terrorist here).

  30. Bill, I’m not suggesting that my buddies in uniform ought to start defying their orders. You asked what people who support our troops but don’t support the war thought soldiers were for; I replied that I thought they were for protecting US Americans and not for sending halfway around the world to tromp through a country that couldn’t do anything to hurt us before we went and stepped into firing range.

    As far as young people and oaths, I’m not really qualified to speak to that. As a Quaker, I have a religious objection to taking them. But your claim that young people are irresponsible is a little specious when talking about ‘young people’ (several of my friends in the armed forces are over 30) who are clearly responsible enough to make the choice to join the military to begin with. Whether they agree with the war or not, they know full well that they have a duty to follow their orders.

    That doesn’t mean that I can’t be scared for them and angry on their behalf. I’ve already lost one of the smartest, wisest, and kindest men I’ve ever known to this idiocy. He may have died a hero, but he shouldn’t have had to die at all.

  31. You would think that with all of the advances in f/x over the last thirty years that burning people in effigy would be on the rise again. Why waste time with the flag or some other symbol when you can protest the politician directly.

  32. AnnaLee,

    But your claim that young people are irresponsible

    I found that claim to be rather remarkable after visiting Bill’s blog. One entry told the tale of Bill and his pals (I think “Hate” and “Brownspot” were in the group) bar-hopping and looking for a fight. Bill cast himself in the “sober” role so he could be the protagonist but it still seemed to be the kind of thing one wouldn’t be mentioning on the internet.

  33. About soldiers and their intent in joining:

    Soldiers signed over a great portion of their autonomy for a purpose. Their purpose is the same as the nominal and usual purpose of the military, which is a good match. However, it is not necessarily the actual purpose to which the military is put, which is a bad match.
    By putting the military to improper purposes, we are not merely going against procedures, we are violating the trust of the soldiers.

    This is not to say that they should violate orders. The mess is in the civilian realm and needs a civilian solution.

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