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The W - Current Events & Politics - Why are people so stupid?
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TheBucsFan
TheChiefsFan








Since: 2.1.02

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#1 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.42
I don't care what people think. People are stupid.
-Charles Barkley

Who ever would have thought Charles Barkley would become a master political analyst? He is right, you know; people are stupid. From the shallow personalities that rule the world, to the ignorance people flash towards pointless, self-serving governments, to the lazy attitude that has overcome society, nothing in this world ever really gets accomplished anymore. Worst of all is the fact that nobody seems to mind this.

Society today does not know the meaning of the word sacrifice. Sure, we have some who do, but the predominant image, at least in America, is that of a flag-bearing fool who doesnt know the first thing about his country or what it is supposedly standing for. The notion that people driving around with flags waiving from their cars, dressed in entirely red, white and blue singing God Bless America in any way promotes, betters or improves the country they supposedly love is ridiculous. In high school, spirit week was a much-anticipated time students, featuring such great events as Pajama Day, Western Day and Decade Day. Always good for a laugh was the fact that not only did 2000 students actually think coming to school in pajamas displayed school pride, but that those same 2000 students wouldnt go to a school basketball game to save their life and whined nonstop about how much they hated school until they finally graduated. Patriotism is the same way; if you love your country so much, display it in a meaningful way: look forward to paying your taxes and then some so your beloved government can do its job; join the military; commit to political activity. However, most will not do these things because being a great American is not what is important; what is important is presenting yourself as such. Sacrifice gives way to self-satisfaction.

The real irony, though, lies in the fact that people are supporting a government that does not even stand for the rights this country was supposedly founded on. Take, for example, the ruling of a west coast court last July (I believe) that the pledge of allegiance being said in public schools is unconstitutional. Many people, including President George W. Bush, reacted with outrage. Reasoning behind opposing the decision included such silly arguments as We all have to deal with things we dont like, How can someone be offended by this, or Well thats just the American way. The bottom line, however, is this: our government is not allowed to have an opinion. With the pledge, they endorse a belief (two actually, one with the mention of God and another with the pledge as a whole being a forced patriotic act). Therefore, a blatant bias exists, because our government has an opinion that some of the people it represents disagree with. It really is that simple.

Yet, one thing that continues to be a mystery is why such an elaborate government is needed at all. Anarchy is not the answer, because it cannot truly exist, but does society really need such a complicated governing system for every city, county and state (or why does it even need to be divided into 50 states to begin with?) in the country on top of the federal government? The only reason government exists is to protect the individual rights of citizens: to prevent murder, theft and other invasions of the rights of others. Now it steps over those boundaries in attempts to control the lives of the people under it by telling them when to go to war to fight for a cause they may not agree with, or by tracking purchases they make across the country via credit card records. Government is no longer about the people; rather, it is about certain individuals trying to gain as much power as possible to promote their own personal way of life. In that sense, America is no longer any different from any of the police states they frown so heavily upon.

The thing about control, though, is that it is an illusion. Someone only has as much authority as his constituents grant him. If people actually cared enough that the government was looking out for their interests, the problem could easily be solved. What good is being called the president if nobody listens to a word you say? However, most people lack the motivation, dedication, common sense and dignity to pull off effective ways to combat the government. Things like a widespread boycott or large portions of the country refusing to go to war if a draft is implemented would change things in a hurry. But nobody wants to do this because they really do not mind having their lives controlled or are nave enough to think that because the government thinks the same things they do, that the government is justified in everything it does.

People in general are just too dumb to care what is going on around them, and have no compassion for anyone else. America is no longer about its citizens; it is about its government. Now more than ever is a bad time to have a minority opinion in this country, because nobody has any tolerance for it.

(edited by TheBucsFan on 26.12.02 1039)
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Gavintzu
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Since: 2.1.02
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#2 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
Wow, good post, Bucs. Needed to get lots of stuff off your chest?

I don't think people are "stupid", per se. Noam Chomsky once made a great point about the supposedly stupid citizens who can't run a democracy -- "have you ever heard a sports call in show? Have you heard the arguments and reasoning callers use to defend their positions? Have you heard the obscure and complex statistics they have memorized?"

It's true, I think. Pick anyone at random off the street and they will have an area of expertise, even if it is the history of satanic heavy metal bands or whether the Cowboys should have traded Troy Aikman after the 1999 season. Pretty much every human being has interests, and they pursue those interests whether as a hobby or as a career or as an obsession.

