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Poll
Flag Burning
A Clear & Present danger to the Security of the United States 5%
Unpatriotic 11%
Province of liberals 29%
Favourite pursuit of foreigners and other enemies of the state 23%
Like spitting on Washington's grave 29%

Votes: 17

 Why America needs laws against flag burning.

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Aug 04, 2001
 Comments:
An argument from someone who really doesn't care.

The American flag is the fabric of your nation. The cloth of the land, that simple 3 coloured polyester rectangle, has been fought for by millions of people. They weren't fighting for liberty and free speech in WWI, WWII, Vietnam - they were fighting for the flag that many of them were buried in. And yet, some people in your country enjoy burning it. The freedom to defend the flag from desecration by its enemies has been cruely removed - a final irony for the flag of freedom (for White Americans that is - when black people in the South talked of the `Old Flag of Freedom`, they were talking about the Union Jack).

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Weak minded liberals might argue that burning the flag is a form of free speech, but this is so much nonsense. There have always been bounds on free speech. The best known example is that it is illegal to shout `fire` in a crowded theatre. It is also illegal to libel people with unproven allegations.

Those who burn the Stars & Stripes are guilty of the equivalent of both these acts. It is irresponsible to wantonly incinerate something that stands for freedom in a very real sense - and can give quite the wrong impression. This is the equivalent of shouting `fire` in a place you know fine well is safe from conflageration. Also, it is an act of heinous libel. How can one defend attacking the basis of our free speech, the flag, and accusing it of gross acts without proof? The flag stands for free speech and equality of men. It is a symbol, and as such can never be wrong. To burn it, then, is an act of libel - one is libelling universal truths, rights and principles with terrible actions. That flag can never commit these acts - it is impossible.

The flag is much more than this though. The flag is the nation incarnate. To burn the flag is to burn one's family, one's leaders, one's people. Anyone who can even contemplate such an act is surely barbarous and mad. When America was founded by Thomas Jefferson, he rightfull saw that Americans should have the freedom to defend their flag. The Supreme Court, whupping boys of the liberal elite, overuled this in 1989. Never such treachery has been commited on American soil.

Now, I am British, so I don't have a personal stake in this. If anyone suggested that flag burning laws be introduced in my Kingdom, I would rightfully damn their traitorous arses to Newcastle and back. Britain has no need of laws against flag burning. However, America most certainly does.

America has no Monarchy. With this terrible absence, there is no real symbolic head of your nation. Sure, the president may be said to fulfil this role, but he is partisan. It already seems rather primitive to British eyes that you treat him like royalty (it is always a `him`), put him on your coinage, grovel to him (yes SIR Mr President Sir!), shack him up in a palace (compared to the simple two-up two-down our PM has) and generally invest him with the mythical qualities which we British, in our wisdom, keep for someone with no power - the Monarch. Of course Americans have tried to get round this rather primitive situation by elevating the flag almost to position of Monarch.

Nary anywhere can you go in your country without the flag sticking up its ugly, starred (ugh) fabric. The schools, classrooms, police stations, town centres, hospitals, businesses - it is impossible to turn away from it, to spend a day without being forced to see it. In Britain the old Union Jack, whilst fondly regarded by a proud, fierce people, is not elevated to this obscene extent. We have no need.

America is a land of immigrants. As such, it was founded by people from all over Europe and the world who shared no common history or culture. America is not bound together by the love of fellow man, like Britain is. Britain has a strong identity, forged over thousands of years living through Empires, civil wars, three world wars, plagues and famines. It has done all this with remarkable stability and endurance - that Britain has never had a successful revolution upon its soil shows how stable a nation it is. It gets this stability from a love of the Monarch, and more importantly a love of one's fellow Britons (important in a small, cramped country). We have no need of a written constitution; the unwritten constitution arrived at through millennia of shared experience and tradition does the job far better. What is important in Britain is not symbols, but the shared body of our culture and traditions, the values that every Briton holds dear to his or her breast.

Only new nations need constitutions, nations like America. With its disparate, alienated populace, the wasp's in charge of America at its founding had to find some simple things that these grubby illiterates would understand and hold dear. Hence the rather obscene importance of the flag and constitution. Really very simple ideas, ones which the whole of America can easily grasp. The flag and constitution, a piece of cloth and a sheet of paper, are the binding that keeps America from falling apart.

To brook their being burned is to put the USA in extreme jeapordy. If these simple little icons are allowed to be treated any old way, truly nothing will be left holding your country together.

I urge you Americans to make burning the flag and disrespecting the constitution acts of treason. This may seem harsh, but really it is the only way you can keep your nation together.

You must write to your local Congressmen and Senators in support of the latest bill which is to appear before the house to amend the constitution.


Nice example of magical thinking (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by localroger on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 10:36:16 AM PST
...in its most literal sense. Outside of metaphysics, however, we recognize that a symbol is not the same as the thing it represents.

The flag and constitution, a piece of cloth and a sheet of paper, are the binding that keeps America from falling apart.

There is a major difference between the flag and the Constitution. The Constitution is not a mere symbol; it actually says something. The Constitution encodes basic principles of our government. You can read the Constitution and learn a great deal about the United States, especially the parts that make our nation different from some others.

The flag is just a symbol. A naif cannot look at the flag and learn anything about our country; it's just an arbitrary token, no different than the icons that represent applications on the desktop of a computer. The flag changes far more readily than the Constitution. Yes, for some the flag is a convenient emotional hook on which place their feelings for America -- just as it's more convenient to use the desktop shortcut than to wade through a menu to find your browser software. But the flag isn't the country, any more than the desktop icon is the program.

