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Old 1st October 2020, 11:20 AM   #1
BobTheCoward
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Best argument for banning flag burning?

I went looking for good arguments for banning flag burning. The argument is mostly that people really care about it as a symbol for them.

But the more people really, really, really care about this thing that is so symbolic, the more clear it becomes that burning it is a symbolic act of speech communicating something.

1) is anti flag burning one of the worst cases of special pleading?

2) what is the best argument you can come up with for banning flag burning?
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:23 AM   #2
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It vexes the vexillophiles.
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:33 AM   #3
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Carbon monoxide is produced when flags are burnt! Will no-one think of the children?
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:34 AM   #4
theprestige
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I can come up with two most excellent arguments:

1) It's unsafe.

2) It's hate speech.

If you own a warehouse full of fertilizer, you should probably ban flag burning in and around the warehouse. Likewise, you should probably ban flag burning in kindergarten classrooms and onboard airplanes (which are already unsafe enough as it is).

Going out in front of someone's home or church and burning a flag because you hate the people inside and want to send them a message of hatred and intimidation, should probably be banned. Likewise holding a march, parade, or other demonstration to protest against the people you hate, and burning a flag as part of that protest, should probably also be banned.
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:39 AM   #5
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Forest floors are in severe need of raking, creating a severe risk of wildfires.
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:42 AM   #6
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Technically speaking according to the US Flag Code it's actually the preferred way of disposing of them?

//In less flippant seriousness I've actually always hated when that little factoid gets thrown out in serious discussion of flag burning, as if people are honestly think that what anyone is talking about is flag disposal and/or the difference between flag disposal and burning one in protest is hard to grasp.
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:42 AM   #7
BobTheCoward
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post

Going out in front of someone's home or church and burning a flag because you hate the people inside and want to send them a message of hatred and intimidation, should probably be banned. Likewise holding a march, parade, or other demonstration to protest against the people you hate, and burning a flag as part of that protest, should probably also be banned.
Ban the skokie klan marches?
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:43 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
I went looking for good arguments for banning flag burning. The argument is mostly that people really care about it as a symbol for them.

But the more people really, really, really care about this thing that is so symbolic, the more clear it becomes that burning it is a symbolic act of speech communicating something.

1) is anti flag burning one of the worst cases of special pleading?

2) what is the best argument you can come up with for banning flag burning?
Just another usual load of usual nonsense ...

There are cases where flag burning is legally required, therefore it makes no sense to ban flag burning.
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Old 1st October 2020, 11:44 AM   #9
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Waste of perfectly good Chinese sweatshop labor. Also needless pollution.

Can't these cats get in the 21st century and Photoshop their freedoms online like the rest of
Us?
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:02 PM   #10
theprestige
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Ban the skokie klan marches?
I have no opinion about that.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:04 PM   #11
theprestige
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Originally Posted by Crossbow View Post
Just another usual load of usual nonsense ...

There are cases where flag burning is legally required, therefore it makes no sense to ban flag burning.
To be fair, laws can be written to handle different cases differently. Lots of laws actually are written that way.

So you could easily have a set of laws about flag burning that require it in some cases but ban it in others.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:07 PM   #12
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It's usually the people who get so upset about flag burning, and are so insistent on "respecting the flag!!!" who are also the ones most likely to squeeze their carcasses into flag-adorned apparel. I'm sure there are better ways to respect a flag than to sweat through it at a picnic, and drop food on it. Wear a flag thong if you want, but don't imagine that the flag is best honored by caressing your taint.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:13 PM   #13
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Don't burn the flag, burn the flag factory - otherwise it will just get replaced.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
It's usually the people who get so upset about flag burning, and are so insistent on "respecting the flag!!!" who are also the ones most likely to squeeze their carcasses into flag-adorned apparel. I'm sure there are better ways to respect a flag than to sweat through it at a picnic, and drop food on it. Wear a flag thong if you want, but don't imagine that the flag is best honored by caressing your taint.

For what it's worth, the laws about respecting the flag apply specifically to the flag itself. Other things bearing the same pattern aren't flags, and aren't subject to the law.

Taking a flag and converting it into a poncho is illegal disrespect for the flag.

Taking a poncho and printing a flag-like pattern on it is not.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:25 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
It's usually the people who get so upset about flag burning, and are so insistent on "respecting the flag!!!" who are also the ones most likely to squeeze their carcasses into flag-adorned apparel. I'm sure there are better ways to respect a flag than to sweat through it at a picnic, and drop food on it. Wear a flag thong if you want, but don't imagine that the flag is best honored by caressing your taint.
Their own behavior just elevates flag burning's symbolic value as speech. I don't quite get it.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:31 PM   #16
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There are no good reasons to ban flag burning. It's a piece of cloth.

