A Burning Question

I’ve never burned an American flag (or even entertained the thought) before, but if a majority of our senators get their way, I may go Thoreau on their asses and burn one in an act of defiance. From WaPo:

A constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration is headed toward its best chance of passage in 15 years with a cliffhanger vote later this week in the Senate.

As debate opened Monday, supporters and opponents alike said the amendment is within two votes of being sent to the states for ratification. Supporters called the debate a week before Independence Day a chance for the Congress to salute veterans.

“I think of the flag as a symbol of what the veterans fought for, what they sustained wounds for, what they sustained loss of limbs for, and what they sustained loss of life for,” said Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa.

Certainly Specter is smart enough to know that most veterans also value the protection of our constitutional rights, especially the right to be able to protest the actions of our government. If this proposed amendment gets a two-thirds vote in the Senate, it goes to the states for ratification. If ratified, it will bite yet another chunk out of the First Amendment.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: The Senate came just one vote short, leaving the right to burn the flag safely in the realm of allowable public dissent. (via Sploid)

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. Bill Hicks always said it best on this one:

    “‘Hey buddy, my daddy died for that flag.’

    ‘Really? I bought mine. Yeah, they sell them at K-Mart and shit.’

    ‘He died in the Korean War.’

    ‘Wow, what a coincidence. Mine was made in Korea.’

    No one ”“ and I repeat, no one ”“ has ever died for a flag. See, a flag … is just a piece of cloth. They may have died for freedom, which is also the freedom to burn the fuckin’ flag, see. That’s freedom.”

  2. I don’t think there is anything wrong with burning the flag at all. My reasoning, however flawed, is that the flag that waves over our heads today reflects nothing of the ideals of the founders. I’ll go back to start flying different flags of the revolutionary days before I’ll hoist a 50 starred disgrace over my person or property.

  3. Hey, Steven, It’s Gabe, from LLS, um, I wrote a letter to teh editor recently, and apparently it got published, and I am just blown away by the positive response I have been getting from teh community, I have already referred about a dozen people to the lp website, and to hot, I think that there should maybe be a “letter to the Editor” lesson added to teh campaign management class, i figure that for everyone who actually wrote me an e-mail, probably a thousand liked my leter and have had their vote influenced.

    I dunno, maybe this isnt the right forum for this suggestion, sorry if so.

  4. If we fight some more about the pledge, it will take care of this amendment no problemo. Don’t sweat it.

    Just make sure you throw all the LRC bums out of Portland who don’t get that the LP is’nt about politics. It’s a moral beacon to the world that there is one and only one principle for which everything else on earth can be derived from.

    This has worked so well for us since 1983. Look at all the liberty preserved since then.

  5. I burned a flag once. I poured gas on it and lit it off. The only reason I was not in trouble is because it was being worn by a hippie.

  6. And let us not forget about the flag definition. What qualifies as a flag? What if it only has 12 stripes?

    I think the main point though is that regardless if people are for burning flags or not, the constitution is not there to tell people what they can or cannot do; rather it is there to tell the government what IT can or cannot do.

    People seem to forget that.

  7. I’m with Stephen – I’d never burn a flag (except in respectful ceremonies) but if it was made illegal, I’d be right out there torching them.

  8. “And lo, the burning Bush was not consumed.”

    He likes that holy roller stuff.

    Let’s apply for a Faith-Based grant.

  9. Burning effigies is a great idea. It’s time to bring it back. Also consider burning an effigy of Uncle Sam.

  10. I reckon ‘Ole Glory’ could actually do with a makeover! Say, transpose the 50 stars into skulls, the bars with ACTUAL image of the bars at Abu Graib and voila! Each of the skulls could thus represent a million people killed, wounded, tortured and incarcerated by the USA…hmmm, better add SOME MORE STARS, eh what, Julian, old chum?

  11. I think the point should be made that following Bush’s lead we don’t care what Congress has to say, afterall he has issued 750 signing statements. Hell in third world countries they dismiss the congress here we just ignore it.

