The Instigator
Yraelz
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points
The Contender
slammin
Pro (for)
Losing
19 Points

Flag burning should be illegal.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/9/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,420 times Debate No: 3145
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (11)

 

Yraelz

Con

I am contending this resolution. I feel that flag burning should be legal. I am interested to see what anyone will argue against this.
slammin

Pro

I do not think that flag burning should be legal.

This is because burning a flag is disrespectful towards a country. Many people protest, and say we have freedom of speech.

"The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, not expression, and, whereas all speech may be an expression of a sort, not all expression is speech, and there is good reason why the framers of the First Amendment protected the one and not the other."
--Walter Berns, Making Patriots, p. 139

The first amendment protects freedom of SPEECH. It clearly says not all expression is speech. Flag burning is an expression.

Burning the flag is a sign of disrespect. Period. It is unecessary and there are much better ways to protest without showing disrespect to this country.
Debate Round No. 1
Yraelz

Con

Alright, I'll throw my normal ideas at flag burning into this debate and see how my opponent responds.

Reasons for flag burning:

Reasons for flag burning to be legal.

1. The constitution. You can dislike flag burning all you want, you can call it Un-American or anti-patriotic all you want, but at the point when you tell someone that they can't burn a flag you are the Un-American one. Even if I hated flag burning to its very core I would still have to support the right to burn a flag. This country was founded on the principles of freedom of expression. You being a conservative advocate for less government control, to advocate government control on this issue is to go against the principles of conservativeness. I sight the 1st amendment as the foundation of this point. My opponent on the other hand tries to discredit the 1st amendment by saying that speech and expression are two different things. This is not true, the precedent has been set countless times by the supreme court. Under by opponents theory people who could not talk would have no rights.

However even if one did not want to believe this the 1st amendment also protects the right to assemble. Flag burning often happens in groups.

2. It is a more preferable form of protest than most. Where as our politicians are bombarded with angry letters from citizens daily, our soldier are slandered by the news, our president is hated across the world; flag burning doesn't actually do anything except for burn a piece of cloth. It has no harmful effects on anyone except possibly the burner if they are not careful. This makes it much more preferable than forms of protest such as crime, true arson, parades (potentially clogging traffic), and many others. Even civil disobedience has draw backs that flag burning will never have.

3. It fuels the American economy. Who produces the flags? We do. Let them burn our flags all they want. To burn, they have to buy. If someone is stupid enough to burn an American flag let them do it.

4. Takes power from our enemies. Look at all the people America despises that burn our flags. You've all seen it on T.V, Iraqi's parading the streets burning American flags. Wouldn't be nearly so fearsome if American protesters were already burning their own flags would it? When the government puts a stance on flag burning such as, "We don't care, burn our flags" it takes power from the act of flag burning. Everyone remember the story of Brer Rabbit? "No don't throw me into the briar patch!" And of course he was thrown in because the bear thought it would hurt him. But it was all a trick, Brer Rabbit wasn't hurt at all. Same thing in this situation, we trick everyone else into thinking that we don't care at all and they'll stop doing it. Americans burning the flag steals the thunder from others burning the flag.

Finally. Examine my opponents final statement,

"Burning the flag is a sign of disrespect. Period. It is unecessary and there are much better ways to protest without showing disrespect to this country."

Yeah, this is probably true, however this does not mean that it should be illegal by any stretch of the imagination. Limit government control, not expand.
slammin

Pro

"but at the point when you tell someone that they can't burn a flag you are the Un-American one. "

No. We have laws in this country that limit people from doing things that are considered, bad, harmful, unnecessary, rude, etc. Are you calling us all "Un-American" because we create laws? We are standing up for out country. Is it alright for people to shout "fire" in a crowded place? Is telling them to not do that "Un-American"?

"This country was founded on the principles of freedom of expression."

So, going on a shooting rampage due to hate is an expression. Are you saying that we should have the right to express ourselves by committing harmful hate crimes? It is the same logic, because they are both "expressions."

"You being a conservative advocate for less government control, to advocate government control on this issue is to go against the principles of conservativeness."

Should my personal beliefs be a part of this? Laws help to make our country stronger, safer, and a great place to live/be. If you live here, you should show pride and appreciation for the USA.

"I sight the 1st amendment as the foundation of this point. My opponent on the other hand tries to discredit the 1st amendment by saying that speech and expression are two different things. This is not true, the precedent has been set countless times by the supreme court. Under by opponents theory people who could not talk would have no rights. "

Speech and expression ARE two different things, so this totally disproves you point.

Here is the first amendment.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

It gives us specific rights. It does not state that we have the right of expression. It also states that we can peacefully assemble and to petition. Flag burning is not considered "peaceful" because it can lead to disruption and then create riots.

"America has tolerated the desecration of its flag for over a decade. The American flag is a representation of its people and its government. It embodies the struggle of 50 states towards the republic it now upholds. Therefore it is questionable, why one would dare to desecrate the American flag and all that it stands for. "

Source: http://media.www.dailycampus.com...

