Pharyngula

i-cea5c5b44c61b73ac441633eaac0ab36-doonesbury_flag.jpg

You must read Doonesbury today. We ought to be laughing ourselves silly every time those Republicans dredge up a flag burning amendment to distract everyone from their other ridiculous, failed policies.

Comments

  1. #1 naturalist
    July 30, 2006

    Excellent Doonesbury comment on the hypocrisy and mindless pandering of Republicans(and Democrats also)involving this issue
    This shameful exercise of political grandstanding and drama comes from the same wackos who demand that we display the 10 commandements everywhere, which if I recall says that we shall not “idolize” images.

  2. #2 JoeB
    July 30, 2006

    Zing! again. It’s funny, didn’t Abby Hoffman wear a shirt made out of an American flag as a protest? Now it’s a symbol of how much the latest country singer loves America. Seems that under the amendment, they could prosecute Hoffman but not Toby Keith, even though Hoffman’s protest is arguably more American that Keith’s mindless loyalty.

  3. #3 Zeno
    July 30, 2006

    Did you know that Roy Rogers & Dale Evans were dangerous radicals who used to wear American flag cowboy outfits in protest of the Republican administration of President Eisenhower? I mean, why else would they have worn such disrespectful get-ups? No doubt that inspired Abbie Hoffman.

    No doubt.

  4. #4 quork
    July 30, 2006

    Trial date set in flag case

    Published July 14, 2006 10:56 pm

    Scott Wayne Roe, 40, of Ottumwa is accused of desecrating the United States flag June 4 when he displayed the flag upside down at his residence and wrote “Corruption of Blood,” a phrase from the U.S. Constitution, on the flag…

    Flag Flying Controversy

    Corydon Ia, July 6, 2006- An Iowa farmers protest of the governments treatment of soldiers serving in the war in Iraq is creating some controversy in Wayne county. The farmer, Dale Klyn, recently hung his flag upside down as a way to show his disapproval for the direction the country is moving…

  5. #5 George
    July 30, 2006

    I got a flag decal on the back of my Ford F250 pick-up. That makes me more ‘Merican than you and I’m never gonna peel it off. Go blow, you sedan-driving wussy flag haters!

  6. #6 Ken Cope
    July 30, 2006

    Don’t Torch That Flag, Hand Me the Lighter! is a Firesign Theatre Flash game where it’s downright patriotic to burn the flag. With guest stars Abbie Hoffman and George W. Bush.

  7. #7 Jason
    July 30, 2006

    Kind of like those Democrats dredging up the “right to gay marriage” to distract from their ever deepening powerlessness and irrelevancy.

  8. #8 j
    July 30, 2006

    Really? I thought it was the Republicans dredging up a gay marriage ban.

  9. #9 Ken Cope
    July 30, 2006

    Jason, is your marriage so fragile that it must be defended by changing the Constitution to discrminate against homosexuals who love each other enough to try to marry each other?

    Wouldn’t counseling be a remedy on a more appropriate scale?

    I hope the Republicans hurry up with that amendment, or Jason is going to be hitting those gay bars willy nilly.

  10. #10 Kristjan Wager
    July 30, 2006

    I’m pretty sure that there was a Doonesbury strip with a similar plot last time an anti-flag burning law was up (back in the Reagan days?)

  11. #11 Millimeter Wave
    July 30, 2006

    Jason,
    how is the weather on your planet today?

  12. #12 justawriter
    July 30, 2006

    “But your flag decal won’t get you
    Into Heaven any more.
    They’re already overcrowded
    From your dirty little war.
    Now Jesus don’t like killin’
    No matter what the reason’s for,
    And your flag decal won’t get you
    Into Heaven any more.”

    Funny how all these 1960s protest songs seem to be relevant again.

  13. #13 MAJeff
    July 30, 2006

    The Democrats are pushing gay marriage? Really? It seems to me, as a gay man, that they can’t run away from that issue, indeed from folks like me and the issues that affect our lives, fast enough. It must have been my imagination that a Democrat signed both Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and DOMA; and that same Democrat told Kerry to cut us loose in 2004. Then again, reality never was Jason’s strong suit.

  14. #14 just john
    July 30, 2006

    Doonesbury picks up on half of a point I’ve been going on about for years: How about old flags, with 48 or 36 or 13 stars? The other half of the point is: How ’bout flags that haven’t existed, like with 12 stars, or might exist in the future … 56 stars, anybody?

