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Why I burn the flag

Flag-waving fools are destroying humanity.
This current illegal 'war' (why don't we declare war anymore? too chicken?) is costing me, you, and everyone else in our society big-time. What comes around goes around. It's infuriating and saddening, of course, but it can also be rich with nearly-amusing irony.

The case of the Care and Treatment of the Flag of the United States of America is one such irony that is on my mind today... see, I drove over the Stars and Stripes on my way home from work. Yep, fallen of the vehicle of some great Patriot or another. There was too much traffic for me to go back and get it - downright dangerous duty that - so I could burn the damned thing. Too bad.

Now personally, I could give a fuck about any flag, including that of the country I happen to have been born in. Just so you know where I'm coming from. But once a U.S. flag touches the ground, the thing is supposed to be burned. I've burned several personally, as a Boy Scout.

Joe Average citizen of the United States has been whipped into such a rabid, frothing, flag waving fervor that newspapers across the land are full of letters accusing any and all of treason. When flags have been burned in protest, the nationalistic frenzy reaches crescendo and all manner of venom and invective are hurled at the protesters.

Yes, this is the bitter-sweet irony. Flag burning is completely legal and is, indeed, a time-honored (some would say old and tired) method of protest. Meanwhile, the way the flag is being treated by Joe Average is actually completely illegal!

A few of many juicy tidbits, dig it:

US Code Title 36, section 176(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

What?! Never? Not even my fancy sweater from Nordies? My tie? Oh my.

The right wing shock jocks on AM radio and the Freepers have been flipping out about the San Francisco cops - a bunch of 'em started a little posse that wore U.S. flag bandanas under their riot helmets, and they were ordered not to wear them. 'How could they be so unAmerican at a time like this?' Umm, moron - it's illegal to wear the freaking flag. The thing is supposed to always fly free and all. Isn't the supposed to be the point?

US Code Title 36, section 176(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

Like hanging off the antenna of my pickup?

US Code Title 36, section 176(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever

Quick, call CNN, FOX, and MSNBC! Do it, or you're not patriotic! Do you respect the flag or not, damnit?

Your mission, patriotic flag-loving American, is to always carry a printout of USC Title 36 sections 173-178, with the relevant passages highlighted, and stop the flag abuse! Yes that includes rolling your flag onto its pole at the end of the day - fold it properly! Meanwhile, shut the hell up about flag burning.

One last tidbit, including an apt description of the present time:

176(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning
great way to express anger 08.Apr.2003 22:11

pc nyc


not as effective as talking to people for making a positive impression.

Symbolism is completely lost on the people we need to convince.

Arm yourself with the facts, and speak in terms people can undersand

check it:

this guy makes sense:


Zig Ziglar says, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". What he meant was how much you care about them and theirs.

On either end or the war issue we have 30% well-defined and stratified groups of people. That leaves 40% in the middle. The winner will be the group most able to attract the 40% in the middle. I have listened to my girlfriend speak to people about anti-war sentiment and seen her as very effective in convincing undecided people how this war is dangerous and wrong. She is very quiet, soft-spoken, but determined and heartfelt in her discussions. I decided to put my 10 years direct sales experience to work and develop ideas people can use. Here is what I see as an effective plan to persuade the middle 40% of folks.

First understand what they feel:
1. Scared
2. Lonely
3. Assaulted by groups from both sides.
4. Inclined to trust the government in the absence of good reason otherwise
5. Wanting things to be okay again
6. They are generally not into causes, usually they are more motivated by family

Things you must understand about the process and how they see you:
1. This will not be a one call close
2. Despite what you might think they do not see us as reasonable, they see us as marginalized anti-establishment radicals
3. They do not want emotional appeals, but information and reason
4. They want to feel they are making a good decision
5. They don't want to be scared into a decision, they are already scared enough