People do not fight and die for a flag, unless they are fools. They fight and die for their families, their leaders, their land, their sense of self-respect, their ideals; none of these is encoded by a flag. To burn the flag is no different from replacing the Windows splash screen with one that shows the Window crashing down in flames; it expresses an opinion. But in the end you're still running Windows, and if you burn the flag you're still an American, expressing your opinion (however unpopular) as the much more important Constitution allows you to do.

Flag-burning can be an expression of rage, but it can also be an expression of grief. When injustice prevails, when great insults to our Constitution are upheld by those sworn and elected to protect it, when the engines of our governance are given over to business interests at the expense of the people, the people despair of ever realizing the promises granted in that noble document. In such a case the flag-burner isn't expressing his wish so much as his perception of what has already happened.

Our nation can survive having its flag burned. It cannot survive having the principles of its Constitution sullied by those who are out for short-term gain. Of Britain, you write: We have no need of a written constitution; the unwritten constitution arrived at through millennia of shared experience and tradition does the job far better.

Better how? Is your Common Law better at protecting freedom of speech? I think not; your libel laws, used selectively to ban truthful statements about powerful interests, are an international joke. Better at making the government accountable to the people? Let's talk about the Thirty Year Rule. Better at making your land safe? Let's talk about the Thirty Year Rule again, with regard to a little place called Windscale.

Our American forefathers did not want the glue holding our society together to be something so malleable or tenuous as love of a monarch, who no matter how beloved will eventually die and be replaced with someone of unknowable character. They did not want it to be held together by something so meaningless as a flag, which can be piously wrapped around anything to shield one from its stink. Our society is a system which for all its faults and outrages stands on its own, a thing of strength and independence which exists entirely as an abstraction. This was our forefathers' great leap: to understand that a society isn't a flag or a royal personage but an idea. You may write it on a piece of paper but it really only exists in the minds of men.

And men who understand where their government really lives have no need to fear the burning of their flag, for they know that if their beliefs are true they can always make more flags, but it is much harder to reach out to the flag-burner who has insulted our symbol to ask his grievance, and to ask ourselves if perhaps we should be paying more attention to him.


Reply (5.00 / 1) (#3)
by bc on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 11:18:29 AM PST
The flag is just a symbol. A naif cannot look at the flag and learn anything about our country; it's just an arbitrary token, no different than the icons that represent applications on the desktop of a computer. The flag changes far more readily than the Constitution. Yes, for some the flag is a convenient emotional hook on which place their feelings for America -- just as it's more convenient to use the desktop shortcut than to wade through a menu to find your browser software. But the flag isn't the country, any more than the desktop icon is the program.


The flag is a symbol. However, symbols are of extreme importance in any country. Technically, the constitution dot the i's and cross the t's, but the flag is the wellspring of common emotion and patriotism. America is a country of immigrants, many of whom, when they first arrived, had no knowledge of the deeper history of America and certainly no common, shared value system. The flag and other such symbols provide a simple glue which binds the nation together.

When injustice prevails, when great insults to our Constitution are upheld by those sworn and elected to protect it, when the engines of our governance are given over to business interests at the expense of the people, the people despair of ever realizing the promises granted in that noble document.


The problem with having a constitution is that it makes the people of America lazy. In countries such as Britain, which have no constitution, the people must be eternally vigilant. America puts too much trust in a document to which an outrageous idea need only be ammended by a cartel of politicians to gain legitimacy. This is just a matter of culture though; in many ways Britain is less varied than America, and so it need not worry about outrageous ideas being made into law. The common body of culture and tradition that permeates the entire nation makes sure that this never happens. America has a constitution because it has no such guarantee.

Better how? Is your Common Law better at protecting freedom of speech? I think not; your libel laws, used selectively to ban truthful statements about powerful interests, are an international joke. Better at making the government accountable to the people? Let's talk about the Thirty Year Rule. Better at making your land safe? Let's talk about the Thirty Year Rule again, with regard to a little place called Windscale.


Well, these things aren't seen as lofty matters of principle so much in the UK. Lofty principles are all very well, but they can get in the way of effective governance. So Free Speech is all very well, but every right has responsibilities and limits. I think the British libel laws cover this fairly well. You shouldn't be able to slander someone without proof which is what the libel laws do very well to protect. This tends to mean that if a newspaper or television station says something scurilous about X powerful interest, you can be sure they have done their research.

As for the thirty year rule, well there is a good argument for saying that it is at the heart of the unwritten constitution - the principle of civil service anonymity and ministerial responsibility. These would be undermined if a minister was not in charge of releasing information to the House of Commons, in other words civil service neutrality would be lost. Of course this is not perfect - as Windscale shows there should be some rethinking on some aspects of this - but I don't think it is a paragon of evil.

Anyway, my point is that the flag of America is of extreme importance. Perhaps rationally it should not be, but in point of fact symbols of nations are of extreme importance. Look at the guilt Russia still feels now for the deaths of the Tsars. You don't lightly change rules and laws regarding the treatment of the symbols of a nation, because the effects can be impossible to calculate.


♥, bc.

Still must respectfully disagree (none / 0) (#14)
by localroger on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 04:53:35 AM PST
Technically, the constitution dot the i's and cross the t's, but the flag is the wellspring of common emotion and patriotism. America is a country of immigrants, many of whom, when they first arrived, had no knowledge of the deeper history of America and certainly no common, shared value system.