This was taken from a previous debate.

"The flag of the United States of America has represented that nation, and all of its ideals, since its founding well over two hundred years ago. Burning something is the ultimate form of desecration. Therefore, to burn the flag is to desecrate the symbol of America and its ideals. This brings me to the contradiction inherent in the action: Burning the flag means spitting on the very principles that make your ability to do so even a remotely debatable topic. There's nothing wrong with criticizing your country, its leaders, or where they're taking the country; in fact, that's vital to the successful continuation of America. Burning the flag, however, does not fit anywhere into that proper dialogue. It should not, therefore, be allowed."

http://www.debate.org...

This is exactly my point.

"However even if one did not want to believe this the 1st amendment also protects the right to assemble. Flag burning often happens in groups. "

It clearly states that you can assemble peacefully.

"It is a more preferable form of protest than most. Where as our politicians are bombarded with angry letters from citizens daily, our soldier are slandered by the news, our president is hated across the world; flag burning doesn't actually do anything except for burn a piece of cloth. It has no harmful effects on anyone except possibly the burner if they are not careful. This makes it much more preferable than forms of protest such as crime, true arson, parades (potentially clogging traffic), and many others. Even civil disobedience has draw backs that flag burning will never have."

No it is not! It disrespects our country and its past. It just shows that you are angry or annoyed. Actually, I would much rather receive angry letters than seeing huge angry mobs of people marching down the street burning our country's symbol. What "draw backs" does civil disobedience has? It gets the point across to people what you are mad about. Also, if you are mad about something like a certain law, wouldn't it be better to protest that specific law rather than protesting our country?

"It fuels the American economy. Who produces the flags? We do. Let them burn our flags all they want. To burn, they have to buy. If someone is stupid enough to burn an American flag let them do it."

Not all flags are made in the US. Haven't you seen the tiny flags that they hand out at parades? They have those little gold stickers that say, "Made in China." Do we really want to profit from the hate acts of others?

"Takes power from our enemies."

They will still continue to burn the flags either way. Should we be more concerned about the "power" (if you would even call it that) of our enemies rather than the pride of our own country?

Thanks and I await your rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 2
Yraelz

Con

Alright, I should probably begin my final round by rephrasing a previous point. Rephrase:

"This country was created on the idea of freedom of expressions providing those expressions do not violate another's rights."

Secondly I would like to bring up a quick re-evaluation of the resolution, that being:

"Flag burning should be illegal."

With these two things in mind I will now offer my final rebuttal.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

My opponent begins her second round with the statement,

"We have laws in this country that limit people from doing things that are considered, bad, harmful, unnecessary, rude, etc."

and I can only find myself in full agreeance with this statement. Our country does make many things illegal this however does not offer a reason why flag burning should be illegal. If we are going to take this issue on precedent then we must see that flag burning has not been illegal up to this point.

Also on this issue my opponent relates flag burning to shouting "fire" in a movie theater. While they both do involve incendiary concepts, burning a flag does not actually force an effect such as that forced by shouting "fire". Shouting fire immediately puts everyone in the theater in a feeling of their life being at risk. This in the past has lead to people being trampled in the mad scramble out of the building. Being trampled is an infringement of American rights. Flag burning on the other hand does not lead to people being trampled or rights being violated at all. More on this later.

From here my opponent goes on to debunk my freedom of expression argument by equating a shooting rampage with flag burning. She would have a meritable point if both of them lead to people dieing however once again a shooting rampage is the only one of these two that actually leads directly to rights being violated. Flag burning does not cause deaths, though the newspaper article, "Man flag burned to death!", would be amusing.

Next we have the issue revolving around freedom of expression being a guaranteed right or not. My opponent seems to be under the impression that it is not, and on a literal basis my opponent would probably be correct in her impression. However our country has three primary branches, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. These three branches were formed with checks and balances that disallow any one branch from taking all the power. One of these checks happens to be the judicial branches ability to interrupt laws set forth by the legislative branch. The judicial branch can go so far as to call laws unconstitutional thereby making them void. The judicial branch also has the ability to interrupt the constitution and has often been asked to do so. Thus the judicial branch has layed a very broad interpretation of the 1st amendment which does cover most cases of freedom of expression.

"The word speech in the First Amendment has been extended to a generous sense of "expression" -- verbal, non-verbal, visual, symbolic. The artistic work supported by the NEA includes a variety of types of expression enjoying this broad protection." - http://www.csulb.edu...

This is however not to say that all expression has been protected, as I stated above, acts that go against others rights are not,

"Various exceptions to free speech have been recognized in American law, including obscenity, defamation, breach of the peace, incitement to crime, "fighting words," and sedition." - http://www.csulb.edu...

