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A few thoughts on Flag Day

Today’s the anniversary of one of my favorite cases, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, which deals with saluting the flag.

I remember, as a kid, when someone told us it meant you didn’t HAVE to salute. As a rebellious kid, I saw it as another way to push back against authority.

But one day a long time ago, I read it.

It was in 1943, when Justice Jackson penned this opinion recognizing the right to refuse to salute the flag.

Here’s how the opinion ends:

“The case is made difficult not because the principles of its decision are obscure, but because the flag involved is our own. Nevertheless, we apply the limitations of the Constitution with no fear that freedom to be intellectually and spiritually diverse or even contrary will disintegrate the social organization. To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous, instead of a compulsory routine, is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to Continue reading



  • Stop the attempts to incrementally limit guns for everyone and focus on the right populations
  • Realize why these legislative attempts fail to adequately address the concerns of people on all sides of the debate
  • Proposed restrictions to make it easier to prevent prohibited persons from easily purchasing weapons

After every mass shooting, there’s a call for some kind of reform. Typically, it’s mandatory background checkssecret lists or bans on certain firearms and now there has been a lot of talk about a proposal to start using secret lists created by unaccountable bureaucracies that deny due process, all in the name of safety and security. If we are going to open this conversation for reform up again, let’s not blow it by doing what we’ve done and expecting a different result.

I have watched both sides in the “debate” try to explain their positions, with very little willingness to agree on, well, anything. Some of this is because of a lack of knowledge of culture and terminology – if you don’t understand the terms of the debate, it can be infuriating when you call for a ban or restrictions on something that won’t actually make any difference or something far beyond what you actually mean to say. Let’s say your solution is a ban on “Assault Rifles”? Imagine someone calling for a ban on “attack dogs” after a pit bull is reported to have mauled someone. When someone asks, what is an assault weapon, they aren’t (merely) being snarky, they are asking the equivalent of “what is an attack dog”?

Details matter. Continue reading