Have you ever seen a more punch-able face in your life? Friends, Veterans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. But before you do I would like for you to take all your preconceived opinion on flag burning and put them into a nicely sealed jar beside you. You see, there are patriotic men and women, many veterans, with differing opinions on whether or not one should be allowed to burn the flag. One could try to characterize this as good versus evil, but really it’s a lot more like the Jets and Sharks from West Side Story. Just a couple of street gangs to trying live their lives as best they know how and there is no real bad guy in the movie. And thus for the sake of star crossed lovers, I’m going to try and get the two of you to find some common ground and make out like Tony and Maria. And yes, I’m a little ashamed at how much of the plot line I remember about West Side Story. Don’t judge me. Old Glory my friends, to burn or not to burn that is the question.
The Rules of the Street Fight
Currently on the books are several laws exacting penalties for burning a flag. However, still the broader law of the land the Supreme Court declared burning the flag as an expression of speech. Wrestling with these seemingly incongruous elements is more a matter of emotion than objective legality. Personally, I’ve never been really sure what I would do if I saw a protestor burning the flag. Would I be the Veteran who charges ahead and rescues Old Glory from the clutches of ignorance or would I just sit back and marvel at the stupidity of it all? Then, if you were wiping your butt with the flag I would just be like, “lady you nasty.”
I do, however, believe that people live too much of their lives with a far too reasonable expectation that they will not get punched in the face for the things they do. I’m not glorifying assault, I’m just saying that if you mess with the bull long enough don’t complain when you get the horns. If you are undertaking an incendiary act for the public to see, don’t be surprise when the public reacts. Actions have consequences even if unintended.
But that is how I personally feel about flag burners. To me, they are literally that stupid. Burning a flag is the lowest form of activism for it actually changes nothing and abounds in ignorance. Social change comes by enrolling Americans into your vision and flag burning turns off patriotic individuals who might otherwise join your cause because they believe in what you are trying to accomplish. Whether or not it is legal is completely irrelevant when you consider that the entire act is unproductive to begin with. And, it must just reasonably get you punched in the face. You might claim you should be free from assault while exercising your 1st amendment rights, but I’ll claim a higher ancient law that says if you act like a dick you might get punched.
The Canary Pigeon of Freedom
All that to say, as long as Americans are allowed to take such incendiary acts towards our own government I feel confident that liberty still abounds in America. You see tyranny is not as far away from the human condition as one might think. Even among our founders, it was patriot John Adams who signed the Alien and Sedition act which made it illegal to criticize the government. That’s right, a founding father made it illegal to criticize the government when he was the one in Power. If it can happen to them I promise you that it can happen to us.
So we really ought to check ourselves before we are too quick to insist on penalties for such acts although we rightfully hate them. The problem with tyranny is much like the problem with socialism in that neither knows when to stop. So in America, take extraordinary efforts to fight them whenever it may raise its head. Just because you like a law or social program doesn’t make it any less tyrannical or socialist. The human condition has proven that we are not so opposed to tyranny so long as it is a tyranny of our preference and as such, we must guard our hearts vigilantly. When it is no longer possible to criticize our government in the most-vile form possible I fear what is around the corner. Could it be that flag burning is but a canary pigeon in the mine shaft of freedom?
To Burn or Not to Burn
I think for a resounding majority of Americans, they would certainly preference you not burn the flag. More than that, they likely want to punch you in the face should you do so. However, the split is merely over whether or not you are allowed to and does it serve some purpose of liberty in our nation. That’s it folks. Who says a white boy from New York can’t get it on with a Puerto Rican girl? Jets and Sharks my friends.
A flag’s value is imbued upon it by the mind, heart, and intellect of each individual. And if someone is so stupid as to burn the flag that enables them to act as such, then they lack the mental capacity to assign it any value. To them it is just a piece of cloth and to us with sound mind, we can simply look at the smoke and flames as the fiery soul of our American liberty. Then you know if you are really that upset about, pow, bang, zap, boom. I’m not recommending violence my friends, I’m just reminding the fools of the world that a higher law exists which says violence is entirely possible.
My personal ruling? Should you burn the flag, no. Should you be able to burn the flag, most certainly yes. Should you be free from the consequence of being a dick, absolutely not. What say you my friends and let’s keep this debate Jets and Sharks type civil.
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