The Instigator
wingnut2280
Pro (for)
Losing
41 Points
The Contender
Mangani
Con (against)
Winning
45 Points

Flag Burning

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/14/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,126 times Debate No: 2641
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (15)
Votes (18)

 

wingnut2280

Pro

People should be allowed to burn the flag. It is a statement of free speech (symbolic) and protest. Both of which are constitutionally protected. I think the act is disfavorable. That is to say I don't personally agree with it. But, it is important to defend civil liberties like free speech and flag burning certainly qualifies.
Mangani

Con

I assume you challenged me to this debate based on my personal position against flag burning. My position is simple- you can burn a flag all you want, but don't cry "murder" or "assault" when someone hurts you or even kills you for it.

There is no intelligent argument in support of the act of flag burning- not to say there is no intelligent argument in support of the RIGHT to burn a flag. What purpose does burning a flag serve? Does it send a message that you are discontent with the government of the country in which you live in? Not really- the flag doesn't represent the government. Could it be a protest against the Administration? No- the flag does not represent the administration. Can it be regarded as a protest against specific citizens of a country? No- the flag represents the entire nation. The only intelligent defense in favor of the actual act of flag burning is that you would like to see that country destroyed.

A flag, a guidon, a shield, a crest- they all represent the people belonging to a specific country, nation, culture, region, religion, etc. Burning the flag does not affect the sentiments of the government, it does not change policies, it does not bring about change. Burning a flag can only serve to anger those who identify with the flag.

I am an ardent defender of free speech. I am very anti-establishment, and I have taken part in MANY protests. I am a Nationalist (not American), and I would take great offense against the burning of the flag that represents my country. I would defend anyone who was disenfranchised, unheard, or unrepresented, but I would also beat the living crap out of anyone who burned my nation's flag. In short, my position against flag burning is not a legal or a political position, rather one of respect for those who may identify themselves with a flag that to ME might represent one thing, but a completely different thing to those who identify with that particular flag.

A flag is a symbol, and flag burning is not an act of free speech, rather a symbolic expression of violence. Fire represents conflict, war, weaponry, killing, struggle, etc. Noone burns a flag with the expectation that someone will smile and hug them, rather someone will get pissed and confront them. I would gladly burn a Confederate flag, piss on it, wipe my rear end with it, crap on it, and drag it through the mud (as if the rest wasn't enough), but I would also be prepared to defend myself. I would be prepared to defend myself physically, verbally, and with weapons if the situation required it- but the last thing I would expect is for people NOT to be offended to the point of wanting to confront me. Therein lies the hipocrisy behind those who defend flag burning- many of you write checks that your a$$ can't cash. Flag burning just happens to be one of those checks.
Debate Round No. 1
wingnut2280

Pro

So, your cool with it as long as I can keep my butt from getting kicked? If no one comes to beat the crap out of me it was fine?

Flag burning is meant to be contreversial. Radical means of symbolic speech are the only ones that can bring about change sometimes. Extreme measures make people look and realize that it has come to that point. Instead of quietly casting your vote amongst millions or forming yet another protest, flag burning can serve as one of the most effective avenues of voicing opinions.

I realize you would personally get pissed if someone burned your country's flag. But, how can you be against flag burning when you admit you would burn and desecrate one yourself? I think that is the very definition of hypocrisy and your position makes NO SENSE.
Mangani

Con

I think it would be ignorant to have a legal stance against flag burning. I do think there are aspects of free speech that should not be encouraged by the government, and given their violent nature I believe authorities should be lenient on someone who kicks someone's butt for burning the flag of their nation.

I believe people should have the common sense to realize that flag burning is an act of violence, and should not be surprised if it is met as such. If I was a lawyer I would probably defend someone's LEGAL right to burn a flag, but on the same token if it was my flag I would kick their butt. That is not hypocrisy, that is knowing the difference between a legal right and moral retaliation. Moral retaliation can be expected when someone is offended, though the offense may not be illegal. This is not hypocritical at all.

It's the same stance as many who believe abortion should not be illegal, yet would be angered, offended, and heartbroken (some to the point of violence) if it was their baby that was aborted. Anybody with any sense knows the difference between right and wrong, but many of us believe that someone else's choice of expression of right and wrong is their own personal choice, and will not take a personal stance against that choice unless they are personally adversely affected.

"So, your cool with it as long as I can keep my butt from getting kicked? If no one comes to beat the crap out of me it was fine?"

-My point is that even though flag burning is not legally viewed as an act of violence one should expect for it to be viewed as an act of violence by those offended. Flag burning should be carried out with the same caution as spitting in someone's face (though spitting in someone's face is actually illegal). Though the law may not characterize this act as "assault", it may trigger the same response from those affected.