  12. I served and so did the majority of the male members of my family. One phrase that one of them used when I was young, and I have used subsequently, is this: “even though I find the act of burning the flag to be despicable, I’ll fight for your right to do it.” Looks like it might soon be time to put up or shut up…

  13. I wonder what would happen if people showed up to their Senator’s local headquarters (Sen. Thunes is just down the road from me in Sioux Falls, SD) and burned flags outside their offices?

    Of course our representatives would not be their, but a simple call to the media would make it interesting.

  14. GreginOz

    I have no problem with burining the flag as long as there are scumbags wrapped up in it as it burns.

  15. The amendment would not immediately make it illegal, it would just give states power to make it illegal. So after the amendment passed I would burn as many flags as possible before my state made it illegal. Then I’d have special 49 star flags made up. Since such a flag never existed, it isn’t a real US flag and I would burn it happily. Once they outlaw close facsimiles, maybe I’d reverse the colors, sort of a bizzaro flag, and burn that.

    I’ve never burned a flag before or planned on burning one, but if a country takes away my right to burn it, then the flag deserves to be burned in my opinion.

  16. I would suggest that anti flag burning advocates attempt the following exercise:

    Close your eyes. now, instead of an American Flag, pretend taht you are buring the flag of a country that spies on it’s people, that imprisons non-violent offenders and political activists, that has more journalists in its jails than any country but china, and that executes more of its citizens annually than any country than china. Pretend that you are witnessing the burining of a flag of a country that has been initiated more land wars internationally than any nation in the last 200 years. Now, does it really seem so bad to burn that country’s flag?

    Now, open your eyes, asshole, I just described America.

  17. I’ve never thought of burning a flag either, but already bought one for that purpose if this crap passes!

  18. Considering that the only proper way to dispose of a REAL American flag is to burn it, just call the Boy Scouts of America and ask about Retired Flag Disposal, I wonder just how this stupid bill could be enforced. And how about all those dip wads that trivialize the flag by turning it into a cheap ornament? Hanging it off of their radio antenna until its torn and soiled? Or letting it come faded and soiled on the Fourth of July tee-shirt. I was raised to believe that our flag would be destroyed before it would be allowed to be desecrated. I can’t believe that “American Patriots” are so doubtful of our country’s inner strength. What would you give your to defend, the flag or the constitution?

  19. IF that ammendment passes I will go directly to WalMart and buy a genuine [Made-in-China] American flag, and burn it on the steps of the [San Jose] Federal building. Word.

  20. That the Senate would come anywhere close to passing this amendment is one of those signs that the country the flag stood for doesn’t exist anymore anyway.

    If they do pass it, I’ll burn one as well. Better to do that than to let those assholes wrap themselves in it (or, better yet, better to do it WHILE they’ve got themselves wrapped in it).

  21. to all that are going to burn flags as protest for this amendment. extra points if you “accidentally” let the flag touch the ground and burn it in a manner prescribed by law

  22. Wow, I am glad none of you are in the government of my country. You can’t spell, you have inadequate facts and you are Anti-American to the point it is coming out of your noses. Move out of the country if you detest the flag, the President and the land you live upon. It’s really quite easy…buy a plane ticket and GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY!

  23. I agree with the other posters who wonder about burning a flag that is not exactly like the flag, but looks awfully close. I saw a NY Times article yesterday about the Argentine flag being defined in Argentine law as being “sky blue” (which is very ambiguous). Could someone find the legal definition of the U.S. flag? I’d like to see how detailed the law is. As far as a flag with 49 stars, we did have that as the official flag in late 1958 and early 1959, after Alaska had been admitted but before Hawaii.

  24. you mis the point, SD. It’s not that they hate the flag, it’s that they hate the fact that they’re destroying the first amendment. That amendment, above all others, is the reason we are a great country, and to have some asshole eliminate it to snuff out protest makes me and others here ill.

