Flag Burning

The Hand of Mockery

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So basically...

   Many US states have laws against flag burning. In 1989 the Texas vs. Johnson Supreme Court decision ruled that laws against flag burning are unconstitutional. Yet, to this day people who burn flags are often temporarily arrested and harassed by cops who disagree with their points of view. Just recently, Congress proposed an amendment that would make it downright illegal and punishable to burn the American flag.

Hold your death threats

   Before I continue and give my opinion on this matter, I want to make a few things clear. I am not anti-American. I am anti-ignorant and anti-stupid. In recent years it has become rather difficult to tell the difference between the two, but I am fully aware that a difference does exist. The latest presidential election made it clear to me that just under half of all American voters are actually reasonable and likable people. On the other hand, the other (slightly larger) half are people fueled by blind patriotism, and make no mistake: they are the reason why people outside of the US would be tempted to burn an American flag in the first place. Furthermore, I have never burnt any flag of any sort in my life. I think it is an inefficient way of making a point. Having said all that, I'll continue with my article.

Blind Patriotism

   A flag is not a holy object. A flag is not a living thing. A flag is a piece of cloth. And nothing else. Ever since September 11th, many Americans have turned to patriotism for comfort. And don’t get me wrong, I think patriotism is a good thing. But when you allow it to dictate your life, it leaves little room for rational thought. Flag burning is a form of peaceful protest. It’s that simple. If these protesters were burning people, I’d see your point of view. But they’re not. Besides, the US prides itself in being a “free” society. Freedom of speech is supposedly the thing that America prides itself on the most. And by limiting people’s rights to protest, you’re taking it away. Silencing those who disagree with you is something you would expect from a militaristic government.

And what about the Boy Scouts?

   Boy Scouts have been burning flags for years. According to Boy Scout tradition, it’s the only dignified way to dispose of one. Yet the amendment that Congress proposed clearly states that organizations such as Boy Scouts may burn the American flag without penalty. So therefore, if this law is passed, protesters wouldn’t be arrested for the actual burning of the flag, but rather for their way of thinking, which is just another step closer to 1984.

Reverse Effect

   So what exactly would be the effect if Congress passed this law? Believe it or not, I can almost guarantee you that the number of flag burnings per year would actually increase. Why? Well think about it. People who are against this amendment would run onto the streets and start setting fire to flags, simply to protest laws which limit our freedom of speech. What we would get would be the exact thing that Congress was trying to put an end to in the first place. Furthermore, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Congress passes this law and no one attempts to protest it. Even so, the law would still only be effective in the US. And let’s be honest; most burnings of the American flag occur outside of the US, not inside.

Aren’t there more pressing issues?

In the end, it’s up to the Senate. They’re the elected officials, not me. And if they want to make it illegal to burn the flag, they have every right to do so. On the other hand, by making it a crime, they have lost all credibility when it comes to freedom of speech. Congress in a big hurry to ban flag burning, and yet they’ve done as little as possible to put an end to organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan. Why? Because it’s freedom of speech. Okay, but if you can make an exception for something as trivial as flag burning, you can damn well make an exception for some racist, white-supremacist backwoods redneck fuckers. So don’t give me that all-American bullshit about how the first amendment defends the rights of an organization that has stood for hate, violence and racism for many decades and yet fails to defend the rights of people who set fire to some cloth. It’s tiresome and it makes you look like a hypocrite. And maybe if you set your priorities straight, people wouldn’t be burning your flag in the first place.


…Ahem. I’m sorry. Did I get carried away there? Well no matter. That’s the end of this article anyways. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got to go pull a flagpole out of Senator Orrin Hatch’s ass.

Feedback? Submissions? Suggestions? Or maybe you just want to tell me how much of your time I wasted by making this website? Email me at pey@thehandofmockery.com.