Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Flag Desecration and Free Speech

NOTE* The inspiration for what follows was a series of pictures taken at Montibello High School in California on March 27th, 2006. The photos depict a group of students (apparently mostly Hispanic or Latino) who removed the American flag and then replaced it, upside down, with the Mexican flag flying ABOVE the inverted U.S. flag. I posted these photos and asked students to answer these questions: Free Speech...When does it become a threat? Is this particular form of "speech protected (or SHOULD it be protected) and do you think that this was what the founders had in mind when the approved the First Amendment. Is this manner of speech "dangerous" and can (or should) it be regulated because it is intended to incite violence?

I AM offended by flag-burning and ANGRY at flag-desecrators. The reason is NOT because of the physical act, but because of the SYMBOLIC act. The question before us is whether that particular form of speech is destructive in any meaningful way. The lines will be drawn in accordance with what you mean by "meaningful".

When I swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the United States, it is understood that I am not protecting the physical document, but the PRINCIPLES that it articulates, and the PRINCIPLES that define us as Americans. There are DEGREES (or gradiations) of threat to those principles, but, clearly, at some point, a LINE has to be drawn. At some point, disagreement becomes defiance, and defiance becomes destructive. All who swear the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America are OBLIGATED (read: DUTY-BOUND) to DEFEND against destruction. At some point, EROSION of PRINCIPLE has the same result as DESTRUCTION of PRINCIPLE. There HAS to be a LINE where ACTION is required. Perhaps a graduated approach of increasing punishment or consequences (such as: fine for first offense, jail for second offense, deportation for third offense, and death for fourth offense) could be applied in the present case.

IF those students were to engage in a civil (polite) discussion- a public forum- where their specific grievences were aired, evaluated, and assessed as to their relevance (in the context of the broader public) and a specific plan was discussed to mitigate the undesirablle consequences brought about by their grievance, then I would have no problem with their exercise of free speech. But when they descrate the flag openly, publicly, wickedly, (place another sovereign nation's flag above) they display MUCH MORE than merely a dissatisfaction with some issue; they are attacking the fundamental principles of America. I DO NOT BELEIVE that that conduct should be legal, nor tolerated. (see above for suggestions as to punishment). Mob conduct is not, in my opinion, a protected form of free speech as envisioned by the founders.

I BELIEVE in FREEDOM OF SPEECH, especially policital and religious speech! When you tell me however, that you HATE America, and WANT to DESTROY her foundations, AND TAKE THE FIRST STEP (action) towards that end, then it's time to END TOLERATION! (saying you hate America is one thing, but publicly descrating the flag and all that it symbolizes, is (for me) entirely different. For the record, I KNOW what the Supreme Court has said on the issue and how the standards have been seriously relaxed in recent years. I am wondering whether the issue should be revisited. SHOULD the law promote principles of honor, courage, and integrity? SHOULD the law promote awareness of personal sacrifice and patriotic service? Lord knows, it is being used to promote a lot of contrary values! I DO understand, and agree, that the law should reflect the values of the majority, while not coercing the minority. Still, there will always be lines that will have to be drawn.

Consider the following:

Give to us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for—because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.~~Peter Marshall (1902–67) Senate chaplain, prayer offered at the opening of the session, April 18, 1947
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing" Attributed to Sir Edmund Burke (17291797) was an Irish political philosopher, Whig politician, and statesman

"Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? " - Corinthians 5:6-8 Paul explaining to the Corinthian Church that tolerating a little bit of evil will corrupt the entire congregation.

From runny noses to indigestion, headaches to strained muscles, symptoms are our body's way of warning us that something is wrong. Ignoring symptoms in your body may lead to irreversible damage of (heart, lungs, infections, blood pressure, blurred vision, etc. etc. etc.) and death. This is the body's way of warning us to take action sooner rather than later.

What think ye, scholars??

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