Time to Die of Embarrassment
June 23, 2005 2:01 PM   Subscribe

US House passes flag-burning ban If this makes it past the Senate, then I will finally have irrefutable proof that the majority of both houses of Congress are braindead zombies.
posted by Chasuk (80 comments total)

 
And as long as the vote is open, let me tack on this here rider provision....
posted by Smedleyman at 2:05 PM on June 23, 2005


Why this is a good thing.
and
Why this doesn't matter.
posted by numlok at 2:08 PM on June 23, 2005


That bill comes up every year, and it's always passed by the House. It hasn't made it past the Senate yet.
posted by clevershark at 2:09 PM on June 23, 2005


"Similar moves in the past have failed to gather the three-thirds majority required for constitutional amendments in both houses of the US Congress."

Whew, I'm glad flag-burning amendments need a three-thirds majority! Won't have to worry about this any time soon!
posted by gurple at 2:14 PM on June 23, 2005


Its nice to know that our elected representatives have finally finished up with the economy, war in Iraq and all the other much more pressing concerns so that they can now focus on this completely stupid issue.

Oh wait, you mean they haven't finished everything else? Then what in the fuck are they doing wasting my money by debating this retardedly stupid legislation that no one except uber-patriots give a damn about? Trying to redirect attention from their many, many failings and investigations and backroom buggery? Same old news on a new day.
posted by fenriq at 2:14 PM on June 23, 2005


Wow. Scalzi's in fine form on numlok's two links. Bravo.
posted by COBRA! at 2:16 PM on June 23, 2005


If this makes it past the Senate...

It has a better chance of making it past the Senate than it does of making it past dios' without his "newsfilter" post.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:16 PM on June 23, 2005


Its nice to know that our elected representatives have finally finished up with the economy, war in Iraq and all the other much more pressing concerns so that they can now focus on this completely stupid issue.

Wow, it's false dichotomy hour on Metafilter!

Not that I don't completely agree with you in principle. I just get sick of that line of reasoning. I've got a whole lot of shit I'd like our lawmakers to work on before that mythical future day when we've finished up with all economic woes and (probably several years later) the war in Iraq.
posted by gurple at 2:18 PM on June 23, 2005


I think the fact that one can legally burn a U.S. flag is one of the few cool things left about living in the United States. I wonder what these anti-freedom-to-burn-the-flag people are afraid of? I think this country is strong enough to survive have a cloth or plastic symbol of it burned. If burning the flag will cause the United States to crumble, it wasn't standing on much to start with.
posted by marxchivist at 2:20 PM on June 23, 2005


will finally have irrefutable proof that the majority of both houses of Congress are braindead zombies.

This is basically the same group of people who seriously debated, and then passed "Freedom Fries" and you need more proof.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:22 PM on June 23, 2005


I'm sympathetic to your point, gurple, but I think most folks' ire is less prone to accusations of false dichotomy simply because this isn't the only stupid pet (hot-button yet largely irrelevant) sociocultural issue that Congress invests so much time in. Think more like back-breaking-straw as opposed to isolated "news-of-the-weird" outlier. But that's just my take.

I think this bit from numlok's second link sums it up nicely:" ... the stupidity of those who love the symbol of American freedoms more than they love actual American freedoms."
posted by joe lisboa at 2:22 PM on June 23, 2005


Frog + pot + water + slow heat = us (or should that be U.S.)

*sigh*
posted by keswick at 2:22 PM on June 23, 2005


gurple, so you agree in principle with the reasoning but you're going to piss on it here too? Interesting.

Flag burning is a non-issue. The only people who give a damn about it are trying to redirect attention away from their own scandals.

When the government has actually made some headway on an Iraq exit strategy, some headway on the massive deficit that Bush has run up since taking office, some headway on Iran and North Korea, some headway on really securing our borders, some headway on a couple of dozen other far more important issues then maybe they can have a crack at back burner crap like this.

Until then, they should be forced to actually work on issues that are more important.
posted by fenriq at 2:26 PM on June 23, 2005


The american flag stands for flag burning.

Why do these people hate free speech so much?
posted by bshort at 2:32 PM on June 23, 2005


Can the constitution still be burned?
posted by srboisvert at 2:34 PM on June 23, 2005


The best thing is that every time this comes up we get to see sweet sweet pictures of a burning American flag.
posted by hackly_fracture at 2:36 PM on June 23, 2005


gurple, so you agree in principle with the reasoning but you're going to piss on it here too? Interesting.