How to help these people understand us and our belief:
1. Speak softly and genuinely
2. Speak slowly
3. Invite them to talk about how they feel and to ask questions
4. Do not overload them with facts. One well discussed fact is better that a laundry list of anti-war rhetoric
5. Set yourself up as a resource. Give them this website and others that have the anti-war message then tell them to make up their own mind
6. Never, EVER, demonize the other side or call names. Do not ridicule the pro-war people. They may have family or friends that are pro-war that you may be insulting without knowing it. Allow your contact to arrive at their own conclusions
7. Explain that demonstrators are anti-war people editorializing their belief, but that they were thoughtful in arriving at that belief. Explain that their belief is based on a deeply rooted religious or moral conviction. Make sure to point out how these are everyday people just like them. Show pictures of grandmas, preachers, and young couples with children at rallies.
8. Explain Cointelpro and other covert government ops, not in a sinister or accusatory fashion, simply in the spirit of fact-sharing
9. Using statements such as, "These are my concerns about that" allow you to express your beliefs in a non-threatening manner. Another good one is, "We always seem to find out ten years down the road these wars were never about what they said they were about". That one is powerful.
10. Know when to back off or change the subject. Once they become uncomfortable they will not accept any new ideas.

This movement needs people like me that will jump up and down and wave their arms and yell and scream about injustice. We are the heart, soul, and energy that drives this movement. But make no mistake, that middle 40% of the people are the backbone. We need them to win. People like me can shift gears and do a decent job with this approach, but I find women and gentle, soft-spoken men seem to be naturally more effective. But with practice everyone can do a creditable job of attracting the middle people.

We need them to win. Once convinced they will sway the opinion of many more. I made my living selling to these types of people, and they were always my best customers and best source of new business. Let's start on the task now.


Bravo 08.Apr.2003 22:30

NE Portland

It is rare (and wonderful) to find both rationality and humor addressed to a subject that is usually characterized by emotional hysteria.

Not so sure about the sales thing 08.Apr.2003 22:59

Ed Harley

Anger and its expression are quite legitimate, especially considering the monumental idiocy we are faced with every day in the media, the government, and our fellow citizens.

Sales and marketing analogies are creepy. I see your point, but frankly, the poor, frightened middle classes are going to have to take responsibility for understanding the society they live in and create. I don't know if one-on-one counseling sessions with activists is going to do the trick.

Plenty of resources exist for people who wish to know the truth. Those who prefer to remain ignorant, passive, and silent will do just that, and eventually wither away in front of Fox News, with Cheeto crumbs littering the floor around them.

dunno ed 08.Apr.2003 23:34


whats the alternative? armed insurrection and post-war training camps? (kidding)

I believe we should always use a variety of tactics to enlighten people. Consider we've got every serious 'radical' (I hate that term) in our camp already, and the majority of fence-sitters will only respond to rational voices.

Notice how after months of rallies we've come to a point where we're preaching to the choir. My view is massive CD is the next step for the movement *as long as* it's done in tandem with projecting a clear message of purpose.

Reaching out to people on a personal level in the way that person suggests is essential for the movement.

Look at how the media distorts our message. We are just entertainment to them, and need to make a spectacle to get noticed.

*We* must reach out to people on a personal level.. because we can't rely on anyone else.

propaganda 09.Apr.2003 00:08


How does everyone feel about propaganda? We use it already, but if we were too embrace it and make a concentrated effort at propaganda, I feel it would be an overwhelming success. It's using the tools of the government against itself. Regardless of how we feel about the moral issue in using propaganda, doesn't the end justify the means?

re: propaganda 09.Apr.2003 02:23


I would encourage anyone who is interested to look into propaganda (even if you don't plan to use it, it is nice to learn about it so you can defend against it). See the following site, for one:  http://propagandacritic.com/.

