Dec 022016
English: SILVERDALE, Wash. (June 14, 2010) Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Scott T. Coykendall, an instructor at Trident Training Facility (TTF), salutes the burning remains of 14 national ensigns during a flag burning ceremony Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. Students and staff from TTF participated in the flag burning ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: SILVERDALE, Wash. (June 14, 2010) Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Scott T. Coykendall, an instructor at Trident Training Facility (TTF), salutes the burning remains of 14 national ensigns during a flag burning ceremony Naval Base Kitsap, Wash. Students and staff from TTF participated in the flag burning ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chantel M. Clayton/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

“Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag,” writes US president-elect Donald Trump in one of his patented incendiary (pun intended) tweets. “[I]f they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

You’ve probably heard all the arguments for and against a flag-burning ban, most of them variations of the maudlin “my ancestor died for that flag” or the obvious (and Supreme Court affirmed) fact that flag-burning is a form of political expression protected by the First Amendment. Let me throw another one at you:

Flags are property.

If someone wants to set fire to a brightly colored piece of cloth, it’s nobody else’s business unless the flag is stolen, the flag-burner is trespassing, or burning the flag endangers other people’s lives or property.

That’s true even if you’ve convinced yourself that your grandfather “died for” that brightly colored piece of cloth (hopefully he died for something more consequential than your favorite rectangular textile pattern).

It’s true even if you profoundly disagree with the point the flag-burner is trying to convey (or, as may well be the case, even if you can’t really tell what that point might be).

It’s true even if you’re Donald J. Trump.

You don’t have to like it. That’s how it is whether you like it or not.

It’s not that I don’t get the sentimental attachment many Americans have to the flag. I do.

In elementary school, one of my duties as a student crossing guard was raising, lowering and folding the flag each day. As a US Marine, I occasionally performed the same duties, and of course saluted the colors as appropriate. My brother still has the 48-star flag which covered the casket of my grandfather, a World War II veteran, and if my family so desires there will be a 50-star flag on my own casket one of these days (I’ll be dead, so I won’t really care, right?).

Even though my own political beliefs tend more toward the black flag of anarchy these days, I still have a soft spot for Old Glory.

But if Trump and the burning-banners get their way, I’ll be among the first to hit the pavement with a kerosene-soaked American flag and a cigarette lighter. The proper and accepted method of disposal for a desecrated flag is burning it, and Trump’s off-the-cuff attempt to wrap himself in the stars and stripes with a proposed burning ban would, if successful, constitute desecration of the very value most Americans place on it.

Furthermore, neither my free speech rights nor my property rights are negotiable. The author of The Art of the Deal has nothing to offer for them that I find tempting.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

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 December 2, 2016  Posted by at 12:54 am Issue #195, Thomas L. Knapp  Add comments

  24 Responses to “Hey, @RealDonaldTrump, Hands Off My Flag”

  1. This article is sure to piss off a bunch of people who drank the Kool-aid; those who devoutly pledged allegiance to a flag. Think about that for a moment as if you were a space alien anthropologist observer: These creatures pledge allegiance to textiles. Is that hereditary or acquired insanity? I understand the concept of a flag being representative of an organization of people with common beliefs and principles. I understand rituals. I understand religion in all its forms, both spiritual and secular. I understand mechanisms of control. I understand idols and the worship thereof. Today’s flag (of any nation or entity) represents something very different than it used to, but regardless of what it may represent or used to represent, it’s still cloth and not your mother. I would be more concerned about the resulting toxic fumes than the actual ignition.

  2. I am 100 percent with TRump on this. Burn our flag and I burn your ass

  3. People sit on it; they eat off it; and, if paper cups and plates, they put it in the trash; they wear it; and they even wipe their butts with it! Sorry, Trumpie – don’t agree with you. (Damn, I think I just insulted a bird!)

  4. To those that don’t respect our flag , please go back to your own country as you dam sure do not belong here. If all you see is cloth then you missed something.Perhaps you were born here and raised by parents that did not belong here or teach you what the flag stands for. Trump will put you in place.

  5. Jim in Key West,

    If you don’t respect what America is about, please move to North Korea where things are operated more along the lines you seem to want.

    Trump can kiss my ass.

  6. I will point your ass out to Trump but he won’t be kissing it.

    Perhaps you know a lot about North Korea and it is you that should move to it.

    Started in grade school. “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
    Where did you go to school ? Did you miss that day ?