Er, I was typing not pissing. You might want to check closer to home if you smell urine. Anyway, maybe I wasn't clear... I agree with you that flag-burning isn't worth as much time as is spent on it. But the "you can get to that after you've cured cancer" line wears thin. Our government is built so that weirdos with crazy agendas can bring new legislation before Congress. I want the weirdos I don't agree with to get their day (and hopefully lose) so that the weirdos I agree with can get theirs, too (and hopefully win).
posted by gurple at 2:37 PM on June 23, 2005


Wanna know how your Representative voted? Wanna read the text of what was approved? Oh, and eustacescrubb, the whole Freedom Fries thing wasn't actual legislation, but a rule imposed by the chairman of the Committee on House Administration, Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. It's still silly, of course.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:44 PM on June 23, 2005


Also worth remembering that even if it passes the House and Senate, it would still have to pass in 3/4 (or 38) states.

(And believe it or not, you can thank Justice Scalia for the necessity of the amendment route -- he held that laws banning flag burning violated the First Amendment).
posted by pardonyou? at 2:49 PM on June 23, 2005


hackly_fracture: “The best thing is that every time this comes up we get to see sweet sweet pictures of a burning American flag.

Don’t you just love the way BBC posts this gorgeous pic of the US flag burning, and captions it “Flag desecration is a sensitive issue in the US”.
posted by signal at 2:50 PM on June 23, 2005


Frog + pot + water + slow heat
Claim: A frog placed in water that is brought to a boil through gradual temperature increase will make no attempt to escape.

Status: False.
Sorry, couldn't resist. Guilty, as charged.
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on June 23, 2005


Can the constitution still be burned?

Of course! Nobody really cares about it anyway...
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:01 PM on June 23, 2005


I never think of wanting to burn an American flag...until they try to pass one of these amendments. Then I start examining all the flags in the drugstore for flammability and wondering where it would be safe to burn them. Hmm, I'll need a good lighter, and a water hose, and to be away from dry grass...
posted by emjaybee at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2005


It's be hard to burn the Constitution nowadays. For the past 4 and a half years your AGs have been using it as toilet paper, so it's kinda moist now.
posted by clevershark at 3:04 PM on June 23, 2005


Does anyone even care that the prescribed method of disposing of a US flag is burning?
posted by telstar at 3:06 PM on June 23, 2005


Flag burning should, of course, be allowed, if not even encouraged. I particularly would like to see one of those Saudi Arabian flags burn, you know, the green one with all that Quran writing on it. Not that I have anything against Saudia Arabia, but it would be interesting to watch all those hypocrites down there go berzerk.
posted by sour cream at 3:07 PM on June 23, 2005


place your bets on whether the Senate follows suit.
posted by pruner at 3:08 PM on June 23, 2005


Video (WMV) I shot a couple years ago of flag burning (at an OCAP protest in Toronto)
posted by glider at 3:10 PM on June 23, 2005


I was happy to see a ABC news poll last week claim 60 percent of americans polled didn't want a flag burning ammendment. I was actually pretty surprised, but happy to hear that.

Bottom line is that this is the land of the free. You should be free to be an asshole and burn a flag if you want to.
posted by mathowie at 3:15 PM on June 23, 2005


srboisvert: Can the constitution still be burned?

InfidelZombie: Of course! Nobody really cares about it anyway...

telstar: It'd be hard to burn the Constitution nowadays. For the past 4 and a half years your AGs have been using it as toilet paper, so it's kinda moist now.

Sounds like we've got a few of them terrorists in our midst.

*dials TIPS hotline*
posted by gigawhat? at 3:21 PM on June 23, 2005


The best thing is that every time this comes up we get to see sweet sweet pictures of a burning American flag.

I agree. It's one of those nonsensical issues that distract from the actual work they can't get done, but it's still fun to watch.

Red, white and blue? Check. 13 stripes? Check. 50 stars? Check. Well, then it must be an Americ-- hey. Wait a minute. Isn't that the Hamburgler in the bottom right corner?

Now that was funny.

I was happy to see a ABC news poll last week claim 60 percent of americans polled didn't want a flag burning ammendment.

That is good news, but it might not matter. How many of them even know what the 27th amendment is or when/how it passed?
posted by mrgrimm at 3:27 PM on June 23, 2005


Someone (and I don't remember who) once said, "I'd rather they piss on the flag and wrap themselves in the constitution than piss on the constitution and wrap themselves in the flag." Makes sense to me.

