Wednesday, May 6, 2015

So Some People Stepped On The Flag...

Good Morning Klep,

I wasn't familiar with this trend until you brought it up.  I've been super busy with work and finishing college and taking part in some selfish dude's second wedding to the same woman.  ;)  It's difficult to find any unbiased sources about the "flag stomping challenge," but here's what I can gather after doing some quick google research.

-A man named Eric Sheppard was protesting police brutality and racism at Valdosta University in Georgia by stepping on the American flag.

-Obviously, people were upset by it.

-Police found a bookbag believed to belong to Sheppard which contained a firearm.

-Sheppard went into hiding.

-In solidarity with Sheppard, a social media trend started and people began protesting by stepping on the flag, or burning it, and posting it to social media.

-There was also an online fund started to raise money for Sheppard's shelter, travel, and legal expenses.

As for what I think about it, I can't say any specific to this situation because I'm not involved or connected with any aspect of this.  But I can talk about things like free speech, tolerance, and the rights people have to protest.

As a veteran, I don't think I would want to step on the flag to protest.  But I'm also not really offended by it.  I don't identify with the flag like some patriots and veterans.  At least, not in the sense that my emotional state of mind is connected to the well-being of flags and how they're treated or displayed.  There seems to be some form of a religious obsession with nationalistic symbols, which is kind of disturbing.  It always makes me uncomfortable when I see people who are livid after seeing someone burn or mistreat a flag, because it reminds of the sort of anger you expect to see on a religious fundamentalist's face after saying something not-so-nice about their god(s) or prophet(s).

Considering some of the overlapping demographics in this case to the cartoon event in Texas that was attacked by a couple of radical Islamic militants recently, it's ironic to see some patriots promoting free speech values in the case of the cartoon, but criticizing the use of free speech by some frustrated citizens in the flag stomping case.  Free speech is, and should remain, ubiquitous.   It applies equally to civil rights activists and white supremacists.  Free speech isn't always a pretty thing, and I don't think it's intended to be pleasant.  It's intended to be useful.  It's intended to ensure--against all rhetoric or sensationalism to the contrary--that all avenues of communication remain open.  As long as free speech exists, we will continue to have vigorous and open debates.  As soon as you start limiting free speech, you inevitably start closing channels of communication.

I'm not sure if this is the answer you were looking for, but there it is.  Let me know what you think.


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