    • The pledge of allegiance was written by a flag salesman, who also happened to be a socialist. It helped him sell more flags, which was its entire purpose. A rag sells better, and for more, if you can trick idiots into worshiping it.

    • jiminkeywest… can you point out a single part of the pledge that is true?

  7. Maybe we need that wall as fast as we can build it. Seems Trump has the right idea. But the fine for a flag burner should be a boot out of the USA.
    What part is not true ? If your not part of it then leave.

    • “What part is not true?”

      Pretty much all of it.

      If I own a piece of cloth and want to set it on fire, it is: NONE. OF. YOUR. BUSINESS.

      Nor is it Trump’s business.

      If you try to make it your business, you’re right about one thing: There will be a boot involved. My boot, up your ass.

    • jiminkeywest… you speak without thought, analysis, acumen, or knowledge. you react with vitriol, bigotry, complacency, and ignorance.

      you are the very definition of the kind of person you so despise.

      you genuflect before a failed businessman(4 bankruptcies), and reality show host; your credibility is as limited as your empathy.

  8. It is clear that we have many in our country that should be deported. As to burning the flag , you seem to miss the point. First off it not just a piece of cloth. It was till it was turned into a flag. Many REAL men died to defend it. But must agree some show it no respect. So if your really as brave as you claim to be I put you to a challenge. Go on you tube and show your face and copy of drivers license while burning the flag.

    Then sit back and worry who will get to you first. Secret service or a vet. Be a real stupid ass and post the link here if Naja allows it. You clearly do not belong in the USA if you do not understand what our flag represents. I am sure you will be receiving a visit. You dam sure are not an American and we can part with you anytime you wish to leave the USA . Trump should deport your ass but a faster cheaper way is to see you get shot.

    • I am a vet, moron — US Marine Corps, infantry, Desert Storm, honorable discharge.

      I won’t say I’ve never lost a fight, but I’ve never had a fight that the other guy didn’t know was a real fight.

      My property, my rights. You don’t have to like it. That’s how it is whether you like it or not. If I ever decide to burn a flag, I will assume from the start that I’m also going to have to kick an ass or two afterward.

      • Or be kicked or shot. As long as you clearly understand how it might end then go for it.

        I am a vet, moron .
        Yes you are. Are plenty of REAL vets that will kick or kill your ass.

        Honorable simply means you served.
        Why did you serve a country you do not seem to support ?

        • You really don’t get it, do you?

          If you don’t support Americans’ rights — including the right to burn pieces of cloth they own and you don’t — you don’t support America.

          Which is fine, I guess, until you try to inflict it on me. At which point I kick your ass, stuff you in a box, put a stamp on it and mail you to North Korea where you belong.

          • All seems to hinge on your calling it cloth. And indeed if that is all it is then yes your property. So yes you can burn cloth with maybe charge of arson depending on how and where you do this.

            Maybe desert storm caused you mental issues.

            I will not simply call it cloth. To be it is our FLAG and stands for our country. Trump will be president soon and do hope this is one of his first chores . He has a lot of work ahead to undo the last 8 years. I do owe Obama thanks, without him I would not been able to buy up property for 30 cents on the dollar.

          • There’s no particular reason to believe Trump will be any better than Obama was. With rare exceptions, each president seems to be at least as bad as the previous one and usually worse.

            And just as with Obama, to the extent Trump tries to tear down the Constitution and destroy America, I’ll resist him.

          • Trump may or may not prove to be a good choice. He will soon prove this. He actually already has begun working before even in office. He deserves the right to prove himself. Do plan on him using all the power his office grants him.

            The flag issue is just 1 of many issues.

            We just don’t agree on what the flag actually is. Under your view of it I do see your point. The way I view the constitution says burning it is illegal. We must read all of it and amendments.

  9. Well, obviously not everyone is going to agree on this. I do want to thank The Blue Paper for publishing a column that was bound to be a bit controversial.

  10. Yes , thankfully the Blue Paper does print all opinions. And no we don’t need to all agree and seldom will. Trump won because of the 2 choices we had. Yes , he might go a bit too far and do hope we can still be friends with Cuba.
    That is one thing I will credit Obama with. He opened the door to Cuba and I see that as a positive future. Time will tell. If the economy fails I stand to profit from it. I really don’t need the money and will be happy if what Trump does is keep jobs here and not see them go to Mexico.

  11. Thomas, Engaging in a battle of wits with an unarmed man — tsk, tsk.

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