The Instigator
Cooperman88
Pro (for)
Losing
9 Points
The Contender
pmagyar
Con (against)
Winning
12 Points

I don't really know quite yet.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/3/2008 Category: Education
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 984 times Debate No: 3884
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (7)

 

Cooperman88

Pro

I am currently in the mood for a good debate. But my dilemma is that I don't know what to debate about. So if you disagree with me on an issue in my profile, then please argue with me about it. I would like this debate to be on one of those issues, so please limit yourself to that issue. I will make the first argument, so if my opponent would just tell me the resolution, I will be happy to make my opening arguments. Thank you, and good luck.
pmagyar

Con

Resolved: Burning the US flag in protest should be illegal for US citizens.

I phrased it negatively to avoid confusion for those voting, as your name falls under the Pro side at the top of the page, but otherwise that is how it is phrased as a profile question.

My opponent may go first, that way we both have an equal number of rounds.

As you know your stance it should be clear, but to make it clear for anyone else PRO supports the resolution, and thus is arguing that burning the flag in protest should be illegal. Con, myself, am arguing that burning the flag in protest should be legal.
Debate Round No. 1
Cooperman88

Pro

Thank you very much for this great topic. I will do my best, and I hope to provide you with a good debate. I wish you luck and will begin my argumentation.

Seeing as the resolution says should, I believe we should be debating whether or not it is morally right or wrong. Should implies whether or not something is good or bad, it implies an ought. So we are not debating whether or not it is legal. We are debating whether or not it should be legal.

I firmly believe that flag burning when used as a demonstration should not be legal because of what the flag stands for. Historically, flags have been seen as a representation of their country. Not just by it being their flag, but also on the battle field. In medieval times, if a country's flag was still being carried, then they were not doing poorly on the battlfield. But if a country's flag had fallen, they were probably losing. In the case of America, this is this is also true. Francis Scott Key, author of the star-spangled banner, tells a story of the flag still waving during a bombardment. When we look at the history, we see that the British told the Americans that all they had to do to stop the bombarding was lower their flag. The Americans chose not to. So the British kept bombarding the colony. There were many direct hits, but the flag never fell. This enraged the British, so the ships were ordered to focus all their fire on the flag. At the end of the bombardment, the flag was still standing. The reason for this...was because every time the flag fell, someone would pick it up and hold it in place. Many people died that die just to hold the flag up. By burning the flag, people are dishonoring those who died to defend it.

Not only that, but we have a moral responsibility to protect the environment on all levels. Burning of the flag releases toxic chemicals from the dye into the atmosphere. So by stopping flag burning, we can stop a little bit of environmental damage.

Thank you for this wonderful debate topic, and I wish you luck. Have a great day.
pmagyar

Con

"Seeing as the resolution says should, I believe we should be debating whether or not it is morally right or wrong. Should implies whether or not something is good or bad, it implies an ought. So we are not debating whether or not it is legal. We are debating whether or not it should be legal."

First, this is a pretty big logical leap, saying should implies ought, and ought implies a moral question, stretches the definition of should far beyond what it means. The American Heritage dictionary defines should as "Used to express obligation or duty" that says nothing about ought or about morality, obligations can come from law or contractual obligations as well, and given as the resolution references legality, the question is not about the morality.

Second, if it is a moral question than to answer that question you have to present a view of morality on which to evaluate whether or not it is moral. Without that, it is impossible to answer the resolution the way you have defined it. Either we do not view it through morality, or you need to present a view of morality that we may argue if that is the right view, and use it to determine if it is moral or not to burn the flag.

However, let's say that it is, than you vote con on the general principle, in a free, democratic society morality is not how we determine the law. There are multiple different views of morality held by the citizenry, but it is not up to the state to decide questions of morality. The state exists as an agent to protect the rights of the individuals it resides over, no more. It violates no rights to burn the flag, thus the state has no reason to make it illegal to do so. If we allow the state to start regulating morality it can only do so by being at least partially totalitarian, controlling far more of individual's lives than a free state.

