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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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. 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.
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.
This is Gizmo again from PA. My article was printed in July 2014 in Black and Pink. A LOT has happened since I wrote that article.
First of all, I found out that I do not have HIV! The prison, where the test was done, made a mistake! Either that or a damned good miracle has occurred! Either way, I’m so grateful I am not HIV positive, but my heart goes out to those who have HIV and AIDS.
Even so, I am in a very dark place right now- the Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) in Pennsylvania. Every State inmate in Pennsylvania enters this prison at one time in their sentence – the RHU is the worst in the state. My cell is infested with cockroaches and mice no matter how clean I keep it. The CO’s treat me like shit. My cell is VERY tiny I look forward to go to my home jail. Someone wrote this inspiring graffiti on the desk in my cell that says “Hard Times Don’t Last!” My family, we as LGBTQ inmates, we have it hard in prison, but remember that hard times don’t last. Good times are ahead. We need to stick together now more than ever! There is a saying that I learned in Rehab once, and I think it can apply to the LGBTQ community – “As long as the ties that bind us together are stronger than those that would tear us apart, ALL WILL BE WELL!” Brothers and sisters, WE ARE FAMILY! We need to stick together no matter WHAT!
Family, I love you all, don’t forget that! Every single one of you is loved! Peace out!
Tom AKA Gizmo, PA
Greetings & Salutations to all my B&P Family!
My name is Diamond & I am a 34 y/o Gay Black Male, currently serving a 4 to 10 year sentence for robbery. After being down for 3 years and 1 month, I have only 11 months remaining before I go to my Parole Hearing. So I ask all of you to pray for my strength in completing the duration of my sentence.
The reason why I am reaching out to all of you is to inform you of what happened to me recently. After working for 2 weeks in Culinary, I was told by my unit’s coworker that because of a “medical restriction” I will be unassigned from my position in the kitchen. Now, for those of you who don’t understand what that means; it means that because I am HIV Positive, I cannot work in the kitchen, When I got the news that I was fired because of my health status, I was appalled to say the least because when I went to Classifications for the job, the Prison Administrators knew I was HIV Positive before they hired me.
I’m not really sure how to feel about all of this because I don’t know if my rights were violated or if I was discriminated against, but all of this screams “unconstitutional” to me.
I live in Las Vegas where people living with HIV handle food all the time on their jobs, so why is it so different in Prison? If in fact the Prison Administrators didn’t want me to handle the food, they could have easily placed me in another position like Pots and Pans or cleaning trays in the Clipper Room versus taking away my job entirely.
This is emotionally and mentally disturbing because I’ve never experienced anything like this before and I never thought I would have to.
I am so grateful to have a partner/lover who knows my status, accepts me as I am, and always does his best to support every decision I make. He is helping me go through the Grievance Process at this time because something needs to be done. Thank you J. I love you more than you will ever know.
I ask all of you to keep me in your prayers and if you know anything that can help me legally please let me know. In the meantime I will do my best to keep everyone in the loop.
To all my brothers and sisters living with HIV and AIDS, you are not alone nor forgotten. We are one step closer to our cure.
In Love and Solidarity,
“See The Beauty in Your Freedom”
Being in prison is not easy for anyone. But being a transgender in prison is even tougher. There are very few of us transwomen and we are discriminated against more so than the other inmates.
For the most part it is a mental game. To still be called gay, fag, queer, homosexual, sir or man is disgusting. It goes against everything I believe in about who I am. This is not just by inmates, but staff as well. We are not given good jobs. We are totally looked down upon just because of our gender identity. That being said, I have taken the responsibility upon myself to be a voice for those who let themselves be silenced. I believe that no matter where I am or who I am, I have the right to be heard as an equal.
To be bullied, raped or suffer constant mental anguish is not healthy. Because I have been a victim of those things in my life, doesn’t mean I will allow it to make me hide in a corner. Being transgender in prison or the free world, you have to allow yourself to be free of negative, hateful, and angry people. I say to those people, I won’t be bullied into silence for who I am.