I sincerely doubt if any foreigner has ever made the journey to these shores because he was inspired by the grand symbol of the Stars & Stripes. I rather suspect that more of them were inspired by the entirely abstract notion of freedom, both economic and political, with which we are often associated.

The problem with having a constitution is that it makes the people of America lazy.

Mais oui! Such a terrible thing it is, to feel secure in one's position within society! Surely any people too lazy to have a revolution every few decades should be smacked with an asteroid. How silly of me.

America puts too much trust in a document to which an outrageous idea need only be ammended by a cartel of politicians to gain legitimacy.

It has never been all that easy to legitimately change the Constitution -- it's a lot easier to change the flag. The danger lately has been creative reinterpretation of the words. I'm sure the Founders are whirling in their graves at the notion that property can be charged with a crime, and since property doesn't have civil rights it isn't guaranteed due process (current forfeiture law, upheld in one of many recent fits of insanity by the Supreme Court). Of course, this might not seem like such a scandal to someone whose country can pass something like the Terrorism Act. Who cares about due process when bombs are going off and the sheeple are screaming for their heads, eh?

But things like the forfeiture laws have a way of coming round. Dred Scott was eventually overturned too. The sandcastles built by shortsighted pols get washed away, but the bedrock of the Constitution itself remains. You've as much as said that the UK has no such bedrock at all.

Well, these things aren't seen as lofty matters of principle so much in the UK.

Well they most certainly are seen as lofty matters of principle here, and that's one of the fundamental differences between our countries. It is, in fact, the fundamental reason our flag isn't so important. You need to remember two salient facts about the founding of America:
  • The Founders were paying close attention to France, which was having a revolution steeped in those lofty principles
  • The Founders were running as hard and fast as they could away from anything that stank of the British system, for which they blamed most of their troubles.
You shouldn't be able to slander someone without proof which is what the libel laws do very well to protect.

Actually your libel laws have been frequently used to protect crooked politicians and businessmen from legitimate investigation by journalists. The Commonwealth's lack of a First Amendment has been a frequent source of embarrassment in Britain, Canada, and Australia. At least when we get caught muzzling journalists or seizing books at the border we at least know we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Look at the guilt Russia still feels now for the deaths of the Tsars.

Yes, and do we really need this kind of crap in our heritage? Right now we have a slightly different flag flap going in the South with regard to the Confederate flag, which some people want to ban for the same kind of inane reasons others want to make burning of Old Glory illegal. "Symbols are important," you keep saying, but symbols should never be more important than things which really exist.

America is not about a flag. It is not about the stately buildings in Washington. It is not about any of the petty projects of the current crop of civil servants. It is about a process, a "lofty matter of principle" that government should ultimately be bigger than the whims of a monarch or the blind willingness to follow a symbol. It is, more than anything else, about freedom.

And if we compromise that lofty notion to save a mere symbol, then we give away what we really are, to become a symbol of something that no longer exists.


immigrants and money (none / 0) (#21)
by johnny ambiguous on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 10:39:54 AM PST
I sincerely doubt if any foreigner has ever made the journey to these shores because he was inspired by the grand symbol of the Stars & Stripes. I rather suspect that more of them were inspired by the entirely abstract notion of freedom, both economic and political, with which we are often associated.

I suspect most recent (by which I mean "during my lifetime") immigrants to the U.S.A. are neither inspired by the loveliness of our rather cluttery flag, nor by those mainly disused high abstract political ideals of which my fellow citizens are so inordinately proud; but instead the majority of thesm immigrate inspired by the hope of relatively large wages.

You see many instances where immigrants trade life under the repressive police state that runs their native country for yet worse repression, virtual slavery in fact, as an illegal immigrant worker here in the U.S.A. They walk into this with their eyes open; given the lousy choices they see before them, this one seems the least bad.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net


Getting into my Chevrolet Magic Fire, I drove slowly back to the office. - L. Rosen

 
Aesthetics (offtopic) (none / 0) (#4)
by Logical Analysis on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 12:20:03 PM PST
Nary anywhere can you go in your country without the flag sticking up its ugly, starred (ugh) fabric. The schools, classrooms, police stations, town centres, hospitals, businesses - it is impossible to turn away from it, to spend a day without being forced to see it. In Britain the old Union Jack, whilst fondly regarded by a proud, fierce people, is not elevated to this obscene extent. We have no need.

I'm glad to see that someone besides myself has noticed the outright grotesqueness of the godawful banner that is the "stars and stripes." Betsy Ross must have eaten one too many "magic mushrooms" while she designed this eyesore.

Compare it to the noble banner of the United Kingdom. Even though I am a proud USian citizen, just seeing the aesthetically pleasing Union Jack next to the wretched USA flag makes me embarrassed.

Surely, one of our intelligent and artistically inclined citizens should come up with a replacement! I recommend this.


 
Why you sir, are flat out wrong. (3.00 / 1) (#5)
by RyanWalsh on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 01:17:18 PM PST
Your arguments reek of ignorance of both American culture and law. Honostly, I find it hard to believe that this was published. But as it was, I will do my best to explain the fallacies behind your logic.


irresponsible to wantonly incinerate something that stands for freedom

Irresponsible? Yes. Disrespectful? Yes. Illegal? No.