"Flag burning is meant to be controversial."

-Flag burning is controversial extremism, and that is my point. The act should be carried out with the expectation that one may want to retaliate at a more escalated level than the flag burner may have expected.

"Radical means of symbolic speech are the only ones that can bring about change sometimes."

-And crashing a plane into two very tall buildings fits into the category of "radical means of symbolic speech", but that doesn't take away from it's terrible violence and casualties. I am not saying burning a flag is akin to terrorism, but it is as radical because it can stir the same response from those affected as the images of terror can.

"Extreme measures make people look and realize that it has come to that point."

-If the people who are under those extreme measures feel it has become that extreme, then they should also be prepared for violent action. Flag burning is not peaceful protest, but violent instigation.

"But, how can you be against flag burning when you admit you would burn and desecrate one yourself?"

-I couldn't have a stance against flag burning if I didn't feel the potential violent reaction within myself and others at the thought of an offense against my own flag. I would have no need to burn a flag if I did not feel I could cause this same anger in those identified with the flag I would desire to burn or otherwise desecrate. It is because of the knowledge of this violent nature in flag burning that I am against it being socially acceptable as a peaceful form of protest and an expression of one's right to free speech. Just because I would set up a machine gun and mow down a KKK procession doesn't mean I don't believe in their right to march in the first place... is that hypocrisy? If so, then I'm a happy hypocrite.

"I think that is the very definition of hypocrisy and your position makes NO SENSE."

-You have stated how my position makes no sense. You even fail to prove how it is hypocritical.
Debate Round No. 2
wingnut2280

Pro

Your argument is that flag burning is legal, but offensive. So, I should be prepared to be assaulted if I exercise my right to free speech.

How can you advocate assaulting someone for exercising their rights? Would you beat the hell out of Rosa Parks if that was supposed to be your bus seat? Would you gas protesters if you didn't like their message? What if you didn't like Jews? Your advocating abusing people who voice their opinion or exercise their rights. This kind of mentality is the embodiment of hosing civil rights activists and the nazi movement. Not to be dramatic, but seriously, this is the oldtimely intolerance mentality. "If you piss me off I'm gonna kick your @$$!"

Even if you don't personally advocate attacking these people, telling them to stay quiet and not exercise their rights because of the potential backlash goes against every great movement of protest. People acted against Martin Luther King and Jesus Christ, does that mean they should have just kept to themselves and not rocked the boat?

We agree that flag burning is a legal right. It doesn't hurt anyone, so acting against someone who burns the flag wouldn't be self-defense, realistically. So, how can it be moral in any way to attack a person who burns the flag? We agree that it is legally ok, and exercising your own rights without hurting others is a moral action. Attacking those who exercise their rights is certainly not moral. We shouldn't restrict people's rights in the name of avoiding a disturbance.
Mangani

Con

"Your argument is that flag burning is legal, but offensive."

-I never stated nor implied any position against the legality of flag burning.

"So, I should be prepared to be assaulted if I exercise my right to free speech."

-Yes, if the "free speech" you are exercising is violent in nature like flag burning is.

"How can you advocate assaulting someone for exercising their rights?"

-Everyone has the right to free travel within the US, but that right is regulated. The right to free speech is also regulated (you can't curse on TV, right?). If the government doesn't regulate symbolic acts of violence that may provoke actual physical violence, someone who is offended may. If you cannot handle that responsibility, you have no business burning a flag.

"Would you beat the hell out of Rosa Parks if that was supposed to be your bus seat?"

-Don't be ridiculous. Not only wasn't it Rosa Parks's legal right to sit in that seat, her act was non-violent. The law preventing her from sitting down did not protect anyone, and her manifested opposition to that law did not cause anyone any harm physically, emotionally, or morally. She didn't offend anyone's culture, nor did she offend anyone's creed, moral code, religion, nation, or anything that flag burning can offend.

"Would you gas protesters if you didn't like their message?"

-Is gasing protesters a normal act of street violence? Does your regular Joe who disagrees with protesters carry CS? No. But if I saw a bunch of KKK members marching through South Philadelphia I would expect to later see their heads on stakes downtown in the lawn just feet from the Liberty Bell. The difference? Protesters aren't necessarily intentionally offending anyone. Just the presence of the KKK incites violence, emotional hurt, anger, etc. A peaceful protest does not bring forth these emotions, but flag burning does. Otherwise why would you argue it is effective enough to bring about change???

"What if you didn't like Jews?"