However, at this point I don't think that our use of propaganda would be very effective (and for primarily tactical, not moral reasons). It seems like the entities which use propaganda most effectively are the entities which have the most resources, and I think that has always been the case. The two entities that come to mind, with massive resources for creating and distributing propaganda, are governments and large corporations. These are also the entities which have built up the traditional systems of delivery (powerful mass media by corporations + the idea of "government officials" who most people trust), and control those systems. If one were to start using propaganda to a large scale (to the point where it starts to work), which would someone have to be done by bypassing the mass media ( using Indymedia and other delivery systems), it seems that two things would happen:

1) Well, peoples' "natural defenses" would kick in to help them ignore any message contrary to the "norm/official story" which comes from the mass media. Realize that people are very willing to disbelieve what they do not like or do not want to believe, and that tendency will only be increased if people realize/are told they are being subjected to "propaganda".

2) The mass media (the government and corporations who are so fond of it) would go into defensive mode, using the full force of there powers of propaganda to discredit and otherwise turn people against the anti-war propaganda (heck, we've already seen this... "support our troops", anyone?).

Basically, I don't see how we could win a "propagana war" against the masters of propaganda (their propaganda is something people are used to, anything different from it would be strikingly obvious and rejected), unless something were done so they could not go on the defensive. We could always try doing what the Right did - just take over the media. (But that is long and time consuming; if democracy depends on it, it would be worth it though.)

wow, hope that wasn't to long winded. peace.

flagburning is a great idea 09.Apr.2003 02:57


flag-wavers are destroying the US constitution and american values. Like the sheep in Animal farm: they say what their masters tell them.

I Saw A Man On TV Humping Saddam's Portrait 09.Apr.2003 05:21


"Try burning the flag of Iraq in Baghdad and you would be publically beheaded and gutted..."

Not this morning, thank god.

Obvious to me 09.Apr.2003 08:28


Anyone would wave a flag if they were on the wrong side of a gun barrel. I think Afghans cheered the Taliban when they took control.

if you think flag burning is wrong...... 09.Apr.2003 11:24

fix the plunger

if you think flag burning is wrong, then your american ideals are completely out of wack.

just take a look in ney york times today they have an article about how utah senator hatch wants to make the patriot act perminent.

then you have an article talking about all the pork that was loaded onto the $80 billion war bill. it includes $110 million for a research station in the south pole.

even john "doesnt know a bad war even if he was a POW in vietnam" mccain called the bullshit.

what our government is doing should piss people off.

propaganda revisted 09.Apr.2003 15:37


thanks for the link, and logis, we should continue this discussion later...

The war against apathy 09.Apr.2003 17:28

Skwirl ominous_squirrel@hotmail.com

Wow. There's a lot of good discussion in this thread. I especially think pc nyc's comment is the type of thing that deserves a wider audience. logis expressed a lot of the things I've been thinking about lately.

Average people expect grassroots activists to display their messages as smoothly and deliberately as professional propagandists. It's really disheartening to listen to all the nitpicking that goes on about the activist community. People need to realize that we're not perfect, we're not trained salesmen or politicians and we're not getting paid for this. We're regular people and we should be expected, allowed and encouraged to make mistakes.

My major obstacle with conversing with the 40 percent fence-sitters is because I see a part of myself in them and I hate myself for it. I'm in a daily battle against my own apathy and depression. At the end of the day, we're all imperfect, irrational human beings and we need to accept that about ourselves and our peers. We should be allowed to be angry. We should be allowed to cry. We should even be allowed to dance, laugh and smile as injustice and death reign absolute.

The real question isn't "how do we convince the undecided 40% to support us." The real question is, "how do we heal them? How do we heal ourselves?"

Look Up, America 10.Apr.2003 01:45


I once quit a job with an advertising firm because they were developing a script that had the Coca-Cola logo morphing into the American flag while a choir sang "Look Up, America"! I didn't realize it was illegal. But it ought to be!

I MADE pdf of the flag code 10.Apr.2003 11:12

patriot girl mc_laughter@yahoo.com

I made a pdf of the flag code and highlighted the VITAL information.

ps I love the word fervor
I MADE pdf of the flag code
I MADE pdf of the flag code