Should arguing about God be illegal

As a preliminary mater, let me say that including references in comments is a common practice in the debates I have seen on this site. Since the issue has been raised, however, I will include my previous set of references below so as to not exceed 12000 characters total.

I will also add for this round:

Now, on to the merits.

Pledge of allegiance

My opponent concedes that the pledge is not "an official legal document," thereby reinforcing my premise that it is not legally binding. We should not punish people for reneging on a not-legally-binding agreement. Moreover, my opponent concedes (beyond what I would claim) that the pledge of allegiance is akin to allegiance to a sports team. A free society should not incarcerate a grownup for withdrawing allegiance to a sports team favored while a child. Nor, should we be concerned with purely symbolic hostility directed at our nation's emblems.

My opponent states, "All citizens have a duty and obligation to be loyal to their nation." I agree, but that loyalty is, as he says, to the nation and its ideals, not its symbols or leaders. What of a soldier who is ordered to shoot foreign civilians, or American Jews, or Republicans? Refusing such an order would be more loyal to the United States than following it. Dissent can be a greater form of loyalty than compliance.

Strict Scrutiny and C1

My opponent confuses "government interest" with "compelling government interest." Quashing dissent has never been held to be a compelling government interest -- very much the opposite, in fact. Moreover, flag burning bans have been held to fail strict scrutiny in Texas v. Johnson[b]. The Constitution would need to be amended to remove first amendment protections for flag burning to effect a ban.

There certainly are exceptions to the first amendment, but flag burning has previously been held not to be one[8,b]. All of the exceptions my opponent listed involve tangible harm (like people being trampled leaving a theater) and none of them involve political speech. The question before the Supreme Court in the case above was "whether Texas has asserted an interest ... unrelated to the suppression of expression" (emphasis added)[b]. The ban proposed is strictly related to expression particularly because, as stated below, the ban does not apply to reverent burnings, only irreverent ones.


The phrase is "Aid and Comfort." My opponent seems to have missed the logical conjunctive. What is needed to be convicted of treason is an "overt act"[7] of giving material aid to an enemy, not merely doing something that an enemy may like. His preposterously broad reading would yield absurd results. Certainly the U.S. World Cup team's losing gives some comfort to Ayatollah Khomeini, but I think we all agree the players should not be held for treason. Finally, even if to burn the flag were treason, this fact would not support the proposition. Treason is already illegal under 18 USC 115 [c], so if burning the flag were treason there would be no need to pass an additional law banning flag burning.


My opponent here and in his reply to C1 clearly illustrates that what he is truly interested in is purely censorship. It is fine for him if you want to burn the flag out of respect for our government, but not out of protest. It is exactly this kind of discrimination between favored ideas and unfavored ones that the first amendment was designed to prevent. If Congress has the power to ban burning the American flag in protest, why not the Confederate flag? If Congress has the power to ban burning the Confederate flag, then why would it not have the power to ban waving a Confederate flag or a Gadson flag or a church flag?

Burning a live person is not a form of speech and can be banned because of the material harm caused that person. Burning someone in effigy is protected under the first amendment.


Some parts of the Constitution apply to citizens, some parts to all people, and authors of the constitution know how to distinguish the two. In the 15th amendment it says, "The right of citizens of the United States..." The 14th amendment says, "No state shall ... deny any person..." The first amendment says neither. It is a restriction on the government stating "Congress shall make no law..." That restriction was extended to the state legislators by the 14th amendment[d].


The power for stimulus spending comes from the tax and spend clause. Health care purportedly comes from the power to regulate interstate commerce, but this exercise of Congressional power is now being challenged in court and may be overturned. The necessary and proper clause only applies to actions "necessary and proper" to carrying out the enumerated functions. Because Congress has the power to create post offices it has the power to create the crime of robbing a post office. There is no such predicate for creating a national flag. Moreover, Congress taking one unconstitutional action does not grant it the power to take another.


Like my opponent, I find flag burning offensive and disrespectful. There are others, however, who feel that it is the most powerful way to voice their disappointment in the actions of their government. There can be no free society without the right to protest government action, and that is exactly what the proposed ban seeks to take away. It does not ban the act of burning the flag, only the idea that it's being burned in protest of the government. In the words of president Eisenhower, "May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."[a] My opponent does just that.

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