The frustration comes in, I think, when people have "stupid" interests when important ones are staring them right in the face. You mentioned quite a few controversial political decisions (war in Iraq, school prayer, etc.) that should have most people's attention because it affects their whole way of life. But most people just don't care.

How do we raise people's consciousness? How do we make people care about the important things in life instead of whether HHH is ruining the WWE? I don't think we can. People only start caring when things start affecting them personally -- the protests against Vietnam didn't get really big until pretty much everyone in America knew someone who was drafted and sent overseas to fight.


    People in general are just too dumb to care what is going on around them, and have no compassion for anyone else. America is no longer about its citizens; it is about its government. Now more than ever is a bad time to have a minority opinion in this country, because nobody has any tolerance for it.

At the risk of sounding defeatist, this situation is not new. It has always been this way. People in general have pretty much always let the rich and powerful run their countries, and the rich and powerful have always run them for even more riches and power. Human nature, I'm afraid.






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calvinh0560
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Since: 3.1.02
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#3 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
You know BucsFan that was a good post. I disagree with 90% of what you say but that still was a well said post that show how deeply you care about this.

From the shallow personalities that rule the world, to the ignorance people flash towards pointless, self-serving governments, to the lazy attitude that has overcome society, nothing in this world ever really gets accomplished anymore.

I don't see how you can say that. The total knowledge of the world is doubling every 10-20 years. We are learning how to build cleaner engines, driving in safer cars, finding ways to make us live longer, building an international space station. Things are getting accomplished.

Society today does not know the meaning of the word sacrifice. Sure, we have some who do, but the predominant image, at least in America, is that of a flag-bearing fool who doesnt know the first thing about his country or what it is supposedly standing for.

I am sorry but this country stands for building a better life for yourself. And I don't see why you have to "look forward to paying your taxes" to be patriotic. As long as you do pay taxes (which most people do) you yourself are doing your part for this country. Our government right now (and I dont think they will have a draft anytime soon) only requires you to pay for the military, not join it. That is one of the reason why our arm forces are the best in the world. Everyone in it join on their own free will.

Take, for example, the ruling of a west coast court last July (I believe) that the pledge of allegiance being said in public schools is unconstitutional.
And the same court overruled itself saying that the pledge was constitutional

Government is no longer about the people
The Government is always about the people and always will be about the people as long as the people are electing the government. If you dont like what your leaders are doing vote them out. That what the system is mean to, and does, do.

Now it steps over those boundaries in attempts to control the lives of the people under it by telling them when to go to war to fight for a cause they may not agree with
The government is also here to provide for the common defense. There has never been a war in the history of this world the every single person agreed with. I believe that Bush in his heart thinks that Iraq is a threat to our common defense. And if he does I will believe him.

That was a wonderful post BucsFan. You can say what you want about this being a bad time to have a minority opinion in this county but as long has you truly believe what you are saying and listen to what other have to say there will always be people who will have tolerance for what you think.



(edited by calvinh0560 on 26.12.02 1353)
cranlsn
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Since: 18.3.02
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#4 Posted on
I'll agree with Calvin...I disagree with most of your opinions but I've got to respect the amount of time and thought you put into that.

That being said...it seemed to me that you were more of the feeling that anyone who happens to agree with the majority, or current popular, opinion must not care? That only dissenters can care?

I happen to care a great deal about many things, some of which you don't agree with, and I have put in my own time, money and effort for these causes. On that point I agree with you...there are too many people willing to "sit back" and let things just happen.

So I hope we can respectfully "agree to disagree" about the causes that we feel passionately about, but agree that even if yours is the "popular" or "majority" thought that it is possible to care and sacrifice for it.





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#5 Posted on
I really can't add much to what has already been said, except to share a quote I find very enlightened.
"A person is smart. People are stupid."
There is just something about a "group" mentality that makes people a pack of raging morons. That is the scary thing about elections- we as a nation are asking as big of a group as possible to decide how we are going to run our country.
Politics really is just an illusion in this country- a dog and pony show. Hence a thread I posted in a long time ago, suggesting that some people are just too damned stupid to vote. Some people should just not be involved in the process if they don't give a damned anyway...



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TheBucsFan
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#6 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.42
But Calvin, most of the accomplishments you list are simple materialistic goals. If driving a great car and going to space make your life as an individual better, than that's you. But much in the same way that people who wear flags think they are acomplishing something or making a statement, scientists who do these things are simply providing new objects for people to lust over while the real problems of the world go untouched. The next wave of computer technology allows people to overlook the fact that oppression and poverty are happening within their own country's very borders. Discussions about who has the better cell phone takes precedent over who has done what to help those who need it.