    I am a veteran (but I don’t use that fact as a shield), I gave my blood in the first Gulf War. I hate to see our flag burned. The burning of the flag is an extreme statement of dislike for the current policies of the government. AND GODDAMMIT I WILL DEFEND TO THE DEATH THEIR RIGHT TO MAKE THAT STATEMENT!

    I will bet all of the above posters have never burned a flag before in their lives. But take away our first amendment and we will react.

  25. Sorry SD, it is you who should be buying that plane ticket and leaving the country, because you do not understand America. (And you certainly do not own it.) Sorry also to say that it is you who are the Anti-American. Try to understand why before getting emotional again.

  26. The best way to point out the absurdity of this proposed Amendment would be to burn a flag of 51 stars & 13 stripes on the Capitol steps. If such a flag were not stretched out before being set alight, it would be impossible to determine if it was, legally, an American flag or an 51 star impostor. Then, because the evidence would destoryed by fire, the police would not be able to prove if the law was broken.

  27. Why the talk about burning close-facsimiles to the flag? They’re not trying to pass an ammendment prohibiting that… Sounds to me like that’s a ploy to protest while avoiding any possible consequences. As for me, if this ammendment get’s passed I want a 100% US official issue, blessed-by-GW-himself flag to burn. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  28. The first ammendment right is a right we all enjoy. But where does the bullshit end? And to the veteran, while I am grateful to you for your service to our country, how can you or anyone else think that it is an appropriate show of dislike for a government policy? We all know why it is that people burn flags, simply to act like an asshole with no promising way to express their opinions. There are far more productive ways to show your opinion.

    And Curry–what is it you think I misunderstand? Buy your plane ticket and fly to Iraq and show that you understand anything at all about being free or being AMERICAN.

  29. SD,

    Bush has removed more freedom from America than any president since WW2. Only a mental pygmy would equate support of the government with being more American than someone else.

    Those like you only believe the 1st Amendment applies to those who agree with you. For others it’s optional, and it’s just fine for George Bush or Congress to take it away.

    strange how Republicans and Democrats only want the parts of the Bill of Rights they agree with to be enforced.

    makes them no better than Saddam, and makes you no better than him as well.

  30. SD,

    I love my land. I wish the government would stay off of it and busybodies would keep their noses out of it.

    Flag burning is not a problem. Few flags have been burned in protest since the 1980’s. “Of the 122 incidents of flag desecration identified by the Citizens Flag Alliance (CFA) on their website, at least two-thirds (76) involved crimes that are already covered by local criminal statutes””including theft, vandalism, destruction of property, trespassing, disorderly conduct or public disturbance. ”

    I believe that an anti-flag burning amendment passing the senate will cause flag burnings to go up. Passing the house will lead to more burnings. Passing the states will lead to more, possibly 10X or 100X greater in a two year period than the previous 2 decades.

    They are creating the problem they claim to wish to eliminate. Who is unpatriotic here? Who really cares about the flag.

  31. I don’t need an amendment to not burn an American flag, but an amendment to not will certainly cause me to.

  32. SD,

    At some point, we will only be allowed to show our dissent in one of those fancy free speech zones – the ones that look like cages with barbed wire.

    Part of the problem here is that this whole debate ignores the issue of private property and property ownership. An amendment would effectively revoke ownership over all the american flags in existence. You would merely hold a license to the physical good. You would be dictated how to display it, when, where, when not to, and when and how to dispose of it. Seems pretty unAmerican to me.

    When that happens, the value of the symbol is nil. Things we do not own also have little value, and are not respected in the same way.

  33. HippyChimp,

    Burning close-facsimiles to the U.S. flag (and more to the point, escaping punishment on the technicality that you’re not really burning the U.S. flag itself) would be a great way to make a mockery of the ban. At the very least it would also provide a great test case to establish how far the ban actually goes.

    The same goes for creating an animated graphic of a burning flag and posting it on one’s Web site or blog. (Remember, the amendment specifically covers *physical* desecration, not virtual desecration.)