This is the equivalent of shouting `fire` in a place you know fine well is safe from conflageration.

You make this claim without showing how they are identical. Shouting fire in a crowded hall is illegal as it puts others in danger in the mob panic. Burning the flag, in no way puts anyone in danger. Also, shouting fire in a crowded hall is allready illegal, if the two acts were in any way identical, burning the flag would allready be outlawed with the same law.


The flag stands for free speech and equality of men. It is a symbol, and as such can never be wrong.

No, the flag stands for the government and people of the United States of America. It is a symbol of that government and people. As we are all humans, and government is a human endeavor, the people and the government are prone to error. To burn the flag simply affirms disagreement with whatever errors are popular now.
It is established that we have not only the right but it is our duty as citizens to speak out against an ineffective and bastardized government. This is the reason that we had a right to revolt against His Majesty. It is the reason we had a duty to stop Hitler from silencing the minorities in his country. For the same reason, burning the flag in act of protest is actually more patriotic to the ideals of our founding fathers than it is in disrespect for any institution.


The flag is the nation incarnate.

The flag is no such thing. The flag is a piece of cloth, and it represents many things to many different people. To legislate that it means one thing to a majority of people takes away the rights of the minority. Protecting the rights of the minority is just another thing our country was founded on, and yet another reason we revolted against your form of government.


America has no Monarchy. With this terrible absence

I think that I will stop here. Your argument is through and I no longer need to speak against your stance. Goverment comes from a mandate of the people. Some lady throwing a sword around in the name of God is no way to found a government, as your Monty Python put it. To advocate regressing to monarchy is absurd, as is taking away the free speech of millions. Granted, our country isn't perfect, but with enough criticism and evolution that comes from free speech and free press, one day we might get there.


Ignorance, indeed. (none / 0) (#12)
by aoc on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 11:17:51 PM PST
Irresponsible? Yes. Disrespectful? Yes. Illegal? No.

Obviously it's not illegal now -- there would be no point in discussing why it should be made illegal if it already was.

Burning the flag, in no way puts anyone in danger. Lighting any object on fire puts people in danger? Am I allowed to burn down my house to make a statement about zoning laws? No -- I would be charged with arson, because any sizable fire can get out of control.

It is established that we have not only the right but it is our duty as citizens to speak out against an ineffective and bastardized government.

Typical American hype. Burning something is not "speaking out" -- it's simply showing off, as was stated in the editorial. Or is lighting a fag some kind of statement, too?

Protecting the rights of the minority is just another thing our country was founded

Now that's just laughable. Your country was supposedly founded on the principles of democracy, which is nothing but tyranny of the majority.

To advocate regressing to monarchy is absurd, as is taking away the free speech of millions.

The UK has a monarchy and freedom of speech. Since your post degenerated into attacks of an unbelievably ignorant manner then I must assume you are trolling, and will waste no more time on a thread that will be rightfully deleted.


Flag burning IS illegal, bub (none / 0) (#20)
by Safety Cap on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 08:50:29 AM PST
Obviously it's not illegal now -- there would be no point in discussing why it should be made illegal if it already was.
Here in the "Country of TexAs," we have a little law:

TexAs Penal Code, TITLE 9. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER AND DECENCY
42.11. Destruction of Flag

(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly damages, defaces, mutilates, or burns the flag of the United States or the State of Texas.

-:-

So, while you can burn to your heart's content most anywhere else, you will find yourself in a whole heap of trouble if you do any of that liberal stuff like burning flags, insisting upon exercising your 1st amendment rights to speak ( 42.04), and so forth.

Now, if you will excuse me, I must notify Big Brother of my location and activities.


NOT (none / 0) (#31)
by specom on Tue Aug 7th, 2001 at 08:12:10 AM PST
All such state laws were nullified by the Supreme Court Decision that declared flag burning speech. They are no more enforcable than the state laws banning miscegnation.


Arguing on the internet is like running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded.

 
Monarchy? (none / 0) (#19)
by Safety Cap on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 08:25:38 AM PST
Some lady throwing a sword around in the name of God is no way to found a government, as your Monty Python put it.


DENNIS: Listen. Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.

ARTHUR: Be quiet!

DENNIS: But you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

ARTHUR: Shut up!

DENNIS: I mean, if I went 'round saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!


 
Hippies on the Fourth of July (none / 0) (#6)
by Bugbear on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 01:33:29 PM PST
Adbuster's July 4th photos


 
Ugly flag? Ugly Queen! (4.00 / 1) (#7)
by elenchos on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 01:37:29 PM PST
It is obvious that when an individual chooses to fly the flag from the porch of their home, or carry it in a parade, or sew it to their clothes, they are engaging in political speech. They are expressing a message by that act.

Those who burn the flag are replying with opposite message, and the whole point ot the first amendment is to protect a free political dialogue. Any law which silences half of that conversation in essence puts an end to all discussion, and therefore contradicts the most essential and important purpose of the first amendment.

I think all that shared history and unity in the UK is pretty to listen to but we can see what happens when that monotonous conformity is confronted with dissent. The introducion of a few ethnic minorities in the UK, a miniscule amount of diversity compared with the US, has led to race riots we normally associate with some proto-democracy of the 18th or 19th century, not a post-industrial age world power ostensibly living in the 21st century.