    Our dear old extensible flag! It’s got conquest built right into it!

    Me, I’m against flag consecration, but I do wish that people who flew the flag would actually keep it in good repair, and do the same for flag pictures. Ever see a bumper sticker saying “THESE COLORS NEVER RUN!” next to a picture of a sky-blue, gray and pink flag?

  15. #15 Joe Shelby
    July 30, 2006

    Doonesbury did that earlier, during the last flag-burning push in the late ’80s (using Mark).

    Personally, I think even the physical flag aspect isn’t the worst of it. Will a state pass a law that states that calling the flag “a fucking piece of cloth” is desecration and therefore not protected by the constitution under the new amendment?

  16. #16 Michael
    July 30, 2006

    What about all those flags fluttering from cars (bill Mahr called them “literally the least you can do to support your country.”) They get mud splattered, torn, frayed, bird pooped. I love the ridiculousness of this debate.

  17. #17 Dan
    July 30, 2006

    Jason:

    Kind of like those Democrats dredging up the “right to gay marriage” to distract from their ever deepening powerlessness and irrelevancy.

    Wow.

    I think that Jason has just decisively won yet another battle in his eternal crusade against objective reality.

  18. #18 Abel Pharmboy
    July 30, 2006

    Arrr! Ye landlubbers may not recall, but when I was a-sailin’ the high seas, the upside down flag was a sign of distress; can you imagine the US Coast Guard coming to your rescue, only to issue you a summons or deportation order to Gitmo. In fact, after 9/11 when the USCG was moved under the Dept of Homeland Security, the ‘inverted ensign’ was no longer recognized as a distress signal, probably because we have taken to using it to express that the entire nation is in distress.

    Flag amendment: what a bloody waste of time and energy when we can’t even feed all of our own people, much less go killing others overseas.

  19. #19 Bob O'H
    July 30, 2006

    Whilst we’re being satirical, Mike Argento has shown that Bush is guilty of murder.

    Bob

  20. #20 RW
    July 30, 2006

    The flag of the United States is rather chronically abused, at least based upon the federal code governing its appropriate display and treatment, and the ones most guilty of maltreating our national emblem not surprisingly are those who tend to display it most frequently; for example, in 2003 George W. Bush signed his autograph on a flag, a clear violation of the code which forbids any writing or printing on the national symbol except as prescribed by congress. That said it’s a pretty safe bet that most members of congress, to say nothing of the current administration, are completely clueless when it comes to what is or is not acceptable conduct in regards to the country’s flag.

    So for everyone here is a quick refresher in the rules governing flag decorum provided by Kenneth C. Davis, author of “Don’t know much about history: Everything you need to know about American history but never learned.”

    The federal code governing appropriate flag decorum was developed in 1923 and formally adopted by the US congress in 1942. The preamble to the law states, in part, that “the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”

    Currently the law should be considered more as a set of guidelines or “do’s” and “don’ts” because, at least to date, all attempts to criminalize inappropriate use of the flag have been ruled unconstitutional (lucky for most of us including government agencies, members of congress and the aforementioned President Bush). Here are some more examples of the most commonly violated rules:

    The flag should normally only be displayed from sunrise to sunset. If displayed at night it should be appropriately illuminated and, unless specifically designed for “all weather” use, should not be left out during inclement weather.

    If displayed on a vehicle the flag’s staff should be firmly clamped to the chassis or right fender. The flag should not be flown from an antenna or displayed as a decal on vehicle windows. Even if appropriately mounted the flag should be destroyed if it has become badly worn or tattered (see below for flag disposal protocol); damaged flags are normally only retained or displayed when they represent a point of honor such as a battle.

    The flag should never be used as apparel (Ralph Lauren please take note) nor as a part of athletic uniform; exceptions are made for the uniforms of military personnel, firemen, police and specific patriotic organizations granted that honor. The code also specifically forbids using the flag for any advertising purpose whatsoever, no exceptions.

    The flag should not be carried flat or horizontally; neither should it be dipped to any thing or person. The flag should not be on the ground even in painted or chalked form where it may be walked upon nor should it be part of common use ware; e.g., flag napkins, paper plates and table cloths are common picnic items on July 4 but all these are violations of the code (wiping your mouth or spilling mustard from your hot dog on the flag are hardly acts of respect).