  34. Guys,

    You can waste your time, money and reputation protesting and then defending your actions, or you can pool that same time and money to lobby your state legislature to refuse to ratify. Start now by asking each rep and senator in your state to oppose the proposed amendment and raise money toward the defeat of those who refuse.

    And start right now targeting every US rep and senator from your state who voted/votes for the amendment.


  35. I suppose so, Joshua. I mean, I get your point at least. I don’t think, however, that my goal would be to make a mockery of the ban or test to see how far it went. I’d want to exercise my freedom of speech by clearly violating the ban and dare them to prosecute me for doing so.

  36. from the article you linkked to, Jeff…

    “According to Effingham County State’s Attorney Ed Deters, cases interpreting flag burning statutes conclude if the conduct of burning a flag is done in an attempt to express an opinion or a political point of view, then the act is protected constitutionally.

    However, Deters said he does not believe the defendant was burning the flag to express an opinion or a political view.

    Deters would not comment further on the evidence that led to that conclusion.”


  37. Fools! We need this to protect our flag! We also need an anti-rust amendment to keep our cars safe! Why don’t we draft an amendment that prevents us from letting fruit rot in our kitchens! We need to make amendments to control all aspects of life, even if they contradict other ammendments! There is no other choice.

  38. The bill isn’t about burning, by the way, it is about desecration. So obviously burning a flag to dispose of it properly is not desecration. Burning it in protest would be desecration under most of the laws that would surely be passed after the amendment. Also the amendment doesn’t implicitly makes it illegal. It makes the act of legislating against it constitutional.

    Just trying to clarify. All that doesn’t make the proposed amendment any less horrible, I just want it to be known exactly what we’re up against.

    As for that guy, Jeff, I imagine burning a flag under his circumstances probably qualifies as endangerment or reckless behavior. You can’t just light things on fire on public grass, that’s crazy. Although that isn’t what they arrested him for. What they arrested him for is staunchly unconstitutional.

  39. There are a lot of things worse than burning the American flag, such as desperate politicians gleefully wrapping themselves in it, or flying it over the Halliburton headquarters in Houston — both of which are truly acts of desecration!

  40. This type of “feel-good” legislation can only destroy a country. It only keeps the same power-hungry politicians in power, and perpetuates their poorly crafed legislation.

    Another example of this “feel-good” legislation is the the gay marriage bans. Also a restriction of a right written (or proposed to be written) in the constitution; a constitution is suppose to limit governmental powers, not the people’s rights.

  41. This type of “feel-good” legislation can only destroy a country. It only keeps the same power-hungry politicians in power, and perpetuates their poorly crafted legislation.

    Another example of this “feel-good” legislation is the the gay marriage bans. Also a restriction of a right written (or proposed to be written) in the constitution; a constitution is suppose to limit governmental powers, not the people’s rights.

  42. Gay liberal hollywood immigrant drug addicted greedy oil executive media darwinist elites want to use up all our gasoline to burn flags as part of their biased news coverage of people crossing the border to take our jobs teaching evolution to children participating in alternative marriage ceremonies under the influence of marijuana! The breadbasket of America is outraged! So let’s tax/ban their deviant behavior while waving the American flag, singing the national anthem, and restricting alternative party ballot access, just as Jesus would have.

  43. Paul, I’d laugh if that wasn’t so accurate.

    Like most of the people here, the thought of burning my flag at this point is repugnant to me, but I’ll burn it to ashes if that amendment passes.

  44. My letter to my Senator:

    “Senator Allen,

    I voted for you in your 2000 campaign due to your Jeffersonian principals. I find your stance on the Flag Burning amendment to be a cheap political ploy that violates those principles.

    Burning an American flag is generally a disgusting, cowardly act. But it takes real courage to stand-up and defend the right of free men and women to express their opinion without limitation.

    If the Senate votes to pass the amendment to the states, then I will burn my flag in protest. My burning flag will not be a symbol of my hatred and disgust for America, but a symbol of my love for my country and her founding principles. If the states ratify such an amendment, I will burn one small flag per week.