This ties in to my next point which rebuttals the rest of my opponents flag burning argument. Flag burning is an expression which can be used to show aggravation, or dislike of current government policies, or emphasis. It however, in itself cannot be used for any of the above things. Let me give specific examples.

Obscenity: A man holds up a flag and burns it over his head while not saying anything. This quite obviously does not violate obscenity in any way.

Defamation: A man holds up a flag and burns it over his head while not saying anything. This does not fall under the definition of defamation in anyway as it cannot be seen as an attack on any one person.

Breach of the peace: A man holds up a flag and burns it over his head while not saying anything. Once again the act in itself does not do anything, the man is making no attack on any people in order to disturb the peace. One can argue that people might attack the man but this is obviously their wrong and not his.

Incitement of crime: Nope, definitely doesn't do that. If the man was yelling, "Kill the president, then sure" but up until that point it does nothing.

"Fighting words": No words involved.

Sedition: Being defined as an incitement of rebellion. This also does not work as the person burning the flag may not be advocating rebellion at all.

My point it this. Flag burning in itself does absolutely nothing. It can be used to show that one is angry with the status quo but in itself does not violate anyones rights in anyway. My opponent says,

"There's nothing wrong with criticizing your country, its leaders, or where they're taking the country; in fact, that's vital to the successful continuation of America. Burning the flag, however, does not fit anywhere into that proper dialogue."

However flag burning can be used to emphasize all of these things. Thus I would label it to be a tool of emphasis. It can also be used to emphasize violent revolt, acts of sedition, or even incitements to crime, but this is not the fault of the flag burning. It is rather, the fault of the people who are burning the flag. Anything can be used to emphasize a point, this does not make them illegal. It is at the point where someone actually invades another's rights that an act is illegal. Flag burning does not have the ability to invade another's rights.

Thus I have reaffirmed my 1st point.

My second point that it was preferable to other types of protest. My opponent counters by saying that burning something is the ultimate form of desecration. This is simply not true, look to the fact that a common practice on someones death is to burn them. My opponent drops the fact that flag burning is preferable to parades, true arson, or crime. She however does argue civil disobedience for a little bit. So here is a great examples of civil disobedience that is not preferable to flag burning: http://images.google.com...

This is of course in a different country, but still far less preferable.

Thus I reaffirm my second point.

My third point was economics, my opponent simply points out that not all flags are made in America. This is true, thus I simply extend my point to fueling economies of other countries also. Yay

My fourth point about taking the fire from our enemies went unrefuted. My opponent simply stated that we should be more concerned with our own pride. Flag burning does not take away pride, if that was so, then all protest would be un-prideful.

Finally I would like to remind the voters that we are talking about flag burning in itself here, and not the people who are burning flags. I agree that the person running through the street shooting others while burning a flag is bad. But it is the person who is shooting in the wrong and not the flag burning.
slammin

Pro

slammin forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by SweetBags 8 years ago
SweetBags
rawrit, that was one of my first critiques, i've made it a point to be constructive after i had my first debate here.
Posted by rawritsmichelle 8 years ago
rawritsmichelle
Honestly, nobody really cares about your opinion, sweetbags. You're one vote, and even if you want to post what people did wrong, you could at least point out some of the good things. That wasn't constructive criticism in the least.
Posted by chevy10294 8 years ago
chevy10294
I'm against flag burning, but I bbeilve it is protected in the constituion
Posted by SweetBags 8 years ago
SweetBags
slammin, we are all debate "critics". we all read the debate, and (in our heads or on paper) critic the round to see who we think won and deserves our vote. i think that voters should be required to leave a reason for their vote, and i leave a reason (critic if i have time) on every debate i judge. i wish more people did the same...
Posted by slammin 8 years ago
slammin
Excuse me? As I have said before, you are not a debate critic. I would suggest that you try to work on your own debating skills instead of criticizing others.
Posted by SweetBags 8 years ago
SweetBags
pro, i commend you on the source cite, however, i beleive (not sure) that the supream court decided that the first amendment does protect the freedom of expression.
con, you make some good points, could use some evidence though.
pro, the freedom of expreesion isnt protecting violent expresion. if the supreme court says that the freedom of expresion is included in the freedom of speech, then it is, end of story.
dont forfit a round, expessially the last one, at least write a sentence.
Posted by Yraelz 8 years ago
Yraelz
Hahaha, hmmm this seems to happen a lot.
Posted by Yraelz 8 years ago
Yraelz
Lol, I've thought about it for a little while and haven't come to any amazing conclusion lately. Trying to decide on a debate topic that would easily lead to shifting advocacies or ground loss. We'll probably just have to start a debate at some point and see what happens.
Posted by Korezaan 8 years ago
Korezaan
Yraelz:

How can you "set up" a theory debate? Theory's used to complain about the other debater. Unless you mean like, you want me to start a debate so you can train calling abuse on absolutely anything..... I don't really understand what you mean o.o
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