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#1
Old 08-30-2014, 12:17 AM
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Isn't 'Symbol Burning' Protected by the 1st Amendment.

Kindly read this (very short, thankfully) article.

Now, I want to make a couple of things very clear here. I would never desecrate the Christian Bible (or the Koran, or the Hindu texts--you get the picture). I am personally against such acts of hate. And pursuant to that, I would never desecrate the American flag either.

But that last one brings up another good issue. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, flag burning is protected by our First Amendment (and I do strongly support the First Amendment--sorry, if you disagree). So why wouldn't Bible burning be too?

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#2
Old 08-30-2014, 12:25 AM
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In Virginia V Black (what a name for a case on cross burning) the Supreme Court found that laws against cross burning were constitutional so long as the intent was to intimidate. I believe they found that the simple fact the cross was burned was not enough unless it was also shown that the intent was intimidation. There could be a similar law here. I doubt they would have any trouble proving intimidation here.
#3
Old 08-30-2014, 12:27 AM
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Found the law here and that turns out to be exactly it. 13_1707 is an anti KKK cross burning law (wouldn't have thought it necessary in Arizona) and 13_1708 is an anti- burning anything else law. Sounds like someone tried to get around the law by redefining cross or something and they widened it.

Last edited by flight; 08-30-2014 at 12:30 AM.
#4
Old 08-30-2014, 12:36 AM
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What was he charged with? Flag desecration may be protected speech, but starting a fire and urinating on someone else's property isn't. Edit: Never mind, I see it says "unlawful symbol burning."

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 08-30-2014 at 12:39 AM.
#5
Old 08-30-2014, 12:41 AM
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Ask some Vietnam era people who burned their draft cards about this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_card_burning
#6
Old 08-30-2014, 12:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flight View Post
In Virginia V Black (what a name for a case on cross burning) the Supreme Court found that laws against cross burning were constitutional so long as the intent was to intimidate. I believe they found that the simple fact the cross was burned was not enough unless it was also shown that the intent was intimidation. There could be a similar law here. I doubt they would have any trouble proving intimidation here.
So sad. Bible burning is "intimidation". But carrying signs that say "God Hates F-gs" and "F-g=Death" isn't. What am I missing here?
#7
Old 08-30-2014, 02:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
So sad. Bible burning is "intimidation". But carrying signs that say "God Hates F-gs" and "F-g=Death" isn't. What am I missing here?
The part where he did it on someone else's private property?
#8
Old 08-30-2014, 02:30 AM
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Bible Burning is perfectly protected speech under the Constitution.

However, most cities have laws against open fires, for safety reasons.

Trespass laws are relevant too.

And, yes, there are ways in which it could be construed as illegal intimidation. One has to be careful. On the other hand, the authorities can't use that as a general loophole to infringe on legitimate protest and symbolic speech.

(I'm reminded of the bad cop who tried to shut down the filming of a porno movie by claiming that, since people were being paid to have sex, it was illegal, being "prostitution." The judge scolded him for trying to make an end-run around the First Amendment. Anyone trying to claim that any act of Bible burning is "intimidation" is committing the same sin.)
#9
Old 08-30-2014, 09:14 AM
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It seems that what we have here is an intersection of a truly awful law and a truly awful person.
#10
Old 08-30-2014, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Bible Burning is perfectly protected speech under the Constitution.

However, most cities have laws against open fires, for safety reasons.
Also against public urination.
#11
Old 08-30-2014, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
But that last one brings up another good issue. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, flag burning is protected by our First Amendment (and I do strongly support the First Amendment--sorry, if you disagree). So why wouldn't Bible burning be too?

The first amendment doesn't say anything about whether symbolic actions like burning objects is a form of speech. So the political appointees who make up the Supreme Court are perfectly free to say that flag burning is protected and Bible burning is not. Why would that be remarkable?

I did read something this morning that may or may not explain why the US Constitution, and the semi-democratic political institution that sets its contemporary meaning, is treated the way it is in forums like this:

http://theweek.com/article/index/267...astern-ukraine

Quote:
America has a blind spot when it comes to nationhood. America's implicit theory of humans seems to be that as long as they get "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" out of their government (and low taxes and the ability to vote the bums out), they're happy. But people want another thing out of their government: nationhood.

What this means is tricky, because each nation defines what it is for itself, often implicitly. For some nations, nationhood is tied closely to ethnicity. For some, it is tied to land. For some, it's language or culture or history. For most countries, it is a mysterious mix of all of these. America is almost unique in believing, at least officially, that its nationhood is fundamentally defined by agreement to a set of legal rules.
What I get from the above is that there is a legalistic aspect of American patriotism I just don't feel deep down the way some of my countrymen do.