    As you should know, my rights are not granted to me by the Constitution. The Constitution was written to protect me from the government violating my God-given rights. This proposed amendment violates the spirit of the Constitution.”

  45. I don’t believe patriotism can be legislated, codified or the Constitution amended to force it on its citizens. By passing a Constitutional Amendment banning flag burning, we are not honoring the greatness and intent of our founding fathers or those that died for freedom.

    One chooses to be a patriot and be proud to be an American. He is not a patriot by force. I am opposed to the method being used to tell us how we should behave or think. It is a degradation of the First Amendment.

    I will not personally burn a flag in protest because it is symbolic of what the true intent of our democracy should be. I will choose another avenue to express my displeasure with politicians, seditionists, traitors and those citizens that display venom toward our democracy.

    If you choose to burn the flag in protest, I won’t like the action or you for doing it. I may even kick your ass and hope I get away with assault. Your ass should not be kicked by the government, only by people like me.

  46. This may just be my craziest idea yet… but how about liquid nitrogen? They outlaw burning a flag? Freeze ’em! Dip ’em in the stuff then shatter in a completely harmless manner.

  47. Chris, thanks for posting your letter. I hope you don’t mind, but I used it as a template for my own letters to my state’s senators.

    I recommend you other so-called activists do the same.

    Put up, or shut up.

  48. SD said, “And to the veteran, while I am grateful to you for your service to our country, how can you or anyone else think that it is an appropriate show of dislike for a government policy? ”

    I don’t think it is appropriate.

    But I also am aware that my own concept of “appropriate” cannot, and should not, be forced down anyone’s throat. That’s what free speech is all about. The freedom to make you own choice as to what’s “appropriate”.

    You either have free speech, or you don’t. To limit speech to only where “appropriate” is the death of free speech, since then it’s the state which decides what exactly is “appropriate”, and that’s unamerican!.

  49. Under the “logic” that’s behind such an amendment, legislating against the use of racial slurs and the like would seem like a cinch. How about banning the display of the swastika?

  50. Paul writes: “This may just be my craziest idea yet”¦ but how about liquid nitrogen? They outlaw burning a flag? Freeze ”˜em! Dip ”˜em in the stuff then shatter in a completely harmless manner.”

    I kinda like it.
    M.H.W. and a Veteran for the Fist Amendment

  51. Paul, you just proved that you are as ignorant about Jesus as you are about our country.

    Nameless, most of the people you are telling to “put up or shut up” do “put up”. Even if they did not, they still have the right to speak their minds. BYW, do you “put up”?

  52. Timothy West: Mind if I steal part of your statement for a new video?

    steal away, my man. If i ws getting paid for my ramblings, it’d be a different story.

  53. Unless you missed that I was being sarcastic, or maybe thought my sarcasm was a bit heavy handed(it was).

  54. gabe,

    I’m not getting paid either. It serves 2 purposes: the party gets free ads and I learn a new craft, which is good becuase I can’t do my old one anymore.

  55. Fortunately, this amendment failed by one vote. But, if it had passed, there would be many legal ramifications. Courts would be clogged interpreting the living and breathing Constitution.

    For example, would restrictions on flag burning be extended to state flags? Or the flags of sports teams? Would laws also apply to merely melting plastic flags or defacing power of pride bumper stickers with red and white stripes? And what about burning flags in the privacy of your own home?

    But seriously, as many Senators have claimed, burning the flag dishonors people who fight over flags. Think of all the Nam vets suffering from PTSD with visions of hippies wrapped in burning flags. Maybe those guys should have fought for something besides flags.

    Reminds me of an old hippie joke:

    Q: Why did the short-hair cross the road?
    A: Because somebody told him to.
    Q: Why did the long-hair cross the road?
    A: Because somebody told him not to.

    Good thing the amendment failed – I need a haircut

  56. Paul, not knowing you, I did not recognize your diatribe as sarcasm. I am glad to know that is how you intended it.

    Tom, I am very happy the amendment failed. It it a small victory because it should have failed with a majority.