Wow. I used to sort of think England was pretty cool. But now that I've written this and thought about what it means, I'm begining to think that perhaps it really is a vile and hateful thing to be English and maybe steps need to be taken to confine the UKians and especially UKian ideals to those barren and diseased islands from which they sprang. Maybe in a few hundred years they might be ready to join the civilized world, after they write a decent constitution and all, but until then, I don't think the world can afford the risk.

The other thing that really bothers me about the UK is that all of their productions are shot on video like a cheap porn movie. Not just crap like Dr. Who, but important works like the Ian McKellan King Lear. How cheap can you get? It looks like crap and anyone who appreciates art would have spent a couple bucks on film, for the love of god. But not the UK. It's like they need to take what few great contributions they have made to culture and civilization and turn them into something tawdry and shoddy.

The UK needs to keep it's hands off Shakespeare and free speech and certainly off the US constitution, lest they sully these things any more than they already have.


I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill


Racial Harmony (none / 0) (#8)
by Richard Nixon on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 05:52:48 PM PST
Yes that's one thing the USA can teach the UK. With your years of peaceful relations in places like Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago, you can leads us backward BRits to the promised land of racial peace.


Yeah. You forward thinking brits. (none / 0) (#9)
by suick on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 06:04:01 PM PST
It sure is easy to be the pillar of racial equality when this is your idea of a black man. Before you go critiquing the US for their race relations, you might want to try living with real minorities for a couple decades.

c'mon, lower.

 
For a fair comparison, (none / 0) (#11)
by elenchos on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 07:53:56 PM PST
You would have to compare the UK to those portions of the US that are similarly homogenous, meaning not LA or Detroit. Perhaps Montana or North Dakota, something like that. It isn't easy to find anywhere in the US where 97+ percent of the people are white, and under 5% speak something other than English as a first language.

In the US whites are only 83% of the population (including Hispanics) and three times as many people speak something other than English as a first language.

The UK is not a racially or culturally diverse country any more than Iowa is a diverse state. It is a pity that a nation hidebound in a rigid code of bland conformity and a backward caste system takes what laughably few differences that can be found amnog the population and turn them into reasons to attack and kill each other. The UK's best hope for peace is greater Americanization. It is an ugly thought, but like chemotherapy, sometimes a toxic cure is the only remedy for an even more deadly disease.

In fairness to the UK, I once ate a fish dinner with some vegetables and potatoes at a restauraunt outside RAF Mildenhall, and I remember it as being very good fish, and overall not a bad meal. I congradulate all the UK for that.


I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill


Erm, not true in parts of the UK (none / 0) (#13)
by Richard Nixon on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 02:59:42 AM PST
Actually many large British cities have very large proportions of their populations which are non-white. For example London has around 25% of its population which is non-white. Leicester, a city in the Midlands, has over 50% of population originating from the Indian sub continent. Yet these cities have fairly good race relations in recent years.

I myself live in a suburb of London with around 30% south asian population, a much larger proportion than in the Northern English riot cities. Yet we don't have riots. This is because there is pretty much full employment and the fact that the south asian population here is much more diverse with Sikhs and Hindus as well as muslims which predominate in Bradford and Oldham. The sikhs and hindus seem much more willing to get educated, run businesses and integrate than the muslims. They consistently beat whites in terms of educational performance. And they don't seem to ghettoise themselves to same extent as the muslims. I think that the problems in the north is less to do race than economics and culture.


 
Well I cannot vouch for porn.... (none / 0) (#22)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 12:33:05 PM PST
all of their productions are shot on video like a cheap porn movie

Never having felt the need to watch an obscene movie, I cannot comment on the second part, but if you are watching British productions on an American TV, you might be suffering a loss of quality due to the relatively low resolution of the NTSC system compared to the technically superior PAL system used throughout Europe. It probably looks fine on their TV

NTSC - Never The Same Color :-)


 
Nah, it's simpler (5.00 / 1) (#10)
by Anonymous Reader on Sat Aug 4th, 2001 at 07:22:40 PM PST
Shock value. I believe it does bother (to varying degrees) the majority of Americans when they see the symbol of our nation being burnt. The flag burners just take advantage of this so they can get your attention to tell you all about the latest "outrage" perpetrated by our government.

Does it bother me when I see it? Sure. However, I just end up ignoring whatever the flag burners have to say. And they probably don't have much to say since they resort to carnival barker tactics instead of trying to have a rational discussion.


Too true! (none / 0) (#15)
by Seithman on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 05:52:40 AM PST
This is the best comment I've heard on all this. People burn flags because it gets people's attention. It gets everyone who puts way too much emphasis on a symbol (I'm sorry, but symbols are NOT the same as the thing they symbolize) overworked, gets the media looking, and creates a regular circus -- which means attention for the original protestors' cause.

The real solution isn't to try to ban flag burning, but to make it a completely ineffective way of protest. That means ignore it. It's nice to see one other person out there who gets this.



Thanks for the kind words (none / 0) (#16)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 06:24:44 AM PST
I was watching TV on my computer (WinTV tuner card) and thinking how best to reply when an ABC special report show started. It was John Stossel talking about hype (i.e. excessive or pervasive advertising). And it hit me that flag burning is nothing more than hyping your agenda in a sensationalistic way. And just like hype, it's shameless and empty.


 
You said it. (none / 0) (#25)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 04:02:53 PM PST
It seems so pointless to burn a flag. I mean, why waste a good flag ? You may disagree with everything it stands for, but it still has plenty of uses apart from being the international symbol of everything most people in the rest of the world hate.