I think that flag-burning should only be declared illegal if it is shown to be one of the major causes of global warming.
posted by leftcoastbob at 3:30 PM on June 23, 2005


Well, if it does pass, the FBI will have something to do besides making sure that people aren't making copies of videotapes. They've been so successful at that we hardly ever see news coverage of them enforcing it.

Maybe flags will come with warning labels just like videocassettes.
posted by warbaby at 3:39 PM on June 23, 2005


Thank you for the link, MrMoonPie.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:40 PM on June 23, 2005


I'm more concerned about this other bill, to which the Press seems to be paying little or no attention, except of course the PBS branches of news reporting, as it affects them directly. The House wants to take away millions of dollars from public broadcasting, because they've been exercising their right to free speech by telling the republican controlled white house and congress just what they've been doing wrong, while simultaneously the House wants to tell the rest of the country just how they can or can't exercise their right to free speech. Why the hell are we all sittting here like sheep instead of going out and ..I dunno, rebelling or something. Personally I'm not out there because 1) I've become so frustrated and apathetic to the idea that demonstrating would actually make a freaking difference anyway, and 2) it's hot and muggy out there.

Being so anal about flag burning only gives those who burn flags as a statement against America more ammunition. It lets them know it's bugging us. It's like that commercial about two kids on the beach and the brother is annoying the sister by invading her personal space and repeatedly saying, "i'm not touching you!" And she tries to ignore him until their parents say something. I honestly can't recall what the commercial was trying to solicit, but when we actually make a stink about people burning the flag, it lets them know we're actually bugged about it. I don't think we should be bugged about it at all. From a purely aesthetic point of view, the American flag is objectively one of the most beautiful things when it's on fire. Blood has been spilled so we can freely do what we want with the damned things, and this is how we repay those brave soldiers, by restricting the very freedoms they fought and died for? Makes me sick.

Instead, flag burning should be an annual event. Every fourth of July people should take out their tattered American flags, replace them with new ones, and burn the old ones in a ceremony at dusk, just before the fireworks. Of course, there's bastards now trying to pass federal legislation banning the use of fireworks in America too, but that's for a whole other thread.

Telstar is right. Burning the American flag has been a tradition since the first one became worn and tattered beyond a seamstress' ability to repair it, and those of us who still believe in what the American flag represents can exploit that fact to make the act of burning the flag a statement for the power of what the symbol represents, rather than a statement against it. That may not put out the fires of opposition, but it would help to make the opposition look stupid. Sure, go ahead and burn all the American flags all you want. We'll just make more of them, and sell them to you so you can burn them at your next opposition rally, and we'll turn a nice profit out of it. That is after all, The American Way.

Burning the American flag doesn't weaken the meaning behind the flag, but restricting the burning of the American flag does.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:42 PM on June 23, 2005


Burning flags makes baby Jesus cry!
posted by McBain at 3:42 PM on June 23, 2005


Does anyone even care that the prescribed method of disposing of a US flag is burning?

The amendment allows the prohibition of "physical desecration" of the flag. Presumably this (vague) term was used instead of "destroy" or "damage" precisely to preserve ceremonial flag-burnings. It's a content/message based restriction, which is why a constitutional amendment is required to enact it. Theoretically flag-burnings like ZachsMind describes could continue even if the amendment were enacted. But burn at your peril.
posted by brain_drain at 3:51 PM on June 23, 2005


Flag burning should be illegal -- if you are burning it during a "no burn" day in parts of the southwest where it gets too dry and a burning flag could lead to a major fire. You should also be arrested for burning someone else's flag.

It should be illegal to use the flag design in commercial speech or as a pattern on swimming suits.

It pains me that I would need to go to the Middle East to protest my government's actions by burning a flag. I've yet to get to the point where my grievances have gotten to the flag burning stage, but dammit, outlawing flag burning could be it. And in that case rather than risk jail time, I'll just take a shit on the flag and run that up the flagpole and see who salutes.
posted by birdherder at 3:58 PM on June 23, 2005


Justice Brennan's majority opinion in Texas v. Johnson in 1989:

"The way to preserve the flag's special role is not to punish those who feel differently about these matters. It is to persuade them that they are wrong . . . We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents."

There was a story going around -- and I must say, I don't know if it's true -- about a man some years ago, (a WWII veteran) who would bury the flags that were burned on the Mall in protest. When approached by a group that was hoping to get a him to agree that flag burning should be illegal, the man surprised them, saying he had lost good friends in the war so these protestors would be free to burn the flag.
posted by mania at 4:00 PM on June 23, 2005


Well instead of burning a flag in protest, why don't you set fire to a congressman instead?