  57. I feel sad for the fact that we have let our country take the First Ammendment and turn into a “flag” that a person can wave over any hurtful or outlandish thing they feel is their “God given right” to say/do. Further, I feel that all this ranting about “I’ll go out and burn one if the ammendment passes” only further instigates ignorance.

    I am proud to be a contributing member of our country. And the only “GOD GIVEN RIGHTS” that most of you claim are the ones where you can spit in the face of your country, stomp on the ground that many have died for and curse the name of the “God” that gave you your rights!

    Tomorrow you will have a new gripe…

  58. yes Barbara, I did, do, and will continue to “put up”

    I know many people on here do “put up”, and those that don’t still have the right to say what they feel. It’s just a good expression to get people off or their arses and write their senators about an important issue that they obviously feel strongly about.

    sometimes I’m not the most subtle of people. that’s one of the reasons I don’t run for office (that and my job).

  59. SD, you still don’t get it.

    We love the good as well as the bad. But the good never comes under attack and therefore never needs defending.

    Don’t worry, I’ll keep defending your right to disagree with me.

  60. No one ”“ and I repeat, no one ”“ has ever died for a flag. See, a flag ”¦ is just a piece of cloth. They may have died for freedom, which is also the freedom to burn the fuckin’ flag, see. That’s freedom.”

    Comment by Stephen VanDyke ”” 2006-06-26 @ 10:32 pm
    Yes they have. It is a symbol, which makes it more than just a piece of cloth.

    For myself, I consider using the Flag to punch holes in
    our basic Liberties as abhorent as burning it
    Maybe more so. That still does not lessen
    my respect for what it stands for.

    You tell the brave men though the History of our Nation who have died in an attempt to keep their Flag from being
    dishonored by falling into the hands of the enemy that it never happened.

    Symbols are symbols because they MEAN something to those that hold them as symbols.

    Its more than just another tattered rag.

    There is too much blood on that Flag for me to abandon my respect
    for it, because others have none.

    There is too much blood on that Flag for me to acquiese to it
    being used to limit our basic Liberty

    It was to defend, protect and perserve that Liberty that blood was shed.

  61. SD

    The flag is symbolic. Did all dead soldiers throughout our history die in vain for freedom if we continue to allow beaucrats from an ignorant clerk in a town of 50 to the President to trample on our Constitutional rights? Personally, I will die on a battle field to prevent the flag from falling into enemy hands. Patriotism cannot be dictated or legislated. It has to come from within.

    We need to educate the ignorant about what patriotism is all about. We cannot fill prisons with flag burners. I personally believe we now live in a moral state of decay and it is far worse than a sewer but forcing people to love our nation will never work. If we go upside down as a nation, it will not be because we burned flags. It will be because we have failed to educate our children about the greatness of our nation, the opportunities it has afforded and now incremental loss of freedom.

    I am 60 and not as free as I was when I was 21. Examples of loss of freedom are numerous.

  62. Well Dan, I’d say the words are the important part, and the paper and ink themselves really aren’t.

  63. I love this “one vote short” bullshit. So much sturm und drang with so little actual relevance. Shit, we could just replace Congress with a kabuki play.

  64. The people in charge love us to get bent about shit like this.
    It keeps us talking about this instead of figuring out real political strategy to attack their weak spots like Iraq and their out of control spending.

  65. SD — “I may despise what you say, but I will *DEFEND TO THE DEATH* your right to say it”

    This is a quote of one man… but it is one that *EVERY SINGLE ONE* of the Founding Fathers agreed with.

    Who is turning what into what, now? The 1st Amendment is the BEST OF ALL FLAGS to wave. Why? Because one can make a true and realistic argument that the ability to speak your greivances in any manner you see fit without possibility of repercussion (sp?) as close to the root source of all freedoms.

    There’s a reason why it’s the *FIRST* Amendment.

  66. (Corrolary)

    Just discovered that the defend to the death quote, while attributed to Voltaire, is really a quote from “The Friends of Voltaire”, by Evelyn Beatrice Hall.

