Thursday, June 22, 2006

America Burning

Regarding the Flag Burning amendment, I present Jonathan Alter from Newsweek:

The usual litmus tests—abortion, gun control, Iraq—shouldn’t be. Reasonable and sincere people can disagree, with at least one or two principled arguments on each side. The flag burning amendment is in a category by itself: the only argument for it is based on pure emotion. But ours is supposed to be a government of reason, not emotion, especially when it comes to the most precious repository of our rights. The American Constitution, the apogee of reason in the history of self-government, is real; the American flag, for all of its beauty and deep meaning, is symbolic. For more than 200 years, we’ve occasionally used the amendment process to expand rights. This would be the first time we would enshrine their restriction. Polluting the Constitution is far more dangerous than burning the flag.

I would never burn the flag. I don't think I know anyone who would seriously do so. As much as that act may disgust me, I'm not ready to codify its restriction into law, much less the United States Constitution. We already have arson laws on the books. We already have millions upon millions of veterans and patriots who respect the flag and what it stands for and no idiot with a lighter can change that.

I find it telling that, even if this law passes and is ratified, you can still burn a cross on your own land, but women wearing American Flag bikinis could be arrested.

Ladies and gentlemen, your government, hard at work.


petallic said...

American flag bikinis should be outlawed, but only because they're tacky, not because they're somehow unconstitutional.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Sometimes tackiness must be excused.

I was watching the crowd shots at USA World Cup matches, and I live near the beach. I can tell you, with strong authority, that - on the matter of outlawing American Flag bikinis - you are wrong, wrong, wrong!

'O, say, can you see.....'

rexcurrydotnet said...

The flag desecration amendment is aimed at a new fad in schools: missing flags. Politicians are trying to stop the disappearance of flags from classrooms in the government's schools. School officials occasionally find some of the flags, desecrated or burned. In the many states that mandate a daily chanting of the pledge, students see an empty space where the flag once hung. The trend coincides with a spike in the number of students who refuse to participate in chanting the pledge each morning. Shocking new discoveries about the Pledge of Allegiance (below), coupled with the the USA's growing police state, are causing the anti authoritarian trend among students.

Any Constitutional amendment against flag desecration is anti libertarian and is bad. State laws already dictate a pledge of allegiance to the flag daily in many schools. Why is it that flag fetishists who tout flag laws don't chant the pledge every day? Their hypocrisy masks the dark desire to make children and adults worship government daily at the ring of a government bell. Please oppose the amendment, and educate everyone about these new historical discoveries:

1. Dr. Rex Curry showed that the USA's early Pledge of Allegiance (to the flag) used a straight-arm salute and it was the origin of the salute of the monstrous National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis).
Historic photographs are at
also see

2. Many people were persecuted for refusing to give the straight-arm salute to the national flag. That was the national flag of the USA and of Germany. It happened in the USA (to the stars and stripes) and in Germany (to the swastika flag) at the same time. Many of the people who were persecuted were religious people who believed that the pledge and the salute were the sacrilegious worship of government. They had a basis for their belief. Most people do not know that a cross was worshiped as the notorious symbol of the National Socialist German Workers' Party. The group called the symbol on its national flag the "Hakenkreuz," not the swastika. Hakenkreuz means "hooked cross." Although the swastika was an ancient symbol, Professor Rex Curry discovered that it was also used sometimes by German National Socialists to represent "S" letters for their "socialism." With a 45 degree turn of his Hakenkreuz, the leader of German National Socialists combined the cross with collectivism, merged church and state, meshed religion and socialism, and mandated the worship of government. Hitler altered his own signature to use the same stylized "S" letter for "socialist" and similar alphabetic symbolism still shows on Volkswagens.

3. Francis Bellamy (author of the "Pledge of Allegiance") and Edward Bellamy (author of the novel "Looking Backward") were socialists. Francis and Edward were both self-proclaimed National Socialists and they supported the "Nationalism" movement in the USA, the "Nationalist" magazine, and the "Nationalist Educational Association." They wanted all of society to ape the military and they touted "military socialism" and the "industrial army." Edward inspired the "Nationalist Party" (in the USA) and their dogma influenced socialists worldwide (including Germany) via "Nationalist Clubs."

The Pledge is part of the USA’s growing police-state. The insane government in the U.S. is twice the size of the prior administration (in social spending ALONE), financed with enormous taxes, and still bankrupt with massive debt. The government could cause comatose persons to pledge dis-allegiance, to burn or desecrate the flag, and recite a declaration of independence. The size of the government, and the history of the pledge, make the pledge a desecration of the flag.

If government's schools (and the media) told the true history of the Pledge, then no student would chant it and all flags would disappear from classrooms. If Americans knew the truth, then the Pledge would cease to exist.

