posted on Jan, 25 2007 @ 01:01 AM
Although I personally can not conceive of virtually any situation under which I would see fit to destroy the flag, I'm not prepared to come down very
hard on it either.
I believe that it, like many things that we are free to do, is in poor taste, is of little or no material benefit, and in some cases plainly displays
an unenlightened view of our country.
Nevertheless, I do not believe that it is in the best interests of our democracy to forbid it. A certain amount of hostility towards the government is
healthy. People should retain a sense that they have rights over the government and not the other way around.
Beyond that, the flag, ultimately, is a symbol. We use it essentially as a ritual practice to reaffirm and reinforce in ourselves a recognition of
what we have and a thankfulness for how it came into being and how it survived.
The burning of the flag is equally symbollic. Destroying the flag does not unmake the union any more than it's display creates it. The flag in
whatever state of use is a symptom, not a cause. The burning of the flag indicates a belief that the things represented by the flag are being
destroyed, or have ceased to be represented by the flag, and to the extent that this side of the flag's symbolism is a practice of jealous
guardianship over the things the flag represents against corrupting forces, I would have to consider it a symptom of an American spirit equal to the
challenges before our society.
I realize that such idealistic circumstances are not always present in the burning of a flag. Sometimes it is just a childish display of an
unwillingness to make concensus. Sometimes it's a persons way of saying "I only like Democracy when I win, and when I lose I despise everything that
past generations have given me". That obviously is not in line with American Democracy.
But who is to judge what a person's true moral convictions are for the purposes of law? If the choice before us is that we must either suffer fools
or be restricted in what can perhaps at times be a philosophical exercise, my vote must be that we suffer the sight of the fools among us, and equally
sustain the right of others to call those fools as they see them. Sunshine is, afterall, the best disinfectant, and the fools will not disappear
simply because they can't practice a certain act. At least at present we can spot them coming by the smoke, so that we can prepare either take our
leave of them or attempt to enlighten them.