Opponents Arguments

First, the last issue my opponent brings up is completely irrelevant to the debate. IF there are flags that are toxic to the environment the regulation would be against burning toxic substances, not the flag. Burning the flag would still be completely legal, so long as the flag being burned was made of non-toxic materials, which if such a regulation was passed people would, if they are not already, make flags of non-toxic materials, at least for protest purposes.

My opponents main argument is that the flag stands for a representation of our country. It is true that lowering the flag in a war or conflict indicated surrender, but that in itself is not what the flag really stands for, that is simply how it was used. It may have inspired men, but the same thing can be said of individuals burning the flag in protest, so it's not a unique argument. There is also no explanation of how this makes it immoral, absent that there is no reason to believe it is immoral.

"When we look at the history, we see that the British told the Americans that all they had to do to stop the bombarding was lower their flag. The Americans chose not to."

Yes, because to lower the flag meant to surrender to the British, surrender their freedom. It was not out of respect for the flag that they did not lower it, but because they were not going to surrender, they were fighting for their freedom.

"every time the flag fell, someone would pick it up and hold it in place. Many people died that die just to hold the flag up. By burning the flag, people are dishonoring those who died to defend it."

The individuals fighting were not fighting to defend the flag, they were fighting for what the flag stood for to them, freedom. That is what the flag truly stands for. A symbol of freedom only stands for freedom so long as the people in the country it stands for are actually free. Making it illegal to burn the flag in protest violates that freedom.

Burning the flag in protest is an exercise of the very freedom that those soldiers died to defend. The flag was a way to rally troops to fight and defend freedom, but the flag itself is not freedom, and it should not be extrapolated to being so. If we live in a free society that guarantees freedom of speech and expression, which in theory at least we do, than burning the flag should also be a protected form of speech as well. If it is not, than we do not live in a free society, and the flag symbolizes nothing because freedom does not really exist. If you want to claim that we ought not live in a free society that's fine, and if you do so ill argue why we should in the next round. But if we should live in a free society, than that society should not outlaw a peaceful form of protest.
Debate Round No. 2
Cooperman88

Pro

As far as should goes, I agree with you for the most part. I am sorry I was so unclear as to what I meant. All I was saying is that we are not arguing about what is or isn't legal now. We should be arguing about whether it should or shouldn't be legal. It doesn't only have to be because of morals, but it has to do with ideologies. You can't make the argument, "It should be legal because it is legal." We are arguing about the pros and cons of making it legal or illegal. Therefore the precedent set has nothing to do with it. You can make the arguments that they made when making it illegal, but don't argue that it already is legal. Hopefully that clears things up a bit. It doesn't just have to do with morals. By morals, I meant what I feel is right, and what anyone feels is right. Arguments should come from our logic and how we feel about certain topics. Not what the law tells us is right.

Your argument on the environment are correct. If the flag being burned wasn't harmful to the environment, then by all means, this would not make it a bad thing. But flags are made with dyes and inks that are not good for the environment. By burning the flag, this allows for the dyes to melt and seep into the ground, or get into the smoke and into the air. These are two things that are bad for the environment. But if there was a more ecological way of doing it then this would not make it bad. The fact of the matter is, is that it is harmful, and therefore is bad.