    So the “One Man” bit isn’t quite right — more like one person. Ah, well.

    … now if only onna those plastic soldier-boys would tell me what the other half of the battle was…

  67. Then I’d have special 49 star flags made up. Since such a flag never existed, it isn’t a real US flag and I would burn it happily.

    Actually, it did exist. It was in use for only one year, 4 July 1959 ”“ 3 July 1960

  68. Move out of the country if you detest the flag, the President and the land you live upon.

    So all the people who don’t like the president should move out? That’s kind of crazy don’t you think?

    I love my country but I hate the government of my country.

  69. alt.world — flags that have been soiled need to be disposed of in the legally prescribed manner.

    In this case, it would be by burning.

  70. Julian-

    Thank you for your service to our country. What freedoms do not exist today that you had forty years ago? It seems we all discuss how we as a country have evolved and more freedoms are present now than ever. I would like to hear your points as you are one of the more well-spoken on this blog.

  71. SD

    1. I could travel alone at age 9. I visited Atlanta with a friend from Savannah riding a train to Atlanta, 250 miles away.
    2. I hunted and fished at the same age without adult supervision. It was legal and an accepted way of life.
    3. I purchased a rifle and ammunition without papers at 13 from a hardware store.
    4. I went to the grocery store at age 7 and purchased cigarettes for my parents.
    5. My dog attended grammer school with me from second grade through seventh grade. The only rule was my dog and the dogs of my friends must behave if in the classroom by lying next to our desks.
    6. I was allowed to wear a hunting knife in a sheath to school.
    7. Every boy I knew carried a pocket knife to school for whittling and cutting. They were big knives, not pen knives.
    8. Driver’s licenses were issued at age 14.
    9. Legal drinking age was 18.
    10. All public buildings including all areas were open to the public. There were no barriers or shake downs to enter.

  72. 11. Entrance to and use of public lands were free. There were no charges (with the possible exception of camping which was only a token fee).
    12. We could go anywhere, anytime on public land (except military installations) without seeing some “do not” sign every 10 feet.
    13. Fishing, crabbing, shrimping and collecting oysters was allowed by citizens, albiet one must practice good stewardship of the natural resources. Now all rights are leased and one must have a license.
    14. There were no real restrictions on jobs preteens and teens could do. I dabbled in everything from selling fruits at a fruitstand to working construction before age sixteen.
    15. The law was your parents. There were no social service workers dictating how one should raise their children.
    16. Fist fights were a socially acceptable way for kids to settle disputes. No other weapons were allowed.
    17. Fireworks were legal everywhere. Some were really powerful.
    18. There were no seatbelt laws.

  73. I can think of another hundred examples. Reflecting on how it was and how it is now even sharpens the contrast for me. No wonder children sit at home all day and night on computers, playing games and watching movies and TV. I would not like to be boxed in either.

    Your generation must change the direction of our government. This country is too great to have a complete loss of the freedoms your parents, grandparents and ancestors enjoyed.

    I believe public education should be #1 priority. It must be destroyed and privatized if future generations are to prosper. It is totally out of control everywhere all the time.

  74. I would never burn my American flag. I treasure too highly the image of the rattlesnake and pine bough on field of yellow.


  75. Spector is and always has been a quintessential asshole, in this case too stupid to understand, or too devious to admit (disclaimer: any implication of mutual exclusivity is unintended), that while cotton or polyester fabric can be burned, a “symbol” cannot.


  76. Julian, thanks for your response. In order to prosper as a country we need to identify why it is we need such licenses, restrictions and so forth. At some point before my time, a turn began in our country where the unspoken rules were no longer sufficient. I also believe that the leniency (sp) on our children is part of the reason for such losses. When did teachers lose the right to run their classrooms? Anyway, that is my take.

    Though I still strongly disagree that flag burning is “ok” anytime (due to my own feelings that aren’t up for discussion), I totally see what you are talking about with the restrictions we see today.

    Happy Independence Day.