Actually the concept of a flag code as the one in the US is just silly and akin to blasphemy laws in other parts of the world.

It's a piece of cloth. Get over it.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:31 PM   #17
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We debate it in one of my classes. I had a veteran who exploded at another student, "You might as well light my own mother on fire!" I tried to bring some calm, "Really, Charlie? It's like setting your mother on fire?" "Yes, sir." He stormed out of the room, out of the building, smoked cigarettes, came back after we finished, shook my hand, and apologized. He was a third-generation Marine or something. He was from Texas and had been in Iraq. He was also ****** up. Probably still is.

I've had veterans say "people died for that flag."
"Did they literally die for a particular flag or for what it represents?"
No, they apparently died for fabric. Idiots.

There are people who get pedantic and cite flag code disposal (as above). I clarify that the reason people ceremonially burn those (worn) flags is to ensure the flag goes to heaven. In the past fifteen years, I can say young people seem to give less of a **** about Old Glory. Incoming students were not alive for 9/11, so virtually none of the outlaw-it arguments resonate with them. They would probably get more upset if someone decided to burn the Qu'ran.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:37 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
We debate it in one of my classes. I had a veteran who exploded at another student, "You might as well light my own mother on fire!"
You should have gotten a can of gasoline and a lighter, and asked for her name and address. I mean, anything to oblige.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:40 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
For what it's worth, the laws about respecting the flag apply specifically to the flag itself. Other things bearing the same pattern aren't flags, and aren't subject to the law.

Taking a flag and converting it into a poncho is illegal disrespect for the flag.

Taking a poncho and printing a flag-like pattern on it is not.
I spoke of respect, not the law. I don't think those are the same thing, do you?
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:47 PM   #20
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Because it hurts veterans feelings. And we care about their feelings. Their health and mental well being, not so much, but protecting their feelings is free!
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:51 PM   #21
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Demanding respect for a flag is idolatry, attempting to elevate inanimate objects to the level of God. Veneration of a flag is a direct and mortal sin and a violation of the very first Commandment. Anyone who respects a flag is going to hell for it, unless they repent.

It may not be the best argument, but it's one that actually won court cases. Sometimes you gotta fight crazy with crazy.
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:55 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
I spoke of respect, not the law. I don't think those are the same thing, do you?
I don't think they're the same thing. But I think the one can inform the other, and give insights into how these things are viewed.

I think it's reasonable to have respect for the flag, such that you won't even wear a t-shirt with a picture of the flag on it.

I think it's also reasonable to have respect for the flag, and see a t-shirt with a picture of a flag as a celebration of that respect, distinct from the question of respectful treatment for physical flags as such.

I think those are both reasonable positions. I don't think a "respect the flag" law is necessary, and I'd probably rather we didn't have it. But I do appreciate that the authors of the law didn't go so far as to criminalize casual or frivolous depictions of the flag for being "disrespectful".
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:57 PM   #23
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are their rules against physically hugging the flag, in the code?
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Old 1st October 2020, 12:59 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by erlando View Post
Actually the concept of a flag code as the one in the US is just silly and akin to blasphemy laws in other parts of the world.
Since the flag code is unenforceable as a matter of law, it's functionally more akin to Emily Post's Etiquette.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:02 PM   #25
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I notice there's none of the "Play stupid games, win stupid prizes" talk here though.

Cross burning is a little different because that imagery is so wrapped up in racial violence and in the KKK, but in general if you make some big show of destroying of symbol of something people really love simply in order to piss them off and succeed in pissing them off there's a certain mentality there that gets trotted out with fair regularity that is noticeably missing here.

If someone burned a gay pride flag outside of GLAAD headquarters and got punched in the face someone in the ensuing discussion about it would make the wishy-washy "Oh I'm totally not saying it was right for the guy to get punched... BUT..." argument.

When Charlie Hebbo got shot up for publishing imagery of the Prophet Mohammed a lot of criticism was tempered with some minor variation on a "But what did they expect / should have seen it coming / you play with fire you get burned" style aside.

Flag burning should not be illegal in a free country. But I think people are putting on a little bit of a showy attitude in pretending they don't understand why anyone would have any issue with it.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:02 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by gregthehammer View Post
are their rules against physically hugging the flag, in the code?
It's okay so long as nobody gets a boner.



