A Burning Issue

By Bob Wilson

Edward Hasbrouck's concern over the right to burn the American flag out of protest is shared by more than a few "non-liberals." For some reason, which I just don't get, (likely pandering) the Republican congress has made it a mission to tackle the weighty issue of "flag burning." It being resolved (by the Supreme Court) years ago that an individual's right, under the Constitution, to express protest or grievance by burning, defiling, or otherwise "dis-ing" the flag is protected free speech, it seems that there are those who are intent on making that form of free speech a crime. Since one of my main criticisms of liberals is their overwhelming propensity to use symbolism and sentiment in place of reasoned and empirical argument, I find it embarrassing personally, that Republicans (conservatives) have found it convenient to indulge in precisely the same tactic. I am not the least harmed if some jerk wants to show his dissatisfaction with our country by burning a flag, assuming that the flag belongs to him, and that he/she violates no fire code in the process. The flag is a symbol... In our country, every individual should have the right to decide exactly what this symbol stands for. In my opinion, it stands for my personal freedom to think, speak, and behave as a free person. Such freedom is oppressed by ever encroaching government regulation. That is the hallmark of modern liberal politics. I personally respect what it stands for, but my vision of exactly what that is, is not shared by everyone. I respect the fact that a lot of Americans died nobly in defense of what the flag stands for. (I know that many also died wrongfully under the same banner. There have been countless evils inflicted on people under the blind allegiance to flags of all nations, and ours is not totally without guilt.) Therefore, I also respect that not every one is happy with every aspect of the country our flag represents. Some believe that our country is not a good place. They are convinced that it's political and social institutions have and continue to do great harm. I want to hear what those people have to say! I want them to have their turn on the "soap box." If I cannot logically and confidently counter their arguments, then I should agree with, or at least, acknowledge them. The last thing the flag stands for, is the repression of another citizens turn to speak! That, as far as I am concerned is a tactic which I see used more frequently by screaming liberals than conservatives. The attempt to make protest that includes burning my symbol of freedom illegal is the antithesis of the what the flag symbolizes in the first place. While my personal reasons for believing that flag burning protest should remain protected free speech may not be the same as my liberal friendís, the issue is one of substantial agreement.