Fight the flag hags and their flag fetish. Government's schools should not teach kids to verbally fellate flags each morning. It is like a brainwashed cult of the omnipotent state. For adults it is childish. The pledge is emotional masturbation.

Remove the Pledge from the flag, remove flags from schools, remove schools from government.

Dante said...

"For more than 200 years, we’ve occasionally used the amendment process to expand rights. This would be the first time we would enshrine their restriction."

Did he even read the Ammendments before making this statement? I know it's really hard to find the 43000 places online that have a copy of the Comstitution but he could've at least given it a shot.

The 16th and 18th Ammendments very much do restrict rights. The the United States could not levy income taxes on its citizens until the 16th Ammendment came about. And all I have to say about the 18th Ammendment is that it's a good thing they passed the 21st Ammendment repealing it. And if you want to split hairs, the 22nd Ammendment also restricts rights. After that one, a citizen of our country who is eligible cannot have more than two Presidental terms.

What does this have to do with burning the flag? Other than the fact that Mr. Alter brought it up in the first place, restricting rights through the US Constituion is nothing new.

Repeal the 16th and 22nd Ammendments and I'm right there with you on flag burning. Until then, I don't really care one way or another on this issue. If there's an Ammendment banning flag burning added to our Constitution, I'm certainly not going to cry myself to sleep at night over it. If fact, even if there was, I'd still rather us repeal the 16th Ammendment than repeal a flag burning Ammendment.

Laddi said...

The Nazi salute is fashioned after the old Roman-era salute, unoriginally called the "Roman Salute". You see it in the beautiful painting "The Oath of the Horatii" by Jacques-Louis David back in the pre-pledge, pre-nazi year of 1784 (French Revolution era). Strangely enough, there are no Roman-era paintings or art depicting the "Roman salute", so for our best knowledge, David could have made it up or it was used by revolutionists in France. So even if the salute was anachronistic, that would at best mean it originated with David and thereby the French during the French Revolution.

The Nazi salute was likely originated in Europe by Gabriele d'Annunzio, who was a powerful leader and orator in Italy of a town called Fiume. To me, it makes more sense that Mussolini got his political ideas, speech concepts, and gesticulations from a powerful local leader like the Duce (dictator) of Fiume than from a socialist across the Atlantic.

Bellamy, author of the pledge, was a Christian Socialist. As we know this Baptist minister did NOT include the controversial "under God" in his original pledge. Dr. John Baer cites Bellamy thoughts back to words from the French Revolution:

"Just here arose the temptation of the historic slogan of the French Revolution which meant so much to Jefferson and his friends, 'Liberty, equality, fraternity.' No, that would be too fanciful, too many thousands of years off in realization. But we as a nation do stand square on the doctrine of liberty and justice for all..." (emphasis added)

But wait, didn't David paint during the French Revolution and possibly used an anachronistic salute. But hey, maybe I'm making a large leap.

But let's read closer here and see that Bellamy said:

"[E]very pupil give the Flag the military salute -right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with forehead close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly: 'I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands; one Nation, indivisible, with Libery and Justice for all.' At the words, 'to my flag,.' the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture until the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side." (emphasis added)

So the pledge was asked to be said with the then current military salute, and then to a "straight-arm salute". Sneaky, sneaky, Mr. Bellamy.

But let's grant that d'Annunzio and Bellamy were best buddies. The US revoked the use of the straight arm salute due to the similarity to the Nazi salute. Oh, the conspiracy.

Rex Curry is the ONLY person who makes the claim that the Nazi salute originated with the US Pledge salute. I have seen written that the same "roman salute" was used by various groups worldwide before Nazism came to being, but somehow Mr. Curry is the ONLY person to make the leap tying the US to the Nazi salute.

That said and aside, if the US public (especially the Christian right) knew the pledge was created by a socialist with nationalistic intentions, they wouldn't care one iota. There are many other reasons to resist the pledge than because of its origins. And for the Christian rights and pro-pledge folks, the origins do not symbolize what it means TODAY. Similar to the Rebel Flag heralders in the South.

I could write more, but I have real work to do.

Dante said...

Please don't feed the trolls.

S.A.W.B. said...

Congratulations, rexcurrydotnet, you've reached the Bannination level.

/trolls beware, I will suffer none of your shenanigans, especially if they're poorly worded and written in the third-person.

/iron fist.

/but i will leave his little rant up for now, as it is hi-larious reading.

Laddi said...

Generally, I do not, but this misinformation had to be clearly and unequivocably put to rest, like a poor school teacher at patrick's high school.

patsbrother said...

Full disclosure: I have not taken a constitutional law class; thus, I necessarily speak without educational corroboration.

dante, your definition of rights is most peculiar. You read the base articles of the Constitution as "rights" when they appear on their face to be the administerial set-up for the new government. If you read all the original articles to the Constitution as "rights" in the negative, the Constitution starts to sound pretty ridiculous.