To all my sisters who feel like giving up. We live in a beautiful world. Allow yourself to see the beauty in your freedom.
Dear Black and Pink,
Hey, hey to all my LGBT family! How is everyone out there in the prison system doing? I pray all of you are hanging in there and keeping your heads held high. Remember don’t let them break you. Stay strong.
Well I’m writing to the newspaper to remember a fallen LGBT family member. Roughly a month and a half ago at the county jail I’m in, an inmate who was gay known as Pat took his own life. You know, being gay myself too, hearing about anyone taking their life is sad, but when someone who’s LGBT takes their life, it hurts a little more.
I’ve been in prison now eight and a half years, and I’ve been at this county jail for 2 months and I’ve heard of many inmates dying, but this is my first time hearing about a gay inmate dying. I didn’t know Pat at all but I wish I had because I would have tried to talk to him and to be a friend.
Today I spoke to a female correctional officer about Pat and just hearing about the things he dealt with and the harassment he suffered just brings tears to my eyes. When I was in a different prison before this jail, I used to get harassed 24/7 by other prisoners and by correctional officers and when I fought back it just got worse. When I got here, a few inmates harassed me but I have had to put on a facade so other inmates won’t harass me or bully me. On a daily basis I walk around like I’m some gangster thug when in truth I am so girly and feminine. Anyways in closing this letter I ask all my LGBT family members to keep Pat in their hearts and prayers, please.
Yasin AKA Mikala, VT
I hope this note finds you as well as possible. As you notice we are running things a little behind, but appreciate your patience with us. As I write this letter people all over social media and in the news are celebrating the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. I want to first recognize and honor the joy that many people are experiencing. There are those who have dedicated countless hours to this fight and who feel like this ruling allows them to feel more whole. I also want to recognize those who have written to Black and Pink looking for advice on how to marry their lovers in prison. I hope that this ruling does provide some relief to you.
To be honest, the Supreme Court ruling is not providing much relief for me. We have shared many things over the years in the newspaper about how same-sex marriage will not secure LGBTQ liberation. I found myself particularly annoyed at Justice Kennedy’s closing paragraph in the ruling today. He wrote, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death… Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
What is it, do you think, that makes marriage the most profound union? What about this state sanctioned relationship do you think holds the highest ideals of love, sacrifice, and family? And why do you think people who are unmarried are somehow condemned to loneliness? Do you agree with Justice Kennedy’s assessment of marriage? As I think back to much of the writing we have seen in the Black and Pink newspaper it does not seem as though marriage would end the loneliness and suffering of solitary confinement. It does not seem to me that the union of marriage would somehow improve access to wages and money for LGBTQ prisoners. It does, however, seem to me that we have incredible love, sacrifice, and family amongst our Black and Pink community without the state recognizing the relationships we have created. Through sharing stories, telling our truths, and expressing support for one another we are creating alternatives to the limitations of marriage. Justice Kennedy highlights marriage as one of civilization’s oldest institutions as though it’s history makes it inherently good, but we know that incarceration and other forms of punishment are also long standing institutions. An institution’s long presence in society certainly does not mean we should be jumping on board.
There are those who are saying that now the same-sex marriage fight is (hopefully) over, that now there should be more funding available for other struggles. Do you think think that wealthy white gay men and lesbians are going to start redirecting money into organizing efforts like ours? I am trying to be hopeful and optimistic about that, but I am not so sure. Do you think that the people who are taking to the streets to celebrate the ruling will later go home and write letters to LGBTQ prisoner pen pals? I bet that some are, but in reality it is a very small number. How do you think we can redirect energy to concern for LGBTQ prisoners, who are primarily poor people and people of color? What should Black & Pink be doing to harness some new power? I can tell you that we did just do a fundraiser for people who are watching Orange is the New Black to donate money to an organization for every episode of the show they watch. This “viewer solidarity fund,” as we titled it, has generated about $5,000 spread across a few organizations working with trans/cis women and/or LGBTQ prisoners. Efforts like this help us get some attention and focus directed towards actual people in prison.