-Are Jews or the presence of Jews an act of violence? I think you are attempting to tap the emotional sympathies of the reader as an ad-hominem attack, but these arguments are not attacking my premise. Jews are not burning flags. Why would you even bring that up???

"Your advocating abusing people who voice their opinion or exercise their rights."

-And? Is that what this debate is about? Don Imus was exercising his rights when he called the Rutgers female basketball team "nappy headed hos" and "jigaboos", but half black people in America wanted to kick his butt for it. That is the very reason why free speech is regulated- people also have the right to quiet enjoyment of their homes, and flag burning can be an encroachment on that quiet enjoyment.

"This kind of mentality is the embodiment of hosing civil rights activists and the Nazi movement. Not to be dramatic, but seriously, this is the oldtimely intolerance mentality. "If you piss me off I'm gonna kick your @$$!""

-Again, and ad-hominem attack. After 9/11 if we had this debate 90% of Americans would want your butt kicked for burning the American flag. Any other country? They'll kick your butt today, tomorrow, and on 9/11. The GOVERNMENT hosed activists, the Nazi movement was a GOVERNMENT, and YES, you are being VERY dramatic. I am not talking about institutionalized persecution of flag burners- I am saying that if you don't expect a confrontation, don't burn the daggone flag. Don't have your mouth write a check your a$$ can't cash, like your daddy used to tell you. A far cry from invading Europe I'll say...

"Even if you don't personally advocate attacking these people, telling them to stay quiet and not exercise their rights because of the potential backlash goes against every great movement of protest."

-No it doesn't. "Every great movement of protest" wasn't carried out with the intention or result of offending an entire nation, religion, or culture. Flag burning does this INTENTIONALLY.

"People acted against Martin Luther King and Jesus Christ, does that mean they should have just kept to themselves and not rocked the boat?"

-More ad-hominem attacks... Martin Luther King and Jesus Christ did not burn flags. They carried out no acts of violence intended to offend an entire culture, religion, or nation. Not the same thing, buddy.

"We agree that flag burning is a legal right."

-No we don't. We only agree it's legal.

"It doesn't hurt anyone, so acting against someone who burns the flag wouldn't be self-defense, realistically."

-Neither does calling your momma a whore, but most people would get their butts kicked for doing that, right?

"So, how can it be moral in any way to attack a person who burns the flag?"

-Who said it was moral? Is it moral for a father to murder his child's murderer? Noooo... but it is understandable and he probably would get lenience from a judge. I feel there are times when flags are burned, and if the flag burner get's their butt kicked, most likely they deserved it.

"We agree that it is legally ok, and exercising your own rights without hurting others is a moral action."

-We don't agree on that. We agree it is legal, not "legally ok". Exercising your own rights without hurting others is just an action, not a moral or immoral one.

"Attacking those who exercise their rights is certainly not moral."

-How did this become a question of morality? If I burn the flag of the Vatican, is it moral to a Catholic? If I burn the flag of Israel, is it moral to a Jew? If I burn the flag of Iraq- half the Muslim world will want to kill me because I burned the name of Allah! If I burn an Irish flag in Boston... What should I expect? What if I find myself in Chinatown one day and decide to burn the Chinese flag because I am against their Communist government? Should I not get my butt kicked by a bunch of pissed off Chinamen? Only a person with no loyalty to any flag of any kind can agree with your arguments, but reality is that it is not the decision of the person burning the flag whether or not the act is moral, and it is not your choice whether or not someone wants to kick your butt for it, but it is definitely your choice, responsibility, and RIGHT to research what you are doing and know what to expect. Flag burning is an act of violence and WILL incite a violent reaction. The morality of that violent reaction is not relevant.

"We shouldn't restrict people's rights in the name of avoiding a disturbance."

-So you agree flag burning in the very least is intended to cause a disturbance? That goes back to my right to quiet enjoyment. You have every right in the world to listen to your radio, but when you listen to it at midnight in front of my house you are encroaching on my right to quiet enjoyment. You are not breaking any "moral" law, you are exercising a right to free speech, that at time of day unfortunately for you is regulated. Should we unregulate that and let people park in front of other people's houses and blast the radio? No, we must be tactful with our legal decisions, as well as with our choices of protests. Flag burning is an act of violence, and may incite a violent reaction.
Debate Round No. 3
wingnut2280

Pro

wingnut2280 forfeited this round.
Mangani

Con

Since I didn't get a proper response from my opponent, I will instead respond to the comment left by an observer who thinks he can argue better than wingnut:

"oh my god, everybody against flag burning put so much emotion into debates and always talk about why you shouldn't burn the flag instead of why it should be illegal. It's annoying."