For example, most flag burners are lefty commie 'green' free software hippie types. If you talked to them for any length of time, they would probably tell you how important it is to help the homeless.

But do they stop for one second when they burn that flag to think what it might mean to a homeless person ? That the stars and stripes they hate so much could provide a night of luxurious warmth on a cold winters night ?

Obviously these flag-burners are spoiled brats. They indulge in the most deliberately inflammatory behaviour they can think of simply to get a reaction.

In conclusion, the best thing we could do to make the flag burning stop would be to simply ignore it.


Well put! (none / 0) (#27)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 08:17:26 PM PST
I agreed so much with your last sentence, that I didn't bother to read any of the others.


 
Haven't looked into things, have you? (none / 0) (#28)
by Seithman on Mon Aug 6th, 2001 at 06:59:44 AM PST
"For example, most flag burners are lefty commie 'green' free software hippie types. If you talked to them for any length of time, they would probably tell you how important it is to help the homeless."

Then again, many of those flag burners are also Viet Nam vets who went and fought a war that half the population was against, were psychologically tortured and submitted to vast chemical nsaties while overseas, came back to the insults and condemnation of their friends, and were pretty much ignored and marginalized by their own government. After going all through this, some of these men decided to burn a flag as a statement of "why did we bother?"

Please don't over-generalize.



 
Re: You said it. (none / 0) (#29)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Aug 6th, 2001 at 07:56:17 AM PST
But do they stop for one second when they burn that flag to think what it might mean to a homeless person ? That the stars and stripes they hate so much could provide a night of luxurious warmth on a cold winters night ?

Yes, and think how much warmer the homeless person would find the flag if it was set on fire. Flag burning could allow us to solve the problem of homelessness, whilst simultaneously making a political statement. We should encourage flag burning!


 
Rubbish! (1.00 / 1) (#17)
by Wiggy on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 06:38:09 AM PST
America is not bound together by the love of fellow man, like Britain is.

I'm sorry? What love of fellow man? Britain is bound together by strong economics, racial diversity and just wanting to get on with life. I don't think we have a stronger love of fellow men than the Americans. OK, maybe in San Francisco they do love fellow men even more than in the UK... :-)

Britain has a strong identity, forged over thousands of years living through Empires, civil wars, three world wars, plagues and famines.

OK, firstly, the strong identity you refer to is a stereotype. In actual fact, I don't think we here in the UK have a particularly strong identity of ourselves. If you go to the North, you can have traditional English farming communities, or you can have a strong Asian community with Asian values. It depends on which bit you're in. In addition, the Northerners (of which I am one) generally dislike the Southerners, and vice versa. There is no one "identity" just multiple stereotypes.

Also, just when was the third world war?

It has done all this with remarkable stability and endurance - that Britain has never had a successful revolution upon its soil shows how stable a nation it is.

I think Cromwell did pretty well while it lasted. The fact that it failed is little to do with stability. The reason it failed is that was replacing the monarchy in that case was worse. It was a military dictatorship that caused huge ruptures in economic activity and 185,000 people ended up dead. The fact it got that far shows how unstable the country was.

Also, I'd just like to ask - what exactly do you think happened in 1066? Do you not think that the consequences of the Battle of Hastings and our loss was signifcant enough to describe it as an effective revolution? The fact that it established the monarchy as we know it today, suggests to me, maybe it did.

It gets this stability from a love of the Monarch, and more importantly a love of one's fellow Britons (important in a small, cramped country).

This is stereotypical again. Not everybody loves the Monarch. Not everybody likes all the other people in Britain. I personally hate half the scallies who live in my home city of Manchester. I don't particularly like the unfriendly and snobbish attitude of Londoners. I think it's more a case of being able to tolerate each other, and finding ways to keep our distance (part of what racial seperationism is all about) is what has meant that we get along.

We have no need of a written constitution; the unwritten constitution arrived at through millennia of shared experience and tradition does the job far better.

Oh yeah. Far better. Not. We do need a written constitution, however it would be impossible to write (without re-writing over 800 years of laws), and almost completely impossible to write one that did not open itself to abuse in later years - e.g. the right to carry firearms in the USA is a typical example of a "right" that has backfired (no pun intended). The current situation is confusing. What would happen if the entire Royal family were killed in one go? What is the process *exactly* for a Monarch to overrule the Houses of Parliament? How would a Republican state operate, and how would we determine if that was what was required by popular vote?

What is important in Britain is not symbols, but the shared body of our culture and traditions, the values that every Briton holds dear to his or her breast.

The majority of Britons don't have any values or morals any more. That's the problem. We do have symbols that help us identify ourselves politically and socially, but they are different to those of a flag. They tend to be events - state opening of Parliament, PMQs, sporting events like the Grand National and FA Cup, the traditional sunday lunch, even things like the BBC take a part in the whole picture.

The simple truth of the matter is that in the UK, the Union Jack is a symbol of unity between states. England, Scotland, Wales all have their own flags. In NI it seems to depend on where you are as to which flag is considered the most important. Flags historically only have importance at times of war to show which side of the camp you're coming from. In the modern world, they have no place other than in the pride of morons who can't see the bigger picture...

Incidentally, you didn't write this after watching a certain film on BBC1 last night involving some flag burning rhetoric did you? :)




Reply (none / 0) (#18)
by bc on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 07:23:35 AM PST
I don't think we have a stronger love of fellow men than the Americans.

