Posts filed under Great Conservative Cultural Revolution

Punch a hippie in the face for Freedom


See if you can spot the Freedom in this photograph.

There are no enforceable laws against flag desecration in the United States. There have been no such laws for over twenty five years. But bring up flag burning and a lot of American nationalists — especially, it seems, political conservatives — will get pretty heated about their right to beat people up who express Patriotically Incorrect political views, or to beat people up just for being a dirty hippie. This kind of appeal to crude instinctual violence only goes so far however, so if the conversation goes on, many of them (more, it seems, in the last few years) will come around to make a claim that it is actually illegal to burn a U.S. flag, and that people can be arrested for doing it. They are completely mistaken about that claim. But it’s interesting, and a bit scary, that they are so pervasively and repetitively and insistently mistaken.

Let’s set aside for the moment the question of whether or not there’s anything wrong with burning a U.S. flag in protest. And let’s set aside for the moment whether or not there’d be anything wrong with burning a U.S. flag in protest if it were illegal. We’ll come back to that later, but it’s a separate question.

Those who claim that burning an American flag is illegal rarely cite a source for this claim. If they do, they will normally point to something like 18 USC 700, on Desecration of the flag of the United States.[1] What they don’t seem to have noticed is that 18 USC 700 has no legal force. It hasn’t had any legal force for two and a half decades. It’s still printed in copies of the U.S. code, but both that law, and any law substantially like it, were struck down as violations of free speech rights a quarter century ago in Texas v. Johnson and United States v. Eichman. This is not a new development. It’s been the case for decades.

Shared Article from


In 1989, Congress passed the Flag Protection Act which made it a crime to destroy an American flag or any likeness of an American flag which may be “commonly displayed.” The law did, however, allow proper disposal of a worn or soiled flag. Several prosecutions resulted from the Act. Eichman set a flag ablaze on the steps of the U.S. Capitol while protesting the government’s domestic and foreign policy. Another prosecution (United States v. Haggerty) resulted from a flag-burning in Seattle protesting the passage of the Flag Protection Act.Both cases (Eichman’s and Haggerty’s) were argued together.

The claim that flag-burning is illegal or punishable by law is pure nationalist political mythology. There is no enforceable law against flag desecration in the United States. If you claim that there is, you’ve been misinformed, and you are spreading misinformation.

Now, of course, even if there were an enforceable law against desecrating or burning a flag, your own property, whenever you see fit to do so, that law would be a petty tyranny, an obvious and stupid invasion of people’s basic rights to freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Using force to censor and curtail basic freedom of speech and basic property rights is wrong, and fundamentally unjust, no matter what the law says.

If it were illegal to burn flags, then every one of us would have a perfect right to burn flags in defiance of the law, as an act of civil disobedience against unjust restrictions on free speech. Laws that elevate the symbolism of a piece of cloth over the rights of living people to the integrity of their own minds, their own bodies, and their own property, — laws that propose censorship and punitive force against those whose peaceful protests offend the delicate sensibilities of Patriotic Correctness — deserve nothing but contempt and defiance, whenever and wherever they exist.

But of course they don’t even exist in this case. They’re pure mythology. But myths are created and repeated because they serves a political and cultural function. There’s something worth noting in the fact that so many of the self-appointed Home Guard have a manifest felt need, that they so badly want to believe in a government that can and will use violence to punish offenses against the dignity of their national flag, even in spite of what they could have found out with two minutes’ research on the Internet. This kind of violent Patriotic Correctness is, of course, nothing more than bullying and violent censorship. A form of bullying and violent censorship where many of the bullies and the censors so desperately feel the need for government support that they will conjure non-existent laws to back up their burning desire to punch a hippie in the face. The saddest thing of all is that they will tell you that they do this because the flag means so very much, and it means so very much because it stands for freedom. That should tell you something about the kind of American Nation, and the kind of freedom, that they are so exercised to protect against the scourge of peaceful protest and free speech.

My own view of course is that sedition and open disrespect for the government are American traditions, and they deserve to be honored.

Happy Revolution Day weekend.

So perish all compromises with tyranny! And let all the people say, Amen!William Lloyd Garrison


Small-government conservatism (Facebook Macro edition)

Here is an image that was recently being passed around on a conservative, Tea Party group on Facebook.













So, just to re-cap:


So, seriously conservatarians, if this is what you want, what you want hasn’t got anything even remotely to do with liberty. If you thought that this did have something to do with liberty, then you need to re-think some of your life choices.

Nationalism is the death of liberty.

Primary season in Alabama

One reason to be glad for YouTube is that it gives me a chance to keep up with some of the things from back home that I’d miss out here in Vegas if it weren’t for the Internet. It’s summer in Alabama now, and it’s an even-numbered year. Which means it doesn’t matter if you get the local TV or not — no matter where you may be, thanks to YouTube it’s the season for Alabama state politics — the greatest show on earth.

Here’s Fob’s boy Tim, offering a soft-lit and touching tribute to monolingualism and belligerent ignorance:

Meanwhile, Dale By-God! Peterson is going to kick the ass of the Republican nomination for Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.

