The Instigator
YoungWisdom
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Flyer
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

A Right to Flag Burning in the United States

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/29/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 785 times Debate No: 8824
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (9)
Votes (0)

 

YoungWisdom

Pro

It seems that very few people understand what constitutes valid grounds for legislating laws in this country. Restrictions on individuals are supposed to be legislated solely on the basis of protecting civil liberties. Unless an individual's actions either DIRECTLY infringe upon the rights of someone else, or they diminish the government's ability to protect civil liberties, the government should have no say. Flag burning doesn't meet either of these conditions.
Flyer

Con

A flag is a symbol, sometimes a symbolic destruction can be just as harmful as a direct one. By allowing burning of a symbol of any country would anger a lot of people. Sometimes indirect infringement of rights is not protecting civil liberties as the opposition says. Can you imagine what would happen if this law was not in place? How people would react and feel when others burnt the flag of the country they are love and are loyal too? No one should have to right to let people destroy a symbol of anything so cherished.
Debate Round No. 1
YoungWisdom

Pro

Saying that people would be angered by something is basically a way of saying that they consider something offensive. Labeling something as offensive is merely a way of saying "I don't like something." Not liking something is not a reason to outlaw it. Part of the reason for this is that EVERYTHING is considered offensive by someone. People could be offended by a simple statement you make. People could be offended by your beliefs. People can even be offended by the color of your skin. If we were to legislate a ban on flag burning, then logically we would have to legislate a ban on everything else (which, of course, is a practical impossibility).

I myself am a devout patriot. I am very pleased to live in the country in which I live. In many ways, it is the freest nation on Earth, particularly in terms of freedom of speech and expression. However, I believe in other ways we could be much freer. Expanding marriage rights to everyone of legal age, for instance. A ban on flag burning would merely be a step back; we would be more like other nations, and that would give us something about which to be less proud.

In terms of symbols, I personally don't believe the government should entitle rights to an inanimate, non-living object (in this case, a piece of cloth), particularly at the expense of the rights of the people. Destroying a symbol is not the same thing as harming the thing it represents; it is merely expressing disapproval of it.
Flyer

Con

Flyer forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
YoungWisdom

Pro

YoungWisdom forfeited this round.
Flyer

Con

Flyer forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
YoungWisdom

Pro

YoungWisdom forfeited this round.
Flyer

Con

Flyer forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
YoungWisdom

Pro

YoungWisdom forfeited this round.
Flyer

Con

Flyer forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by YoungWisdom 7 years ago
YoungWisdom
I'm sorry you feel that way; I don't think your arguments were irrational, I merely thought that you had some flaws in them.
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
I didn't assume you to be angry, but rather condescending, hence the conclusion that you were "upset." I don't really need my knowledge "refreshed," and I suppose I take offense to the tone of the responses.
Posted by Brock_Meyer 7 years ago
Brock_Meyer
http://www.debate.org...

Just wanted to let you know that I did this debate less than 2 days ago. But I won't blame you if you start another with the same resolution; my debate wasn't much of a one ;).
Posted by YoungWisdom 7 years ago
YoungWisdom
Oh, and you seem to think I was angry at you or something. Don't worry, I'm not; we're just discussing.
Posted by YoungWisdom 7 years ago
YoungWisdom
First, I must once again point out that rights exist entirely because a government entitles people to them. Before civilization, before government, there weren't such things as "rights;" the actions of individuals simply WERE. The only way in which you could reasonably argue for the existence of "natural rights" would be that they exist only under anarchy (i.e. under anarchy, I would "legally" be allowed to do whatever I want). Therefore, ALL right, civil liberties, etc. are entirely subjective, and not just some of them, as you suggest.

You also seemed to have missed the point I made in my argument about defending civil liberties; laws should not be legislated restricting individuals UNLESS the actions of those individuals infringe upon the rights of others. So the question is not whether or not we have a right to burn flags, as you mistakenly suggest; the question is "does flag burning infringe upon the rights of others?"

I also feel I need to refresh your understanding of the definition of "empirical." Empirical implies that rights can be studied and determined in an objective, scientific way. How you manage to apply that to the subject at hand is beyond me. You also seem to think that merely because a government recognizes a right, or that a particular philosopher recognizes that right, that it somehow makes it intrinsically so. Keep in mind that the most US States do not recognize gay marriage as legitimate; that's not a valid argument against gay marriage.

By using the example of burning a flag is someone's yard, you've distracted from the main point. The side I'm arguing for isn't condoning that. However, I WILL respond to it by saying that the reason that should be illegal has nothing to do with the demonstration; it has to do with the fact that you are infringing upon one's right to property by purchase.
Posted by untitled_entity 7 years ago
untitled_entity
5 rounds seems like quite a bit to debate this topic.
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
All of the below statements you've made are highly debatable, especially in a philosophical, political, & legal realm. Not only are "natural rights" something that have been expounded by the greatest philosophers of the human race (from the Greeks to right now), but they are empirically affirmed by organizations such as the UN, whose membership seems to be able to agree upon a basic set of human rights. Flag burning is not amongst them, primarily because nations vary so much on what constitutes acceptable free speech and whatnot. If anything, flag burning is a more subjective concept than basic human rights.

I don't misunderstand anything. Legally and philosophically, burning a flag is a civil liberty, not a human right. For example, if I were to burn a flag in someone else's yard, (for the purposes of argument, we'll say the US), it would most likely do some form of damage, minor or major. That's a legal violation of someone's right to property, as recognized not only by the UN in the Declaration of Human Rights, but philosophers such as John Locke, whose natural rights closely align with the UN's declaration.

The Supreme Court, through a number of cases, has set the precedent that burning said flag is an act of free expression/speech (beginning with a draft card burning case in, I believe, 1960). However, there are caveats to that act that one cannot violate, or one faces prosecution. My right to life is much more finite & protected than my "right" to burn a flag whenever I want to.

I wasn't posting to be a contrarian or to upset you. Merely to make an interesting, and despite what you think, educated observation. It won't happen again. Enjoy your debate.
Posted by YoungWisdom 7 years ago
YoungWisdom
In response to alto2osu: First and foremost, you seem to misunderstand the definition of "right." A right is an entitlement granted by the government, of any kind, onto an individual. Beyond that, there exists no such thing as "natural rights," or "human rights" as you put it, at least not beyond ones personal and unjustifiable opinion. Second and lattermost, there is not currently, nor can I imagine there EVER being a right that can be guaranteed by the government that would somehow prohibit flag burning.
Posted by alto2osu 7 years ago
alto2osu
Though I believe flag burning to be just (most of time time), I'm wondering how much you know about the fluctuation of civil liberties within a "democratic" state. Our civil liberties are never static. At least, not all of them. Human rights tend to be, on the other hand.
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