    On the other hand it is not considered a desecration if the flag touches the ground nor is it necessary under the code to destroy it if it does so. The code states that a flag should be destroyed only when it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of the United States. How that call is made can vary but the preferred method of destruction is by fire; disposing of it in the garbage is a no-no. American Legion posts and local Boy Scout troops often provide disposal of worn flags, burning them with due ceremony.

  21. #21 naturalist
    July 30, 2006

    Can anybody say anal-retentive? To have so many rules for something so relatively insignificant as a piece of colored fabric is nothing but ridiculous. There are much more important things in real life to respect, preserve and protect than a symbolic icon.

  22. #22 Abel Pharmboy
    July 30, 2006

    naturalist, i sense that rw’s message from ken davis’ book is that simple decorum should be implicit in being an american, yet is forgotten, ignored, or, worse, never learned by those most likely to propagandize the flag. my dad would kick our asses (those of me AND my snot-nosed friends, back when it was acceptable to correct kids of other people in your community) at little league baseball games if we didn’t take off our caps, put them over our hearts, and sing the god-damned star-spangled frickin’ banner.

    but, agreed, is the point that there are far more serious, less symbolic issues facing this nation and the world that deserve the limited attention of the US Congress and Supreme Court.

  23. #23 cfeagans
    July 30, 2006

    The only way Old Glory can be desecrated is if Congress passes an amendment banning its desecration.

  24. #24 RW
    July 30, 2006

    Abel, exactly so.

  25. #25 oldhippie
    July 30, 2006

    “the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”
    I guess that is no more bizzare than seriously praying to an imaginary friend.

  26. #26 adamsj
    July 30, 2006

    oldhippie, I feel the way about the constitution that the code feels about the flag, and the constitution is about as far from imaginary as a friend can be.

  27. #27 Mike Fox
    July 30, 2006

    RW makes some great points about respecting our flag. Others, like naturalist, make the point that respecting our flag is analogous to respecting a dishtowel and we should focus our attention to more important matters. I agree with both.

    If we can’t respect the common things in our lives, what makes us think we can respect uncommon things or dictate how others ought to respect things? We disagree with countless ideologies, but we often fail to take the time to be respectful about it. In science, this behaviour would be seen similar to PYGMIES + DWARFS and ignored or shunned. The code RW summarizes lets the political world know who to start ignoring or shunning.

    So, oldhippie, George and others, when someone responds to your declarations about the flag like you’re ignorant, you now know (partially?) why. Good luck!

    Mike Fox

  28. #28 Caledonian
    July 30, 2006

    oldhippie, I feel the way about the constitution that the code feels about the flag, and the constitution is about as far from imaginary as a friend can be.

    The code is a simple collection of rules — it feels nothing. The Constitution is a collection of statements, assertions, and defined properties — it is no one’s friend, literally or metaphorically.

    You, by contaminating your reason with base sentiment and attributing human attributes to unliving information, have demonstrated yourself to be an idiot.

  29. #29 George Cauldron
    July 31, 2006

    Kind of like those Democrats dredging up the “right to gay marriage” to distract from their ever deepening powerlessness and irrelevancy.

    No, Jason, you dingbat, it’s Republicans thumping for a Gay Marriage BAN.

    I’ve noticed something, Jason. Your defenses of Republican or Fundy idiocy never consist of anything except attacks on Clinton, liberals, the Democrats, atheists, or PZ. Why are you incapable of defending your heroes? Not very bright?

  30. #30 G. Tingey
    July 31, 2006

    Erm – flying the flag (any national flag) uoside-down is an internationally recognised DISTRESS CALL.

    I also suggest people look up the “Devils Dictionary” (Abrose Bierce) defintion of a flag ……

  31. #31 Magnus
    July 31, 2006

    Hmm, i wonder how they do it in my native country Norway. When flipped over the horizontal axis, it’s a sort of flag-equivalent of a plaindrome. Same goes for Sweden and France and many other countries flags.

    As for the american flag upside down it’s used as a label for the record company American records , who hosts among others Johnny Cash and System of a Down as their artists. I guess it could be associated with the upside down X-tian cross, which is regarded as a stanic sympol by some people.