I dunno I disagree. Britain is a very small, urban country with everyone crammed closely together. It is far more homogenous and so its identitiy is stronger. The overriding principle of British life is tolerance, if not perhaps acceptance, and this is a good thing because acceptance needs a value judgement where tolerance does not, and then things can get tricky. Yes, there are differences between the Northern & Southern English, Scots, Welsh, etc, but it is nothing like the difference between, say, southern Mississipi & the Bronx. The differences are there, but smaller, and the entire culture has built up and evolved around these differences. There might be some variety hall style humour about the Northern and Southern English, but there are precious few lynchings and civil wars. This is why, I imagine, America needs a devolved, federal style of government where Britain does not.

Also, just when was the third world war?

Hmm, I suppose I was including the Seven Years War, in the sense that it was the first truly global war (India, Europe, N america, Indonesia, all the High Seas) but that was just me being nitpicking.

I think Cromwell did pretty well while it lasted. The fact that it failed is little to do with stability. The reason it failed is that was replacing the monarchy in that case was worse. It was a military dictatorship that caused huge ruptures in economic activity and 185,000 people ended up dead. The fact it got that far shows how unstable the country was.

I suppose his revolution was successful, but I didn't include it because Britain didn't exist at that time (not until 1707), However, Cromwell was a lesson to the British people: Revolutions rarely replace the regime with something better. This is why, where other countries have had countless numbers of revolutions, Britain has steered a path of evolution and gradual enfranchisement.Anyway, yes England was unstable at that time, and the main reason was religious. The convulsion of the reformation cast a long shadow on British life, and it can be said that this was where tolerance was born. So, for example, Cromwell made it legal for Jews to worship, trade and bank in Britain - not out of lofty principles, mind you, but because he needed the cash. But mercantilism has been a remarkable force for equality in British history, so that is really as it should be.

Also, I'd just like to ask - what exactly do you think happened in 1066? Do you not think that the consequences of the Battle of Hastings and our loss was signifcant enough to describe it as an effective revolution? The fact that it established the monarchy as we know it today, suggests to me, maybe it did.

I don't think I'd call it a revolution, as such. I mean, who exactly was revolting? But it was a successful invasion, and one that had far reaching effects on Britain and indeed the world. But certainly the Norman invasion, which paved the way for the end of feudalism and started a whole new, very organised, system of government was very important.

This is stereotypical again. Not everybody loves the Monarch. Not everybody likes all the other people in Britain. I personally hate half the scallies who live in my home city of Manchester. I don't particularly like the unfriendly and snobbish attitude of Londoners. I think it's more a case of being able to tolerate each other, and finding ways to keep our distance (part of what racial seperationism is all about) is what has meant that we get along.

Okay, maybe I was going a bit overboard with the "love" thing :-) But I do agree here that tolerance (which is a strong shared value in itself) is extremely important.

Oh yeah. Far better. Not. We do need a written constitution, however it would be impossible to write (without re-writing over 800 years of laws), and almost completely impossible to write one that did not open itself to abuse in later years - e.g. the right to carry firearms in the USA is a typical example of a "right" that has backfired (no pun intended). The current situation is confusing. What would happen if the entire Royal family were killed in one go? What is the process *exactly* for a Monarch to overrule the Houses of Parliament? How would a Republican state operate, and how would we determine if that was what was required by popular vote?

I don't understand what exactly the point of a constitution in a country like Britain is. Apart from the difficulties you point out of actually setting one up, there is the question of "Why bother?" The simple fact is that the present system works very well indeed, considering. We shouldn't muck about with something that works, more or less, for the sake of some dumb principles. You just don't fuck about with the constitution of a nation lightly - especially when said constitution has seen a nation through so much and so well.

The majority of Britons don't have any values or morals any more.

Hmm I don't know about that. If it were true then the UK would collapse tommorrow. Almost everyone but severely mentally ill vegetables has a moral system of some sort. Perhaps these moral values aren't inspired by the Church of England anymore (but were they ever - Britain has always been religiously diverse), but they still exist.

We do have symbols that help us identify ourselves politically and socially, but they are different to those of a flag. They tend to be events - state opening of Parliament, PMQs, sporting events like the Grand National and FA Cup, the traditional sunday lunch, even things like the BBC take a part in the whole picture.

Indeed. There is a whole tapestry of shared cultural experiances that everyone on these isles is familiar with. This is why the flag is less important here, but more so in America (which doesn't have all these shared cultural experiences).

Incidentally, you didn't write this after watching a certain film on BBC1 last night involving some flag burning rhetoric did you? :)

No actually :) I wrote it a week ago, just didn't get displayed till recently.


♥, bc.

The English are Revolting! (1.00 / 1) (#24)
by Wiggy on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 02:43:53 PM PST
This is why, I imagine, America needs a devolved, federal style of government where Britain does not

You're about 4 years too late then - in case you hadn't noticed, the UK is moving to a devolved state. Not only are Wales and Scotland becoming more independant (Scotland considerably so), but the way forward in NI is devolution, and I have a friend working for the "North West Assembly". I actually favour a large number of devolved states working at a local level on local issues, answerable to a central national body which itself answers to a Europe-wide body. But then, I'm a Liberal Democrat at heart. :-)

I don't think I'd call it a revolution, as such. I mean, who exactly was revolting?