I realize that it seems very hypocritical to say "we should look out for those more needy" from a computer (as I'm talking on a cell phone too), but I honestly think that my life would be just as satisfying without these luxuries as long as I have the right o make my own decisions. Maybe a bit more difficult, but still enjoyable.

My point is, that most things hailed as great acheivements do very little to further society. People think they are acomplishing something great, but actually sidestep the hard issues.

Also:


    I am sorry but this country stands for building a better life for yourself. And I don't see why you have to "look forward to paying your taxes" to be patriotic. As long as you do pay taxes (which most people do) you yourself are doing your part for this country. Our government right now (and I dont think they will have a draft anytime soon) only requires you to pay for the military, not join it. That is one of the reason why our arm forces are the best in the world. Everyone in it join on their own free will.


My point is not that people don't pay taxes. My point is that many people claim to love this country and such, but resent paying the funds that help their beloved government do its work. If one were to go by the image given off by many Americans, one would think that our government wouldn't even have to require taxes, because people love this country so damn much they would pay anyway. But that isn't true, is it?

And I have seen nothing to convince me that we are providing for the "common defense" in Iraq right now. I know our president has told us "Iraq is bad, America is good," but he is hardly objective. I don't understand people's insistance on putting blind faith into our government's actions, assuming everything they do is right. I don't fully understand what is going on over there, and neither do you. You only know hat the American government wants you to know (or what they want you to think, would probably be more appropriate). So how can anyone reach a conclusion on the issue?

And the "common defense" is a myth anyway, being defined as "the actions deemed appropriate by the person in charge at any given time's whims."

Wear three meaningless colors? Sure. Arrange these three meaningless colors in a pattern on a cheap piece of cloth? No problem. Make a scrifice on your part to help the people you claim to love? Now that is asking too much...

And that brings me to another point I meant yo say earlier. People put too much emphasis on material things. Take, for instance, the American flag. If another nation's leader was shown on television burning a flag, there owuld surely be outrage (I mean, there is a law agaisnt it here for Americans to do it). Why? What does that flag have to do with this country or its people? How, in any way, does it affect anyone whatsoever? It doesn't, but things like logic and common sense go out the window when the masses need to act together.

(edited by TheBucsFan on 26.12.02 1921)
calvinh0560
Boudin rouge








Since: 3.1.02
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#7 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
Bucs do you think that the world is better today than it was 100 years ago? We have cars, airplanes, computers, microwaves, plus cures to a lot of diseases. The people in the nation have more freedom today wealth today than any other time. Sure there may be some (less than I think you believe) poverty and oppression today but we have made great strides over the years. We will continue to make strides too.

As for the burning the flag issue. The flag is a symbol for this country and when some people (including me) see someone else burning the flag it signifies that they want to destroy this country.
TheBucsFan
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#8 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.42
Again, wealth doesn't tell me anything about social development.

Oppresion today exists not in the sense many associate with the word. People are not held in concentration camps or facing the death penalty for their ideas. But there is extreme pressure to conform to a certain way of life, one in which people question little and assume everything will be OK. I really wish I could describe it better, but there is little outlet for those with dissenting opinions.

Also, the wants of others are in no way uner your or anyone else's control. If you kill Sadaam Huissain, another America hater will step up. The cycle will continue, and nothing will be solved. All you can do is prepare yourself in the event that something DOES happen. It is naive to think you can either change the ways the entire world wants to view you or that you can intimidate others into speaking against you.

Should I kill the next person I hear saying they hate me? Do you attack those who disagree with you? Why should international politics be any different then relations between any two humans? If I feel like a person is in fact a threat to my life, I won't take it into my own hands unless he has actually done something to me and I am defending myself. If I take the ofensive, I am then the criminal.

Also, the use of intimidation to try and scare the rest of the world from anti-American sentiment makes us no better than anyone else.
PalpatineW
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#9 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.44
Wealth is a terrific measure of a society's greatness. The poorest people today are infinitely richer than the poorest people of a hundred years ago, and as such have far greater control over their own lives. Wealth is a measure of how well we are living, how free we are to spend our time. "Social development," on the other hand, sounds suspiciously like a desire for everyone to think uniformly.

Oppresion today exists not in the sense many associate with the word. People are not held in concentration camps or facing the death penalty for their ideas. But there is extreme pressure to conform to a certain way of life, one in which people question little and assume everything will be OK. I really wish I could describe it better, but there is little outlet for those with dissenting opinions.