What do you mean back in the box?

The truth can set you free, or on fire.
posted by JGreyNemo at 4:04 PM on June 23, 2005


The last time this came around, someone (TNH?) pointed out that a key problem with the language--which we're seeing again--is the word "desecration." It implies that the flag is sacred, that is, an object of religious veneration. Establishment of religion, QED. So this breaks the First Amendment in another way, by establishing Flag Worship as the Official State Religion of Murka.
posted by adamrice at 4:12 PM on June 23, 2005


ericb:
Claim: A frog placed in water that is brought to a boil through gradual temperature increase will make no attempt to escape.

Status: False.


Wait, next you're going to say there was no talking fox who called the grapes he couldn't reach "sour".

And do you mean to tell me that talking scorpions don't sting turtles who carry them across rivers? Say it ain't so!

man, hasn't anyone got an ear for fables anymore?
posted by rkent at 4:14 PM on June 23, 2005


Video (WMV) I shot a couple years ago of flag burning (at an OCAP protest in Toronto)

Small world. I'm holding the yellow and black Punchout/Walkout sign in that video, and was featured the next day in a picture on page 3 of the free daily newspaper, right above the big bold text CITY TO SUE OCAP ANIMALS FOR THUGGERY.

Lost me my job, that did.
posted by Jairus at 4:24 PM on June 23, 2005


Symbolic waste of time that won't make any difference in anybody's feelings or opinions about any US policy or the US itself.Mostly just a photo-op creator.I have diverse opinions about this country,it's laws and policies etc....burn all the flags you want....won't change a damn thing either in my mind or in general.
posted by spdavid at 4:33 PM on June 23, 2005


I've yet to get to the point where my grievances have gotten to the flag burning stage, but dammit, outlawing flag burning could be it. And in that case rather than risk jail time, I'll just take a shit on the flag and run that up the flagpole and see who salutes.

Wouldn't that be physical desecration?

man, hasn't anyone got an ear for fables anymore?

Technically, that frog boiling thing isn't a fable. I thought it was a metaphor.

/pedant
posted by mrgrimm at 4:47 PM on June 23, 2005


US flag burning photo archive.
posted by peacay at 4:54 PM on June 23, 2005


It's OK, I wasn't using that freedom anyway.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 4:56 PM on June 23, 2005


Flag Waving Patriotism (Real Audio)
posted by longbaugh at 5:35 PM on June 23, 2005


It's OK, I wasn't using that freedom anyway. LOL Mogroot

If this amendment was passed, people in IRAN would have a freedom that we wouldn't.
posted by joedharma at 5:48 PM on June 23, 2005


I recall seeing one or two stories suggesting this had a better chance of passing the Senate than usual. That could just be hype, though.
The problem I have with the idea of a flag-burning amendment -- aside from the part that flag-burning should be safe and legal -- is the bit about it being an amendment to the constitution. I mean, as a law, it's just a tragically stupid law...but the constitution is supposed to outline the structure (or "constitution", if you will) of our government. What the branches of government are, who gets to vote, who is qualified for what post, what basic rights a citizen has no matter what state he or she lives in, etc. That kind of thing. Putting in some stuff about how a certain piece of cloth is supposed to be treated...that just makes the whole document silly.

...And anyway, aren't you supposed to burn a flag when it gets dirty or tattered?
posted by uosuaq at 5:48 PM on June 23, 2005


It's high time someone took steps to punish the no-good SOBs who desecrate the US flag!


posted by clevershark at 6:05 PM on June 23, 2005


numlok, those two links made this post great. Thanks.
posted by blendor at 6:42 PM on June 23, 2005


I have an American flag butt plug. Can I burn that? If not, what else can I do with it?
posted by brundlefly at 6:49 PM on June 23, 2005


No, no, you don't understand. They're not "burning" the flag, they're lighting it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:54 PM on June 23, 2005


I will burn a flag with 14 stripes and 53 stars -- it's not an American flag.