The English! OK, let's go back to 1066. You've heard that your King, Harold, is dead. The new man in town is French - a Norman. His name is William. His goal is unification. As a land owner, you have a choice, effectively go with the new leader or end up dead. This has all the hallmarks of an effective revolution caused by an invasion. It's a nit-picking point, but I honestly believe the speed of change after the Norman invasion, and the long-lasting effect is indicative of a will-of-the-people which would make it almost undiscernible from what I would could "revolutionary". Again though, I nitpick on issues like this.

I don't understand what exactly the point of a constitution in a country like Britain is.

It's a double-edged sword. The true value in a constitution only becomes apparent on the condition if it had the ability to be able to be updated as times change - this is what the US constitution does not have and that's why the NRA has such a strangle-hold on the Whitehouse.

The advantage to a country like the UK deciding to produce a written formal constitution at this point, is that it allows us to clearly state to ourselves, our allies, our enemies and our children in future generations what we believe the values of our country should be. I'm thinking about writing up a story on this myself later on in the week, so I won't go into detail now, but I genuinely believe that if done correctly a constitution would hold huge value to the British.

Hmm I don't know about that. If it were true then the UK would collapse tommorrow. Almost everyone but severely mentally ill vegetables has a moral system of some sort. Perhaps these moral values aren't inspired by the Church of England anymore (but were they ever - Britain has always been religiously diverse), but they still exist.

OK, when I said they didn't exist, what I meant was that they were on the severe decline. I honestly believe that morals in British society are almost non-existant. Perhaps that's a problem with being a Mancunian. :-)


 
Not quite (none / 0) (#23)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 12:38:28 PM PST
the Northerners (of which I am one) generally dislike the Southerners, and vice versa

The Southerners are fed up with subsidising the Northerners. Its not that we don't like you...


 
Who would it stop? (none / 0) (#26)
by theR on Sun Aug 5th, 2001 at 06:39:23 PM PST
My view is, who cares? I don't particularly think that burning the flag should be illegal. If there is no federal law against it, any state that wishes can make their own law to prevent flag burning.

If there was a federal law to make it illegal, though, who would it stop? If somebody feels strongly enough to burn this symbol (and yes, it is just a symbol) of the United States and what the country stands for, then a federal or state law shouldn't stop that person. Make a law against it, fine. Maybe some of the people that are burning the flag for the wrong reasons will think it over, and the people that are doing it for some reason they actually believe in will continue.


It's all right to cry,
Crying takes the sad out of you.

-- Rosey Grier

 
Good intentions, misguided solution (none / 0) (#30)
by Anonymous Reader on Mon Aug 6th, 2001 at 09:00:30 AM PST
Before proposing a solution, you must first define the problem. Are flag-burners inherently evil? Are they criminals by nature? Do they operate by infringing on the civil rights of others? If you answer "yes" to these questions, then your solution makes sense -- and the flag-burners belong in the same category as theives and violent criminals. However, the reality of the situation is that most flag-burners burn flags for a purpose -- they want to make a political statement. This is a form of protest. When you take away this right, you take one big step away from Liberty, and one big step closer to Tyranny -- in essence you are saying that nobody has the right to protest government.

On the contrary, the root of the problem is that the US government is too restrictive. Naturally, people react by protesting. If everyone loved their country, there would be no flag-burning! In fact, the day you ban flag-burning, you'll see a lot more flag-burning than you could ever imagine -- and that's not because the country is full of flag-burning criminals. I couldn't think of a better way to invoke a revolution than to outlaw the people's right to protest government control.

They weren't fighting for liberty and free speech in WWI, WWII, Vietnam - they were fighting for the flag that many of them were buried in.

Now this statement in particular I must take issue with. Aside from the obvious mistake of confusing real-life principles with symbolic items, you have overlooked the fact that most of these people were forced to fight in these wars -- all because some self-centered politician thought that collectivism is more important than individualism, and was willing to apply the government's unique asset of deadly force against its own citizens to make it happen. Now that certainly doesn't represent the same principles that our flag represents! The US was founded on the principles of individualism. The founders of our country, in fact, openly rejected a state of forced collectivism. After all, this is why the American revolution took place!

Weak minded liberals

Also note that I composed my entire argument without resorting to personal insults such as the above. And the "liberals" (social democrats) are certainly not the only people to believe in the people's right to protest (and in fact not all of them do anyway)...

On a final note, I think it's pretty clear that what you are doing is proposing a solution to a problem. So I have one last simple question for you -- whose problem is it? I certainly don't have a problem with it, and I am just as much a US citizen as the next one...

Vote Libertarian if you are a true beliver in the principles of free will, individualism, practical law, and limited government.


 
I disagree. (none / 0) (#32)
by Anonymous Reader on Wed Aug 22nd, 2001 at 07:48:13 AM PST
I think we should be glad to live in a country where we have the right to burn the flag.


 
flags and extremist nationalism (none / 0) (#33)
by Anonymous Reader on Sun Sep 16th, 2001 at 03:28:19 AM PST
> They weren't fighting for liberty and free
> speech in WWI, WWII, Vietnam - they were
> fighting for the flag that many of them were
> buried in.

I can understand people fighting for their freedom or for an ideal, but to go to war for nothing more than an image printed on a cloth seems to me to be extreme stupidity.

Blind unquestioning extremist nationalism (for ANY country) has brought so much hatred, destruction and misery to millions of people around the world throught history.
Why continue with this insanity?

Flags are just symbols../../images printed on cloth,
its not the flag itself that is important, its the ideas that it represents.

As for the flag burners - they probably only do it because people get so upset about it.




 

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