Equating social pressure with oppression, as you seem to be doing, is like equating a persuasive speech with a robbery at gunpoint. Just because I am bombarded with advertisements does not mean I have to obey them; there is such a thing as free will. Most of us here on this board feel like we have "dissenting opinions;" I'd say the internet is a pretty darn good outlet for ANY opinion. (cf., furries)

As for your Saddam analogy, what if I was a black man being threatened by a member of the KKK, at knifepoint? Can I shoot this man in self-defense, or do I have to wait until he's already stabbed me?

And that brings me to another point I meant yo say earlier. People put too much emphasis on material things. Take, for instance, the American flag. If another nation's leader was shown on television burning a flag, there owuld surely be outrage (I mean, there is a law agaisnt it here for Americans to do it). Why? What does that flag have to do with this country or its people? How, in any way, does it affect anyone whatsoever? It doesn't, but things like logic and common sense go out the window when the masses need to act together.

So what if Trent Lott went on TV and went a few steps further, burning a cross and suggesting we kill all the niggers? Would that be a problem? I suspect it would, and for the same reason a foreign leader burning our flag would be a problem: Because words, and actions, have meanings.

Patriotism is the same way; if you love your country so much, display it in a meaningful way: look forward to paying your taxes and then some so your beloved government can do its job;

You're equating the United States with its government. I'd rather equate it with its Constitution, and the inalienable rights of man it is here to protect.

Also, the use of intimidation to try and scare the rest of the world from anti-American sentiment makes us no better than anyone else.

The use of intimidation and force to scare the rest of the world into respecting us doesn't make us bad; it makes us SAFE. If you are trying to make a case that the United States is morally equivalent to any random totalitarian regime, you're going to have to try harder. Bush's malapropism is not the same as Saddam's torture of dissidents. Batman uses violence. Does this make him morally equivalent to the criminals he apprehends?



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TheBucsFan
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Since: 2.1.02

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#10 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.42
So, because of America's plan to prepare to attack Iraq, if Iraqis feel threatened and drop bombs on our country, they will be justified and you will not be upset, yes?

The Trent Lott analogy is meaningless. Trent Lott has jurisdiction over and responsibility to the American citizens. Other world leaders do not.

"Equating social pressure with oppression, as you seem to be doing, is like equating a persuasive speech with a robbery at gunpoint. Just because I am bombarded with advertisements does not mean I have to obey them; there is such a thing as free will."

Are you frowned upon if you choose store brand Cola over Pepsi because of or in spite of an ad? No. Are you frowned upon if you have an opinion that goes against what is mainstream and generally accepted as right? In many caes, yes. Persuasion is trying to convince someone of something. Pressure is threatening someone into making a certain choice.

"As for your Saddam analogy, what if I was a black man being threatened by a member of the KKK, at knifepoint? Can I shoot this man in self-defense, or do I have to wait until he's already stabbed me?"

If you are only verbally assaulted, all you can do is get away. If you feel threatened, stay away from him. The hypothetical KKK member can say whatever he wants, it is not until he acts on you that he has invaded your rights. Otherwise, you open your society up to ridiculous claims of verbal threats and before you know it, "That guy is a jerk" will be recognized as a punishable threat on someone's life.
PalpatineW
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#11 Posted on | Instant Rating: 5.44
So, because of America's plan to prepare to attack Iraq, if Iraqis feel threatened and drop bombs on our country, they will be justified and you will not be upset, yes?

I think that vindicates my argument.

The Trent Lott analogy is meaningless. Trent Lott has jurisdiction over and responsibility to the American citizens. Other world leaders do not.

The sense I got from you is that the flag is, essentially, some "meaningless colors." All I am trying to prove is that the flag is not meaningless.

Are you frowned upon if you have an opinion that goes against what is mainstream and generally accepted as right? In many caes, yes. Persuasion is trying to convince someone of something. Pressure is threatening someone into making a certain choice.

So what? OFB and I "frown upon" each other's political beliefs all friggin day in this forum, and I don't think either of us cries himself to sleep at the end of the day. What, are you going to outlaw public disagreement?

If you are only verbally assaulted, all you can do is get away. If you feel threatened, stay away from him. The hypothetical KKK member can say whatever he wants, it is not until he acts on you that he has invaded your rights. Otherwise, you open your society up to ridiculous claims of verbal threats and before you know it, "That guy is a jerk" will be recognized as a punishable threat on someone's life.