The same rule applies to a wide range of activity, really.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:06 PM   #27
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I always worry that when the President gets too close to a bible, flag, or dictionary, that something is going to burst into flames.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:07 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Cross burning is a little different because that imagery is so wrapped up in racial violence and in the KKK
That's part of it, but I don't think that's quite enough on its own. I don't think you can outlaw burning a cross on your own property, that probably still runs afoul of the 1st amendment. Burning a cross on someone else's property, though, can be taken as a threat and therefore not protected speech.

Quote:
Flag burning should not be illegal in a free country. But I think people are putting on a little bit of a showy attitude in pretending they don't understand why anyone would have any issue with it.
Yeah, that's a pretty strange mindset. I'm all for keeping it legal for all the standard free speech reasons, but none of that means people can't or even shouldn't be offended by it. That's really the entire point of doing the act: to offend people. That should never be illegal, and sometimes it's even justified, but if you're going to do it, you should always understand that that's what you're doing.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:17 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post

Flag burning should not be illegal in a free country. But I think people are putting on a little bit of a showy attitude in pretending they don't understand why anyone would have any issue with it.
And I get why someone who takes offense is motivated to find a reason to ban it. But the reason they find seems to be offended. If you are going to do something pretextual, make the pretext good.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:29 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
And I get why someone who takes offense is motivated to find a reason to ban it. But the reason they find seems to be offended. If you are going to do something pretextual, make the pretext good.
For me, "pretext" is usually synonymous with "pretense". But I don't see any pretense to the argument that flag burning should be banned because it is offensive. I also don't think it's a particularly bad argument. I don't find it persuasive, but I also don't think it's bad by nature.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:32 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Cain View Post
"Did they literally die for a particular flag or for what it represents?"
What does it represent?
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:32 PM   #32
BobTheCoward
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
For me, "pretext" is usually synonymous with "pretense". But I don't see any pretense to the argument that flag burning should be banned because it is offensive. I also don't think it's a particularly bad argument. I don't find it persuasive, but I also don't think it's bad by nature.
It would make sense if the proposal was, "ban everything that offends me." That is an honest argument.

But ban flag burning while keeping speech that offends them (if that is their position) seems like special pleading.
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:43 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
It would make sense if the proposal was, "ban everything that offends me." That is an honest argument.

But ban flag burning while keeping speech that offends them (if that is their position) seems like special pleading.
Many laws include caveats or exceptions for special cases. Many laws recognize a gradation in the severity of social harm, and require a certain grade of severity before criminalizing the attendant harm.

But you say, "if that is their position". It might help clarify our thoughts if you gave examples of actual positions that are held by specific people or groups. If? If it's not their position, what's to debate? Their? Who are they, and how do we know what their position actually is?
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Old 1st October 2020, 01:49 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Many laws include caveats or exceptions for special cases. Many laws recognize a gradation in the severity of social harm, and require a certain grade of severity before criminalizing the attendant harm.

But you say, "if that is their position". It might help clarify our thoughts if you gave examples of actual positions that are held by specific people or groups. If? If it's not their position, what's to debate? Their? Who are they, and how do we know what their position actually is?
What there is to debate are a bunch of hypothetical positions.
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Old 1st October 2020, 02:00 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
What there is to debate are a bunch of hypothetical positions.
Such as?
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Old 1st October 2020, 02:00 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
I always worry that when the President gets too close to a bible, flag, or dictionary, that something is going to burst into flames.
I just ordered a copy of The Dictionary of Biblical Flags and am sending it on as a gift to our beloved president.

A tasteless joke:

Q: Why don't things burst into flames around Trump?
A:
Because he's powerfully retardant.
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Old 1st October 2020, 02:02 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by RolandRat View Post
What does it represent?
The flag represents a place that respects the flag. It's recursive! which makes it doubly valid.
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Old 1st October 2020, 02:02 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Such as?
Whatever you wish to proffer.


ETA: the real arguments for it are pretty bad. I think we can do better.

Last edited by BobTheCoward; 1st October 2020 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 1st October 2020, 02:05 PM   #39
Sideroxylon
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Adds to air pollution and is wasteful.
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Old 1st October 2020, 02:13 PM   #40
TragicMonkey
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It's boring. Flag-burning has been done so many times, for so many causes. It lost its shock value even before it lost its originality, so all it does now is lose interest. If someone wants to amaze and surprise and horrify and draw attention they need to get creative and do something else. Burning flags is the lazy, can't be bothered option. If protest symbolism were yearbook comments, flag burning would be "have a great summer!" Yawn. Bring a book. Burn the book, at least that's still got a bit of shock in it.
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