-First off, I didn't put "emotion" into this debate. I did argue from my point of view, and that is what one is supposed to do in a debate, unless you have some other skewed suggestion. Furthermore, it is not and has never been my position that flag burning should be illegal, so why would I argue that point?

I don't see how you are annoyed by this- it is the format of every debate. There is one person arguing one point, and one person arguing the opposite. Is that difficult to understand? So, you disagree... so??? Burn away, buddy! I have made no attempt or comment that would stop anyone from burning flags. All I have stated is that FLAG BURNING IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE, AND ONE SHOULD EXPECT A VIOLENT REACTION.
Debate Round No. 4
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by 1NCP 8 years ago
1NCP
"it is unconstitutional to ban it" That statement is total nonsense, it is not unconstitutional to ban flag burning and it is not a civil liberty the very act of burning the symbol of our nation is UNCIVIL and offensive to the majority of Americans just as a couple having sexual intercourse in public. There is such a thing as too much freedom being a bad thing and the abuse of freedom being a bad thing. There are other legitimate ways of expressing or demonstrating one's displeasure with the government without resorting to burning the United States flag.
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
Daxitarian, lighting fireworks on the 4th of July is a symbolic representation of the weapons fired, specifically artillery, during the American Revolution. A clear symbolic representation of violence, though not the same kind I am referring to.

I provided no argument as to why flag burning is inherently violent because this was not disputed by my opponent. I responded to the arguments he posed, and it would have been pretty retarded of me to argue against points he did not make or answer questions he did not ask and are not pertinant to the overall debate BECAUSE he did not ask.
Posted by Daxitarian 8 years ago
Daxitarian
"A flag is a symbol, and flag burning is not an act of free speech, rather a symbolic expression of violence."

All speech is symbolic. These letters of text you are reading right now are symbols. Linguistically, what your re-wording of "speech" is equal to is if I said that I am not drinking a glass of water right now, but rather a glass of dihydrogen monoxide.

Furthermore, you provided no argument on why flag burning is inherently violent. Fire does not equal violence. Lighting fireworks on the fourth of July is not considered violent.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
Yeah, burning cloth and paint... not violent.

Duh.
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
Tatarize, in your opinion the flag of YOUR country is so disgraced that you would not advocate vigilanteism in defense of the flag from burning. Because I can argue from the point of view of someone who has pride in his flag, I can see and in some cases would advocate vigilanteism in defense of a flag from burning. I would burn a flag myself if I knew it would instill a violent reaction from a group I may perceive as adversarial, and that is the only context in which flag burning should be viewed- as an adversarial action.

I have never said violence doesn't accomplish change, rather that flag burning is violent. If you are burning a flag in order to instill violence, as an instigation for further violence, then yes I would agree with flag burning IN THAT CASE, but if your position isn't worth a physical altercation then it's not worth burning a flag!
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
Your position is that people should be attacked for burning a flag, and the attackers put in prison? Also, due to free speech flag burners aren't going to get arrested for arson unless they are clearly stupid (burning a flag near flammable stuff).

Burning flags accomplishes something truly impressive. Whatever your cause, whoever supports it, and regardless of how much the public supports it... one burnt flag and you're the anathema of society. This more than any other reason is why nobody burns flags as a protest and nobody's seen a case in decades.

Your jingoistic macho bullsh!t is uncalled for, stupid, unnecessary, and not really in defense of anything. The flag is a damned symbol. If people care to express that they disagree with what that symbol stands for... well, okay.

Let me note that I am better with my positions than you are with yours. There are sometimes differences of opinion here and there, but your positions are markedly inferior to mine. It's rare that I should say such a thing, but rarer yet to encounter somebody advocating vigilante justice in response to free speech.
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
My position is not that assault is legal either. Look, you can sit here and sling mud at me for believing that people should get their butt kicked for burning a flag, but you're no better with your positions against mine. If I go to jail for defending my flag- so be it. I would rather go to jail for defending something I believe in meaningfully, rather than for public arson- which is illegal in some cases. I would rather go to jail for the hundreds of illegal acts I have committed in the name of protest, rather than spend a minute in jail for burning a flag which accomplishes absolutely nothing. Flag burners are cowards who have no other way of communicating their violent emotions other than by whining and burning a flag that isn't going to do anything other than piss a few people off.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
Well any government worth it's salt would arrest you for assault and put you in prison.
Posted by Mangani 8 years ago
Mangani
My position is not that the government should do anything about, Tatarize, as you are implying. I am against flag burning because if someone burned MY flag they would definitely have problems. I could give a damn how the government feels about it.
Posted by Tatarize 8 years ago
Tatarize
Sure you have free speech, but if you try to use it you'll get a government jack-boot on your throat. Pfft.
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