    Anyway, not familiar with the exact laws, or proposed bills of the US, what is the right definition of a flag when it comes to desecartion. Is a drawing of a flag, or a picture of a flag to be considerd as symbolic as a flag itself? Are bumperstickers to be considered too? What about the flags on the bombs used by the military? If a ban of flag desecration forbids the use of bombs maybe there are really positive side effects of this? I recall having lunch with Abdellah Hammoudi in Lillehammer in june where he told med his reasons for rejecting an American citizenship although it was offered to him. If ever his native country of Morocco were to be bombed by the USA, he wouldn’t want the same stars on those bombes to be in his passport. Subsequently, with all his traveling in and out of the US it is quite a tedious process armed only with a Moroccan passport, accepting an American passport would have made his travelling fare more comfortable.

    I guess for some people the symbolics of flags are an emotional thing too. It’s an interpretation which includes historic meanings and uses which far surpasses the original intent whith which a flag or any national symbol was made for.

  32. #32 Keith Douglas
    July 31, 2006

    Like the proposed amendments, I’d think that all the worry about flag protocol takes away from other serious issues. For example, are other places going to follow Chicago’s interesting lead on wages?

  33. #33 RW
    July 31, 2006

    “…contaminating your reason with base sentiment and attributing human attributes to unliving information…”

    What sort of sophomoric twaddle is this; a post-modernist case for solipsism? All text from the constitution to proposed legislation to the text present now on this screen is “unliving information,” lacking putative meaning, so why respond to it or anything else expressed in language?

    For the record Abel Pharmboy and Mike Fox understood the bulk of my meaning in posting the flag code (since it was ‘unliving information,’ a feeble nod to meaningless metaphor, I suppose we must assume some arcane cybernetic semiosis contributed to their comprehension, possibly through the sub-ether).

    It is possible to reject injustice or hypocrisy personally but it is not possible to effectively fight the inhumane socially in the absence of sociohistorical knowledge and growing alliance; both require a certain willingness to risk ‘contamination’ by the values of ‘others’ (otherwise known as sharing and cooperation).

  34. #34 Watchman
    July 31, 2006

    >> Whilst we’re being satirical, Mike Argento has shown that Bush is guilty of murder.< < Heh... yeah. Once again we have an instance of unprecedented abuse of Executive power. Here's a brief but informed and (I think) balanced opinion on the issue: "A president's ability to decline to enforce unconstitutional laws is an important safeguard of both separation of powers and individual liberty." But: "The Bush administration's frequent and seemingly cavalier refusal to enforce laws, which is aggravated by its avoidance of judicial review and even public disclosure of its actions, places it at odds with these principles and with predecessors of both parties." Both statements come from an Op-Ed piece in today's NYT on signing statements, by Walter Dellinger, a former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Full text here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/31/opinion/31Dellinger.html?ex=1155009600&en=8a459782297a1d78&ei=5070&emc=eta1

  35. #35 Chris
    July 31, 2006

    “A president’s ability to decline to enforce unconstitutional laws is an important safeguard of both separation of powers and individual liberty.”

    The President of the United States has no such ability. He is clearly obligated to enforce all laws, until and unless they are ruled unconstitutional _by a body with appropriate authority to do so_ (i.e. the Supreme Court – Congress can repeal the laws, but that says nothing about whether or not they were originally constitutional). At most, he can _request_ a temporary injunction against the law pending definite determination of its constitutionality (which he must actually ask for, not avoid).

    If the President were allowed to follow only those laws he agreed with, it would destroy the separation of powers. It is his clear constitutional duty to obey and carry out all laws, including those he disagrees with.

    It’s hard to see how anyone who is even capable of reading the Constitution could get this wrong by accident.

    Or suppose President Bush signed a law, passed by a lame-duck Congress, which prohibited the removal of the defense secretary for 10 years. If the next president complied with the statute, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could remain in office against the wishes of the new president, and no one would have standing to challenge this violation in court.

    This guy is a lawyer? President Bush’s successor would have his authority diminished by the hypothetical law, which materially harms him. He has at least as much standing as Coolidge had in the case cited earlier in the same article. Although, in fact, I’m not sure such a law would actually be unconstitutional, clearly the successor President would be able to challenge it.

    But not to arbitrarily disregard it.

    In any case, the issue wouldn’t arise at all unless the 2008 Congress refused to repeal the law in question.

    The President has neither the competence nor the authority to decide the constitutionality of statutes. He can of course have opinions, but those opinions have no legal standing. To disregard his constitutional duty to carry out the laws based only on his own personal opinion of those laws is an act of serious malfeasance (of which President Bush is obviously guilty on many occasions).

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