As some people celebrate same-sex marriage, we know that the struggle continues. We know that there are concrete and steel walls that still need to come down. This Pride month we remember our foremothers who threw bottles and high heels at the cops outside the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in NYC in 1969. We keep fighting knowing that once there were no prisons, that day will come again.
In loving solidarity,
Bild: Intersex-Protest gegen IGM-Praktiken im Kinderspital Zürich, 08.06.2013 >>> Video
Die Zwitter Medien
Offensive™ geht weiter!
Artikel von Katrin Meier (PDF) über die sensationellen
Bestrebungen des Kispi für eine historische Aufarabeitung von
Intersex-Genitalverstümmelungen, prominent aufgemacht auf der fast ganzen 1.
Seite des 2. Bundes in der Zürcher Regionalzeitungen (u.a. "Landbote",
"Unterländer", "Zürichseezeitung") und mit Interview-Beiträgen von Daniela
Truffer (Zwischengeschlecht.org) und Kispi-Kinderchirurgin Rita Gobet.
Von diesem Blog ein herzliches Dankeschön an alle Beteiligten!
NGO Report an das
Belegt 17 gebräuchliche IGM-Formen und NS-Verbrechen in CH, D, A
Intersex Genital Mutilations
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
>>> Download PDF (3.65 MB) >>> Table of Contents
von Carlos Zydorek und Jan Hedrich
Der dritte und letzte Tag der Convention begann mit einem Beitrag über die bayrische Feiertagsgesetzgebung, unter anderem gefolgt von Referaten zum Dschihad in Afrika sowie einem Vergleich der "gottlosen" Verfassung der USA mit der tatsächlichen Verquickung von Staat und Religion und der daraus resultierenden Tätigkeit der "Freedom From Religion Foundation" (FFRF).
Auf die besondere Feiertagsgesetzgebung in deutschen Bundesländern und im Speziellen in Bayern machte Assunta Tammelleo vom "Bund für Geistesfreiheit" (bfg) München aufmerksam.
Zunächst stellte sie dar, dass an den sogenannten stillen Feiertagen, wie beispielsweise an Karfreitag, öffentliche Tanzveranstaltungen gesetzlich verboten seien, selbst wenn sie in geschlossenen Räumen stattfänden und alle üblichen Lärmauflagen einhielten. Um gegen diese den Anders- und Nichtgläubigen gegenüber intoleranten Vorschriften vorzugehen, habe sich der bfg 2007 entschlossen, an Karfreitag eine "Religionsfreie Zone" einzurichten, um ein Bußgeldverfahren zu provozieren. Dies sei die notwendige Voraussetzung, um als betroffene Organisation gegen die Feiertagsgesetzgebung zu klagen. Eine besondere Herausforderung sei gewesen, angesichts hunderter anderer illegaler Feiern auf sich aufmerksam zu machen. Dank der Empörung der katholischen Kirche (die Religionsfreie Zone käme einer "Aufforderung zum Rammeln" gleich) sei es gelungen, die Höchststrafe von 10.000 Euro bei Zuwiderhandlungen gegen die Vorschriften angedroht zu bekommen. Und tatsächlich folgte ein Bußgeldbescheid von 300 Euro. Damit habe sich der bfg durch die Instanzen bis zum Bundesverfassungsgericht geklagt, wo die Feststellungsklage bereits seit 2010 aus unerfindlichen Gründen ruhe.
Tammeleo gab abschließend zu bedenken, dass auch angesichts der zahlreichen übrigen Tage im Jahr, an denen kein Tanzverbot bestehe, solche religiös motivierten Vorschriften einen Weg für Forderungen anderer Religionsgemeinschaften vorzeichneten, ihrerseits eigene Feiertage gesetzlich schützen zu lassen. In Bayern gebe es sogar immer wieder Versuche, die restriktive Gesetzgebung noch weiter auszubauen.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
"Basically the price of a night on the town!"
"I'd love to help kickstart continued development! And 0 EUR/month really does make fiscal sense too... maybe I'll even get a shirt?" (there will be limited edition shirts for two and other goodies for each supporter as soon as we sold the 200)