You say that my argument on lowering the flag isn't really what the flag stands for. My argument here is that the flag symbolizes freedom. By lowering that flag or not having the flag flying, this symbolizes the loss or not having freedom. So by not having our flag flying, this shows us that we no longer have our freedom. So because the flag symbolizes freedom, if our flag is burning, then we might assume that we no longer have our freedom. Take the statue of Saddam Hussein as an example. This statue was a representation of the oppression he had on his people. By taking Baghdad and lowering the statue, it was a symbol of the release of the Iraqi people from under his rule. The same goes for the flag. Without it, we have no symbol of freedom. You make the argument that burning the flag is a way to inspire people. I say that burning the flag is a sign of protest. As the resolution says, "burning the flag in protest..." so we agree that people burn the flag in protest. They don't burn it to inspire. So this argument falls. You yourself make a large logical leap here as well. You say that if this one supposed form of speech is banned, then we don't live in a free society at all. Even if ten forms of speech were banned, we still live in a free society because of the overwhelmingly large amounts of freedoms we still have. But in fact we do not live in an entirely free society because we are not allowed to murder without cause and steal from others. So we don't have all freedoms. Some freedoms are restricted in order to help others. I say that burning the flag should fall under one of these because it hurts others. For the people who honor the flag and view it as the symbol of our nation's freedom, this is seen as a hurtful act intended only to cause strife and uproar. Therefore this should be a restricted form of speech. You say that it is a peaceful form of protest, but here I present the argument about history. By burning the flag, you are saying that we should throw off our form of government and are sending a message of mutiny. Just like a flagbearer throwing the flag to the ground symbolizing defeat, so burning our flag symbolizes detest at the nation it represents. This is not peaceful. This is much like a declaration of war. Saying that your country is worthless. So this isn't a peaceful form of speech.
pmagyar

Con

Ok, I will accept that we are not asking if it is currently legal or not, if that is all that you meant by that argument. I wasn't sure if you were going for more with that so I wanted to make sure I responded to it.

"IF there are flags that are toxic to the environment the regulation would be against burning toxic substances, not the flag. Burning the flag would still be completely legal, so long as the flag being burned was made of non-toxic materials, which if such a regulation was passed people would, if they are not already, make flags of non-toxic materials, at least for protest purposes."

This is unresponded to, which means even if its true that burning flags are bad for the environment, that argument still doesn't support the resolution.

Also, my opponent claims it is bad for the environment, without any proof they are, or even that those specific chemicals are actually bad for the environment, absent that this argument is nothing but an assertion.

Moreover, there are numerous other ways to counteract the harm from the chemicals released if its proven they are harmful. For example, making non-toxic flags for protest purposes. "if there was a more ecological way of doing it then this would not make it bad." That's a solution that would make it ecological. Or requiring protesters to also do a certain act that would counteract any negative environmental effect.

Finally, IF there is an effect on the environment it is most likely so minimal that freedom ought to be considered more important.

This debate is not about the environment, nor should it be. This argument to me seems an extremely weak way to attempt to prove the resolution true. I will continue arguing this if you bring it up again, but I would much rather actually debate the issue.

Onto the other argument.

"So by not having our flag flying, this shows us that we no longer have our freedom. So because the flag symbolizes freedom, if our flag is burning, then we might assume that we no longer have our freedom."

If you make that assumption it is a foolish assumption. IN THE PAST, the flag was lowered to show surrender. That is no longer the case, so people will no longer make that assumption. Second, burning the flag in protest is not a military engagement, and has nothing to do with an actual conflict(outside that the protest might be about a military engagement). That also means people will not correlate those two together, outside being foolish and unable to realize the obvious difference in the acts.

"ake the statue of Saddam Hussein as an example. This statue was a representation of the oppression he had on his people. By taking Baghdad and lowering the statue, it was a symbol of the release of the Iraqi people from under his rule. The same goes for the flag. Without it, we have no symbol of freedom."

The flag still exists, not the one burned in protest, but there are many other flags still flying symbolizing freedom. Second, its not the same thing as with the statue, which was destroyed as a symbol to the Iraqi people that they have their freedom restored. Burning the flag in protest is an action that can only exist in a free society, being able to do that is as much a symbol of the freedom of our society than having the flag flying. Freedom is meaningless absent the ability to use it. Third, why do we need every flag to stand for a symbol for freedom? And why is that the only useful symbol that a flag can stand for? Burning the flag in protest can be very symbolic as well, such as in protest of an action done in the name of that flag that those protesting believe goes against what the flag is supposed to stand for.