I realize that when the Supremes write their decisions, they try quite hard to ground them in that set of legal rules. And if there isn't much of political controversy over some issue, legal rules may trump a slight personal preference. But on hot button issues, I say that consistency has nothing to do with it -- the politically appointed justices are going to vote their political preference. This doesn't make us a bad country, but it doesn't distinguish us from other democracies either.

Last edited by PhillyGuy; 08-30-2014 at 09:12 PM.
#12
Old 08-30-2014, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by PhillyGuy View Post
. . . I say that consistency has nothing to do with it -- the politically appointed justices are going to vote their political preference. . . .
Sometimes, but they tend to be condemned for it. This is also why the approval process is so tough. The President nominates, and the Senate grinds the poor bastard into yoghurt.

The ideal really is adherence to the constitution, and, with some very painful exceptions (like Scalia, who will flip-flop on things like legislative intent as it suits his conservative-only legal analysis) the big nine stick to that.

In addition to all that, I would say that the U.S. still holds very strongly to "assimilation" nationhood. If you play along, you'll be largely welcomed. Racial prejudice is a big dent in this ideal, but it really is the ideal. The "American Dream" is...to be part of the American Dream.
#13
Old 08-31-2014, 12:57 PM
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I can see the case for intimidation in this instance, but I'm not sure it supports a conviction. What did this idiot think would be the effects of his intimidation? It sounds a lot more like a cross between a desperate attempt to be cool and a genuine crazy person attempt to cast a curse. That is not analogous to a KKK cross burning, with its real-world intimidation effects.
#14
Old 08-31-2014, 01:36 PM
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You can burn a Bible to make a point (that's exercising Free Speech), but you can't do it to scare people. I'd go so far as to say you oughtn't burn a Bible for any reason if you might scare people, but that's the world according to me, not the law.

Just this month, someone approached me before a public ritual and asked me if we could burn some family Bibles that no one wanted any more. His intent was fully respectful, and in fact the action was suggested by his mother, an Episcopalian Priest. I couldn't do it. Not because I was afraid of the law - clearly, the intent was not to intimidate anyone - but because I didn't want to inadvertently offend anyone. The last thing I wanted was someone getting upset and running to the local press with the news that a bunch of Pagans were burning Bibles at their Lammas ritual. In rural southern Indiana, which is part of the Bible Belt.

We did burn them later that night, with a complete explanation and the consent of everyone who was left around the fire, who were all people we knew and thought would understand the situation.

Free speech or no, there's no need to be a jerk.

Last edited by WhyNot; 08-31-2014 at 01:38 PM. Reason: looked up a map...apparently we WERE in "The Bible Belt"
#15
Old 08-31-2014, 04:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim B. View Post
But that last one brings up another good issue. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, flag burning is protected by our First Amendment (and I do strongly support the First Amendment--sorry, if you disagree). So why wouldn't Bible burning be too?
Has this particular AZ law been challenged in court? Has such a challenge gone to the SCOTUS? If not, then we really don't know if it would be upheld or not. It's not uncommon for it take some time to clean out the various state laws that one might think an earlier SCOTUS decision made unconstitutional.

Or, this particular person may not have acted in a manner that the SCOTUS would say is protected speech, even if some other person prosecuted under that law could be.
#16
Old 08-31-2014, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyNot View Post
You can burn a Bible to make a point (that's exercising Free Speech), but you can't do it to scare people. I'd go so far as to say you oughtn't burn a Bible for any reason if you might scare people, but that's the world according to me, not the law. . . .
I would worry about escalationists -- provocateurs -- who would make sure to move aggressively forward to declare that they are terrified by the vicious threats against them that the burning represents.

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Free speech or no, there's no need to be a jerk.
Very true... But I want to make sure to protect the right to be a jerk. I hate everything Rush Limbaugh says...but I will (holding my nose) fight to protect his right to say it. If jerkish speech is not protected...then you may be sure, someone will come forward and claim that any given speech is "jerkish."
#17
Old 08-31-2014, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by GoodOmens View Post
It seems that what we have here is an intersection of a truly awful law
Did you actually read the law? You think it should be legal to burn things on other people's property to intimidate them? You think I should be able to set a pig's head on fire on your front porch, without your permission, to send you a message?
#18
Old 08-31-2014, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Very true... But I want to make sure to protect the right to be a jerk. I hate everything Rush Limbaugh says...but I will (holding my nose) fight to protect his right to say it. If jerkish speech is not protected...then you may be sure, someone will come forward and claim that any given speech is "jerkish."
Absolutely. Right there with ya. I'll bring some noseplugs to share.
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