Further, the existence of a separate section, as a concession for adopting the rest of the Constitution, called the Bill of Rights strongly implies that what came before it (being the main body of the Constitution itself) were not rights. Thus, I call shenanigans on your claim that the XVI and XXII amendments were restrictions on rights.

Also, if we were to take your attenuated and unadvised approach to what a "right" is under the Constitution, I must admit I am confused as to why you didn't include all the other amendments as well.

Some Examples:
I: restricts the people's right, through the government, to regulate speech and religion

IV: restricts citizen's right to have wrong-doers prosecuted without probable cause

XIII: largely restricts a citizen's rights to own slaves

XXVI: restricts the voting rights of those 21 and over by extending the ability to vote to those as young as 18, thereby diluting the effect of a full adult's vote

XXVII: restricts the rights of citizens who happen to be members of Congress from increasing their compensation until the after the election of the next Congress

Thus, if you want to by wonky, you can argue the whole Constitution is one big dimunition of somebody's rights. However, that is not what was meant. I distinguish between the modificaiton of rights and the modification of the administration of government itself. I see no right not to be taxed, I see no right to be elected president or to elect a president more than twice. Under this, the more normative definition of rights, the Amendments do expand rather than constrict rights.

That the one amendment to be repealed - prohibition - was the one that most closely resembles a restriction of one's personal liberty: that is persuasive support of the idea that we shouldn't mar the Constitution with what strikes us as limitations on our liberty in the most common sense.

patsbrother said...

Next, good reason not to amend the Constitution unless it really, really needs it lies close to home: the consitution of the State of Georgia.

Since the current on was adopted in 1983 (we have had ten), we have averaged 6.4 consitutional amendments every two years. And, most disturbingly, I can't find a list of them on the Internet, which suggests there are so many so often there is no reason to mention them. I vaguely remember a history professor telling our class that one of the previous versions of the constitution was saddled with something like 200 amendments before we finally gave up on it. Unfortunately, I can't even find stats on the previous constitutions to corroborate this, as none of the blubs about them even mention amendments at all and contain no links.

Amusingly, one of the amendments made in 2004, the gay marriage/civil union ban, blatantly violated a previous amendment to the constitution regarding how amendments are put to the electorate. Supporters of the amendment were alerted to this particular snafu well before the 2004 election(through litigation): they either did not care or did not believe that such an amendment existed. More entertainingly, supporters of the amendment praised the judge who denied a pre-emptive challenge to the amendment before the electorate (as the judge lacked the power to rule on government action prior to that government action) for her sound legal judgment; then, recently, when the same challenge to the new amendment came back up, the judge held that it was unconstitutional, for violating that previous amendment, and the same people (literally) labled the SAME judge a judicial activist with no respect for the law!

Do you want the Constitution to be so overburdened and cumbersome as that? This Congress has already proposed two amendments in what: two weeks? The Constitution is not a platform for grandstanding.

Dante said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dante said...

"I see no right not to be taxed,"

Neither do I. I never said that. I said that Americans once had a right not to be taxed based on income.

Federal income tax was declared Unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1895. Based on that decision, we had a right not to be taxed based on income just like we now have a right to privacy based off the Roe v Wade decision. Neither was explicitly pointed out in the Constitution but both were rights. Now in 1913 there was an Ammendment passed to allow for income tax. We lost the right not to be taxed based on income when that Ammendment was passed just like we would in effect lose our right to privacy if an abortion ban Ammendment were passed.

I'll conceed the Presidental term limit issue and I even think you make good points comparing the US Constitution to the GA Constitution but you're dead wrong here.

Dante said...

"lose our right to privacy"

Upon rereading, "lose" is a bad word to use there. Our right to privacy would be infringed on but not lost in that example.

petallic said...

Completely anecdotal, but whatever:

I once had a student steal my flag and stuff it down his pants, but he only did so to further a practical joke between us that he was "sneaky sneaky" and could steal anything without my noticing. He once had every office supply item off my desk and hidden in the many pockets of his attire. 'Twas quite funny. He now pours concrete for a living.

Anywho, I can pretty well tell you that any kid caught desecrating a flag at my school would have his ass excavated before he could run screaming to the hills. Even the goth kids are fairly patriotic these days, but in a very non-jingoistic, much more rational variety than their good ole boy classmates. If this behavior is indeed occurring, I'm so glad it's not in my school.

And as to saying the pledge, it's all about respect. I can't force the kids to say it, and I don't want to. I stand and say it; if they choose to do it with me, great. I do, however, ask them to be quiet. A few will try to talk through it, but generally they feel like asses when they see me stand and pledge, ignoring them. During my planning period this past semester, another teacher's class met in my room. He never said the pledge, so they didn't either. In fact, he'd talk through it and carry on with his useless blather. But on the rare occasion that I'd be in the room, when I would stand and say it, ignoring them all, his kids would do it too. Kids will fall in line if they respect the leader.

patsbrother said...

dante: Art. I, Sec. 9 reads in part: "No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken."