"They don't burn it to inspire."

What do you think a protest is for? It may not be to inspire them to be patriotic, but the idea would be to inspire people to support their cause and express their opinions of the issue being protested. This is inspirational, and in a more meaningful way be inspiring people to stand up and exercise their freedom.

"we don't have all freedoms. Some freedoms are restricted in order to help others. I say that burning the flag should fall under one of these because it hurts others. For the people who honor the flag and view it as the symbol of our nation's freedom, this is seen as a hurtful act intended only to cause strife and uproar."

It doesn't harm an individuals rights, which is all the government ought to be regulating. And if you allow the government to regulate all actions that could harm someones feelings the government would be an extremely totalitarian entity that would be far from free.

"You say that it is a peaceful form of protest, but here I present the argument about history. By burning the flag, you are saying that we should throw off our form of government and are sending a message of mutiny. Just like a flagbearer throwing the flag to the ground symbolizing defeat, so burning our flag symbolizes detest at the nation it represents. This is not peaceful. This is much like a declaration of war. Saying that your country is worthless. So this isn't a peaceful form of speech."

It is possible that some protests that burn the flag could be intended to encourage violence. The action that is illegal in this situation is insighting people to violence, not burning the flag, which means burning the flag is still legal under this argument. Second, people protesting are usually protesting a specific issue they have with government policy, not the overthrow of our entire government, but the change of one policy. That is not violent, it is an expression of our freedom to protest and express our opinions. Third, even if they do want to overthrow the government, I think you have forgotten how this country was founded, by overthrowing a government the people found oppressive(and compared to the taxes and regulations today our government is more controlling of our lives than the british empire was). Im not suggesting we should overthrow our current government, but we have the rights in the bill of rights to protect us from our government, and if necessary, to fight against it if that government violated our liberty.

I stand by my original argument, that burning the flag does not harm our rights, but is an exercise of those rights, which should be protected in a free society, and not be illegal.
Debate Round No. 3
Cooperman88

Pro

Cooperman88 forfeited this round.
pmagyar

Con

As my opponent did not respond to any of my points in my last speech, there are no reasons remaining why you should vote pro. You vote CON because we live in a free society that promises liberty for all, or at least strives to achieve that as best as possible. Burning the flag in protest should be included as an allowable form of free expression in a free society, and my opponent no longer has any reasons why it should not be allowed.

Thank you, vote CON.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Im_always_right 8 years ago
Im_always_right
Wow, I wish pro made better arguements and didn't forfeit, but since he didn't than I really must vote con.

(I wonder if he'll do the same in my debate with him :P)
Posted by tremendoustie 9 years ago
tremendoustie
Clearly Con takes the day, but I would like to point out and respond to one of Pro's earlier comments. He says, "You yourself make a large logical leap here as well. You say that if this one supposed form of speech is banned, then we don't live in a free society at all. Even if ten forms of speech were banned, we still live in a free society because of the overwhelmingly large amounts of freedoms we still have. But in fact we do not live in an entirely free society because we are not allowed to murder without cause and steal from others. So we don't have all freedoms. Some freedoms are restricted in order to help others."

On the contrary, freedom of speech is very different than a "freedom" to murder. One's rights only extend as far as the next person. So, in a free society, I have freedom to do or say anything that is not an act of violence or theft against my neighbor. The fact that someone can be offended by my action does not make it an act of violence -- indeed, for any action a person could probably be found who finds it offensive. In a free society, ALL freedom is protected. Few would call a society free, where one could say anything one wished but could not critisize the government, for example. How ironic it would be for us to violate the principles of freedom, the principles that the flag should stand for, in order to protect the piece of cloth on which it it printed.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by The_Devils_Advocate 8 years ago
The_Devils_Advocate
Cooperman88pmagyarTied
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Cooperman88pmagyarTied
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