Mwahahaha!!
posted by lathrop at 6:57 PM on June 23, 2005


How exactly will "desecration" be defined?

n : blasphemous behavior; the act of depriving something of its sacred character; "desecration of the Holy Sabbath"

to violate the sacredness of; profane

I think a flag could be burned in a very great number of ways that one would have a hard time defining as "desecration" ...
posted by kaemaril at 7:08 PM on June 23, 2005


i find it interesting that many of george's supporters are christians ... consider the flag to be something that could be desecrated ... and think that idolatry is a sin

doesn't seem consistent to me
posted by pyramid termite at 7:32 PM on June 23, 2005


fable. metaphor. potato. potato. tomato. tomato. let's call the whole thing off. pendant - (to repeat) guilty as charged! ;-)

BTW - clevershark wins!
posted by ericb at 8:03 PM on June 23, 2005


The Daily Show just said, "...and Congress will declare that all tattered flags are now to be kept alive with feeding tubes."
posted by amberglow at 8:05 PM on June 23, 2005



posted by ericb at 8:09 PM on June 23, 2005


And yet they have nothing to say about this.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:03 PM on June 23, 2005


flashback: What is the proper way to display a U.S. flag?
posted by amberglow at 9:17 PM on June 23, 2005


*shudder* @ Bush family pic
posted by ddf at 9:26 PM on June 23, 2005


I'm as transgressive as the next guy, but I do wonder how symbolic some of these acts are when exposure to them might concievably adversely affect the chemistry/structure of the brains of some war-traumatized veterans.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:34 PM on June 23, 2005


I've always found these things funny:



I guess it just doesn't strike me as "patriotic" to have a flag basically rub up against your balls and ass all day, but obviously some disagree.
posted by clevershark at 9:47 PM on June 23, 2005


...I do wonder how symbolic some of these acts are when exposure to them might concievably adversely affect the chemistry/structure of the brains of some war-traumatized veterans.
Well, veterans were the ones who started the uproar over the Dred Scott Taylor artwork i linked to, and i believe many of them have been involved in all the attempts to ban burning. I always hear "we fought for that flag!" and comments like that, but you don't fight for a flag--a piece of cloth is in itself not worth killing and dying for. And if we cared that much about traumatized vets, we wouldn't lie our way into wars which create those very vets (and we would fully fund VA hospitals, etc)
posted by amberglow at 9:50 PM on June 23, 2005


I always hear "we fought for that flag!" and comments like that

Yeah, sometimes from people who have been brain damaged by a brutal system. Do they really need to have their brains poked around with some more? Just asking.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:01 PM on June 23, 2005


Alright, I won't burn it but, goddamit, I'm going to give it a good sauteing.
posted by lometogo at 10:12 PM on June 23, 2005


Bill Hicks: "My daddy died for that flag!" Really? I bought mine.
posted by aaronetc at 10:23 PM on June 23, 2005


I've got lots of questions, but I'll start with this one:
So what happens when I write "The Flag of the United States of America" on a piece of paper and then set it on fire?

Ce n'est pas une pipe, non?
posted by Fezboy! at 10:47 PM on June 23, 2005


erm...
Ce Ceci n'est pas une pipe, non?
posted by Fezboy! at 10:55 PM on June 23, 2005


Well ... 'une pipe est une pipe' (NSFW)
posted by TimothyMason at 11:45 PM on June 23, 2005


Jeez, sometimes you Americans act like you're from another country, y'know?
posted by salmacis at 2:32 AM on June 24, 2005


Bottom line is that this is the land of the free.

Tell me you're shittin' us, matt. Land of the free? Have you been paying any attention at all to headlines these past five years?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 AM on June 24, 2005


What about Captain America?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:52 AM on June 24, 2005


Why was OCAP buring US flags? Oh right. Those crazy bastards must have used them as wicks for their firebombs.
posted by loquax at 1:51 PM on June 24, 2005



Former Californian "Full Fledged Republican" gubernatorial candidate, recent guest at the annual President's Dinner and luncheon guest of Karl Rove...Mary Carey.
posted by ericb at 1:56 PM on June 24, 2005


Yeah, sometimes from people who have been brain damaged by a brutal system. Do they really need to have their brains poked around with some more? Just asking.

But you can't not protest in a certain way just because some damaged people will snap. They could snap from anything--flag burning has been held time and time again to be a legitimate form of protest, and to be protected--which is why they keep trying--and failing--to get an amendment passed.
posted by amberglow at 2:44 PM on June 24, 2005


The Daily Show just said, "...and Congress will declare that all tattered flags are now to be kept alive with feeding tubes."

The Daily Show is about the only thing helping me keep my sanity with the daily nonsense coming out of the Republican government. With a few well placed lines and smirks they convey more information and 'reporting' than hours and hours of mainstream media reporting on almost any given topic.
posted by zgarilli at 2:56 PM on June 24, 2005


RudePundit on this

(so true, zgarilli--and look what it tells us about the "real" media. tragic.)
posted by amberglow at 11:50 AM on June 25, 2005


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