The Amendment XVI reads: "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration."

In 1895, an income tax was unconstitutional, but not because of a right not to be taxed based on income, but because the Constitution expressly limited the ability of Congress to collect such a tax. If you give me the name of the case to which you refer, I will gladly look it up to see if the Supreme Court decided to go farther than was necessary in declaring such a tax unconstitutional; however, I strongly doubt it did such a thing.

Barring the bizarre chance it did declare a right not to be taxed based on income, I will make this comment: simply because SCOTUS declares something unconstitutional does not mean you have a right to its opposite. There are many reasons why something may be unconstitutional. I direct your attention to one of my earlier posts, regarding the Georiga judge who declared the gay marriage/civil union ban unconstitutional. That decision, if affirmed by the Supreme Court of Georgia, does not mean Georgians have a constitutional right to marry or enter unions with someone who is of the same gender; it means the State went about amending the constitution improperly.

And finally, a clarification: SCOTUS did not declare a right to privacy in Roe v. Wade. In that decision, SCOTUS applied a right to privacy that had developed in earlier decisions, such as Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)(a right to privacy within the marital relationship).

Dante said...

I'm pretty sure you are referring to the case I looked up in regards to my argument. I am very well aware that the income tax restriction applied solely to Congress. I thouhgt it not worth mentioning since we were talking about federal powers here. The states very much could levy income tax at that time (and some did if I'm not mistaken). Let me be perfectly clear since you've shifted the focus slightly: It was Unconstitutional for Congress to levy an income tax on the general public. To me, that equates to a right. We had the right to avoid income based taxation from Congress.

"simply because SCOTUS declares something unconstitutional does not mean you have a right to its opposite."

You're making a logical error in your example. The opposite of a "gay marriage/civil union ban" is "not a gay marriage/civil union ban." We have the right to not have gay/civil unions banned. That doesn't mean we can have them. It just means that if they did exist, they couldn't be banned. That's a right we have as citizens. Thought I will admit it seems to me like a rather minor one. I will give you the chance to provide a better example though since it is logically possible for something to be Unconstitutional yet the opposite not be a right. In the case I mention though the inability to levy a type of tax is equivalent to having the right to not having that tax levied (at the federal level in this instance of course).

Thanks for the right to privacy clarification.

patsbrother said...

Well, dante, before I thought you were misinformed; not it seems you're batty.

Complain about Amendment XVI all you want; but don't talk about it as though it restricted the people's rights.

In no way have I shifted the focus of this discussion. At all times I have assumed both you and I are talking about the federal level of government. I have no idea why you think I was arguing anything different.

And yes, I specifically asked for the name of the 1895 case, to which you referred, that declared a federal income tax unconstitution. I can't be more specific than that as you have yet to mention the name of that case, and I have no intention of going through 1895 case law willy-nilly in search for it in order to corroborate your claim.

As for the example I provided: we Georgians do not now have a right not to have gay marriages/civil unions banned; we have the responsibility, if we wish to amend the Georgia constitution, to do it within the processes enumerated in the constitution itself. You can then make the inane argument that we have a right not to have our state constitution amended unless it is done according to the dictates of the constitution, but that is both inaccurate and absurd. You don't have a right to specific procedures: its just how we've gotten together and decided how to do things. Yes, the opposite of the amendment found unconstitutional would be a ban on banning; yet still, there are no "rights" involved, unless you want to describe every possible facet of government as either the ceiling or the floor of some "right".

Or do you want to argue we all have the "right" to have the terms of the President and Vice President end at noon on the 20th of January, pursuant to Amendment XX? Are our or the new President's "rights" infringed if that event occurs, instead, at 12:15? You can call such things "rights", but that niggardly silliness is simply not what we (being sane people) refer to when we discuss our rights under the Constitution.

patsbrother said...

And just to be perfectly clear, even the last mentioned variant on the example being used - the right not to have gay marriage/civil unions banned - is not a right we have. I used it in my last post to satisfy dante's need for an example of something held to be unconstitution, the EXACT opposite of which is not a "right". The ban referred to would have been constitutional had the questions of gay marriage and civil unions been put to the electorate as separate questions, as Georgia apparently has a single-issue rule when it comes to referrendums on constitutional amendments.

Which, I suppose, dante would refer to as our right not to have multiple issues presented to us in as voters in referrendums on proposed constitutional amendments.

If you want to talk about your rights in such fashion, I will concede, that under that strained definition of rights, Amendment XVI restricted people's rights, as did, apparently, every other amendment to have changed the constitution (which, one must admit, is all of them).