If you wave a gun at a police officer and refuse to put that gun away, you can expect to be shot. You cannot expect the officer to wait for you to shoot him before he shoots you. All of this is, I think, well within reason. Weapons don't have a lot of uses, so I think it's fair to assume that the man waving a gun (or anthrax) at you is probably going to use it.



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TheBucsFan
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#12 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.42
1) I overlooked the "at knifepoint" part of your KKK example. Yes, that is different. If the KKK member did that unprovoked, you would be justified. But I doubt (nobody really understands what started all this, as much as they want to believe they do; we only know what the gavernment and the pro-America biased media want us to think) Iraq's anger developed over nothing and was unprovoked.

2) You are right. The flag is not meaningless. That is the problem. Why do people put so much value in a piece of cloth?

"So, because of America's plan to prepare to attack Iraq, if Iraqis feel threatened and drop bombs on our country, they will be justified and you will not be upset, yes?

I think that vindicates my argument."

No, it proves gaps in your logic. Tell me, how would you react if tomorrow Iraq dropped bombs on Washington, claiming they feel threatened by recent anti-Iraq development? I doubt you would shrug it off and say "oh well, they have the right to do that." But for some reason you are willing to give your country that silly logic.

EDIT: You know, I didn't mean to turn this into another boring "what should we do in Iraq" debate. My point with my initial post was just to say that people are shallow enough to put more value in things like how many flags they wave around their house than they do how many donations they make to their government, or how much they stand up and fight (not literally go into combat; I mean through rallies and such) for what they believe in. They would rather sit back on the sidelines claiming to be a part of the action while others do the hard work.

Real patriots are people who continue to fight for the American value system, and promote the rights of individuals. I honestly don't understand how anyone could oppose that pledge ruling because, while I wasn't personally offended by it, somebody was and they had a perfectly logical and legal reason for being so. People who really are "proud" of the rights their country was supposedly founded on should have seen that as a great decision, but instead the nation reacted with outrage.

Real patriots are people who emerge from the crowd to stand up for a belief that may not be popular. People who not only take advantage of the rights given to them, but keep on fighting for those rights to be spread on to others.

(edited by TheBucsFan on 28.12.02 0933)
calvinh0560
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Since: 3.1.02
From: People's Republic of Massachusetts

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#13 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00

    Originally posted by TheBucsFan
    2) You are right. The flag is not meaningless. That is the problem. Why do people put so much value in a piece of cloth?<


Why do people put so much vaule in the constitution? I mean it is just a old piece of paper with some words on it.

The Flag is the symbol of this country just as the Constitution is the foundation of this country. You can't claim to think one is good (which you do when you believe in seperation of church and state, even though the pledge has nothing to do with that) and then say the other is just a piece of cloth.

As for your Iraq point. Is Iraq just shuging it off and saying "oh well". No they are not. They are firing on US and British Airplanes every day.
OlFuzzyBastard
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#14 Posted on
Well, the Constitution is the basis for the American system of government and people who value it are thinking more in the abstract sense. The flag is a piece of cloth. A symbolic piece of cloth, I'll grant you, but just a piece of cloth. It's like comparing apples and goats. Try again.



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#15 Posted on

    Originally posted by OlFuzzyBastard
    Well, the Constitution is the basis for the American system of government and people who value it are thinking more in the abstract sense. The flag is a piece of cloth. A symbolic piece of cloth, I'll grant you, but just a piece of cloth. It's like comparing apples and goats. Try again.
Oh, come on.



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calvinh0560
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Since: 3.1.02
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#16 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
    Originally posted by OlFuzzyBastard
    Well, the Constitution is the basis for the American system of government and people who value it are thinking more in the abstract sense. The flag is a piece of cloth. A symbolic piece of cloth, I'll grant you, but just a piece of cloth. It's like comparing apples and goats. Try again.


Sorry OldFuzzy but I just have to disagree with you on that one. The Constitution is just a piece of paper with a bunch of words written on it. Exactly the same as the Sunday newspaper that is sitting beside me right now. The reason that the Constitution is much more important than the Brockton Enterprise is the ideas that this piece of paper convey. Its EXCATLY the same with the American Flag. Sure it is made from the same cloth and my New England Patriots flag I own but there is a reason why one is hanging outside my house and the other is pinned to the wall of my bedroom.