It’s a dime a dozen for cowboy-themed campaign commercials in Alabama state politics. But this is something special. Listen up: the moment when Dale Peterson, having just finished off a completely out-of-right-field tirade about migrant workers somehow hurting farming in Alabama (?) and a paranoid rant about Facebook bragging and the minions of his political opponents stealing his yard signs in the dead of night, then goes on to shout We’re Republicans! and hefts a rifle up over the fence — well, it may be one of the most wonderful unintentional Happenings that I have ever seen on television.

(Via Roderick Long and Tennyson McCalla)

Pat Robertson Vs. The Past and Human Decency

In which Pat Robertson reaches the bottom of his own personal barrel, and starts digging:

And you know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it, they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince, true story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor… the Island of Hispaniola is one island cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is, is, prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty, same Islands, uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come, …

I know that it’s always easy to blame the victim, and that every mass grave has a silver lining and all, but fuckin’ A, dude, really?

If you’re curious as to when Napoleon III was ruling Haiti, well so am I. But more to point than this sort of dynastic pettifogging is that Pat Robertson believes that the current death and suffering in Haiti is the result of their being cursed, and interprets the second successful anti-imperialist revolution in the history of the Americas, the most successful slave uprising in the history of the world, and the establishment of the world’s first ideologically anti-slavery republic, as a Satanic conspiracy, consecrated in a pact between the Haitian people (collectively?) and the Devil himself.

(For the really curious, the true story that Robertson interprets as being the occasion on which Haitian Revolutionaries somehow sold the entire nation and their posterity to the Devil is probably the Bois Caïman ceremony in August 1791, an African religious ceremony traditionally held to have been led by Boukman Dutty at the beginning of the slave uprisings which became the dominant force in the Haitian Revolution. Of course, in 1791, this had nothing much to do with Napoleon I, let alone Napoleon III. In any case, the prayer traditionally attributed to Boukman actually invokes The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. The notion that the ceremony was a pact with the Devil that promised to turn Haiti over to his domination for 200 years if he would grant worldly success to their rebellion, is a fabrication added by white historians after the fact, as part of their efforts to reinterpret the revolution against race slavery as literally the product of supernatural intervention by the forces of Hell unleashed. In any case, even if that were the deal, it’s supposed to have expired back in 1991.)

For some more lucid commentary on why Haiti faces the permanent state of emergency that it has faced for the past several decades, you might check out this historical overview from the Times of London; the short answer is that Haitian people have been forced, for two centuries now, to labor to pay off iniquitous reparations to their former enslavers and debts contracted, without their permission, by governments that oppressed and killed them. As important as solidarity and relief are in terrible times like these, the only real and lasting solution is not charity, but complete repudiation of these unpayable, nonconsensual, government-inflicted blood debts.

See also:

Conservatism Vs. The Past

Over at PajamasMedia, Mary Grabar tells us that Libertarians Need to Rethink Support for Drug Legalization, thus:

Libertarians are fond of pointing to the wreckage caused by the abuse of alcohol: deterioration of health, traffic deaths, and domestic violence. This is true, but it is an analogy that emerges from an abstraction. Libertarians argue that the only difference between the two is traditional: we have stamped alcohol consumption with a seal of social approval.

But I would argue that tradition should be a reason for its continued legal status and for denying legal status to marijuana.

… But I would argue that it should, not only from my position as a Christian, but from my position as a citizen of a country whose foundational values spring from the Judeo-Christian heritage. The sanction for alcohol use has lasted for millennia. It has become part of our rituals at meals, celebrations, and religious services. That is a large part of why Prohibition failed.

Marijuana, in contrast, has always been counter-cultural in the West. Every toke symbolizes a thumb in the eye of Western values. So it follows that in order to maintain our culture, we need to criminalize this drug.

The prohibition against marijuana is one brick in the foundation of our society.

— Mary Grabar, PajamasMedia (2009-12-22): Libertarians Need to Rethink Support for Drug Legalization

This is an idiotic argument logically. Factually, it’s an exercise in politico-historical fantasy. The prohibition against marijuana in the United States dates back to A.D. 1937; my grandparents were older than marijuana prohibition. There is no such thing as a tradition of criminalizing pot; cannabis was well known throughout the Fertile Crescent, Central Asia, and the Far East for millennia, and it was completely legal everywhere in the world throughout all of human history, right up until a couple of decades into the 20th century.

Of course, the main thing to say here is really that maintaining our [sic] culture is not a good enough reason for criminalizing nonviolent people. If your culture can only be maintained at the point of a gun, then your culture sucks, and the sooner you stop maintaining it on the backs of harmless pot-smokers, the better.

But if you’re a frequent reader here, that much should, really, go without saying. Apply the usual libertarian defense of the liberty to decide how you use your own damned body, and the usual anarchist indictment of legally sanctioning police violence against harmless people.

The reason that I mention the story here[*] is that it’s another fine illustration of the mindset of a certain sort of conservative — for whom tradition means invincible ignorance about what actually happened in the past, for whom conservatism means a felt need to pretend that the peculiar legal conditions and parenting panics of your own childhood years are really civilizational norms stretching back into time out of mind, and for whom politics is the belligerent expression of an urge to use absolutely any means at your disposal, no matter how intrusive, police-statist or violent, to politically march us all back into a past which, fortunately for the people of Antiquity, never existed in the first place.

* Well, the main reason for most of it. The pull-quote about every toke being a thumb in the eye of Western civilization is something I just threw in for laughs.