(edited by calvinh0560 on 29.12.02 1053)
TheBucsFan
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#17 Posted on | Instant Rating: 4.42
Look, the Constitution literally outlines all the rights this country is supposed to promote. It physically lays the foundation for everything this country and its government do.

The flag only means what is does because people want it to. It can be toilet paper or it can be a symbol of freedom, it is left entirely up to the perosn viewing it. There is no debating the Constitution and its importance, on the other hand.

Society has decided to make the American flag a weakness for some reason. The reason it has the potential to be so "damaging" to this country is because people would decide they wanted it to bother them.

EDIT: Perhaps I can best sum it up like this: attacking the American flag is more likely to get a reaction of anger and vengeance from many people than attacking the principles in the Constitution is, despite people claiming the flag to be a symbol of these very principles. And in some cases, I think people would react the same way to a burnt flag as they would to dead American soldiers. How can a symbol mean more than the objext it is supposed to be representing?

(edited by TheBucsFan on 29.12.02 1233)
MoeGates
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#18 Posted on | Instant Rating: 7.02
Why do people put so much vaule in the constitution? I mean it is just a old piece of paper with some words on it.

The Flag is the symbol of this country just as the Constitution is the foundation of this country. You can't claim to think one is good (which you do when you believe in seperation of church and state, even though the pledge has nothing to do with that) and then say the other is just a piece of cloth.


Well, yes, literally it is just a piece of paper with some words on it. And if I ripped the copy of the constitution out of my dictionary, went to Times Square, set it on fire, and said "I'm burning the Constitution!" no one would give a shit. Why? Because I'm not actually burning the duty of the lower house of congress to originate spending bills. I'm burning a piece of paper and some ink. Just like someone who's burning the flag is not actually burning the liberties our soldiers have died for. They're buring a piece of cloth and some dye.

Conservatives who get all uppity about how everyone is so easily offended nowdays, and how the liberals want the governent to become the PC thought police and all that other garbage should really take their own advice on this one.

(edited by MoeGates on 29.12.02 2041)

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calvinh0560
Boudin rouge








Since: 3.1.02
From: People's Republic of Massachusetts

Since last post: 560 days
Last activity: 2 hours
#19 Posted on | Instant Rating: 0.00
I am just trying to convey how the flag is not just a piece of Cloth. I am not in favor of the laws against flag burning. But I also think if you want to burn a cross on your own land you should be able to. Free Speech is Free Speech.
vsp
Andouille








Since: 3.1.02
From: Philly

Since last post: 3033 days
Last activity: 247 days
#20 Posted on

    Originally posted by calvinh0560
    I am just trying to convey how the flag is not just a piece of Cloth. I am not in favor of the laws against flag burning. But I also think if you want to burn a cross on your own land you should be able to. Free Speech is Free Speech.


Oddly, I'm in agreement with you on the cross issue. People burning crosses on their _own_ lawns haven't been a major problem, AFAIK -- it's when they bring the crosses to the lawns of people they despise and burn them THERE as a symbolic "We hate you" act that things have gotten ugly.

Likewise, burning the flag is generally a symbolic act. Those who burn the flag in anger aren't doing so to keep warm -- they're doing it as a protest against "what it stands for," as they perceive it. Here's the catch -- "what it stands for" is completely subjective.

I could stand on my front lawn this evening and burn a flag, and not one of you would know for sure precisely _what_ I was protesting unless I explained myself further. Would I be symbolically striking out against the nation as a generalized whole? Against its freedoms, its history, its affluence, its station of global leadership? Against the President, and/or others in his administration who help him craft his policies? Against American military and/or intelligence agencies and their actions, past, present and/or future? Against American corporations that wield immense power and help frame global economics? Against a theoretical Bob K. Smith from Tucson, who I've never personally met or heard of, but who happens to be a proud American and who would be offended by my action?

Hard to say. I could look at an American flag and see any or all of those aspects, depending on my perspective at the time. Someone watching me do it might view it from a completely different perspective. But that's the point -- as long as I'm not endangering anyone else's health or welfare, and I'm not invading someone else's privacy in the process, I should be allowed to burn an American flag, a copy of the Constitution, a cross, an effigy of Rip Taylor or anything else I damn well please. I should be allowed to do it as a political statement, as an artistic statement, as a lark or as an attempt to keep warm in the winter. If someone takes any of that as "burning a symbol of America," well, they should also keep in mind that _their_ perception of what America (or its flag) stands for is not absolute.



"When I feel depressed, I sit under a willow tree by a cool river, and imagine that I am strangling a duck." -- Kotaro Sarai
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