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Once you spend as much time worrying about the Flag Amendment as I do, you start to notice the flag a little more often. I see the flag flying over the auto shop near my work - tattered and sooty, flying all night. Is that desecration? And I see references to flag burning show up in the craziest spots. And, sometimes, seeing these makes me wonder if this debate will ever end, even if the amendment dies permanently. For your pleasure, I present:

Flag Desecration in Popular Culture

How to Burn an American Flag
by Paul Sannerud

This play, by a Cornell College theater professor, was inspired by this very page! It opened to rave reviews, and is sure to provoke discussion and controversy wherever it runs. The first 5 scenes are reprinted on this page, as is a review of opening night.

The Simpsons - I'm an Amendment-to-be
In a brilliant parody of the Schoolhouse Rock classic "I'm Just a Bill," a recent episode of the Simpsons featured an anthropomorphic Flag Protection Amendment singing about flag burners having too much freedom.

The Phoenix Art Museum
Old Glory: The American Flag in Contemporary Art
March 16 - June 16, 1996
The most controversial art exhibit the Phoenix Art Museum has had to date, Old Glory showcases the work of more than fifty artists, including What is the Proper Way to Display the US Flag? by Dread Scott. The exhibit includes controversial and scathing pieces from the 1970 People's Flag Show. The museum has been picketed by Veterans, and threatened with arrest and closure by the State legislature (who were reminded by the Phoenix City Prosecutor that such an arrest would be unconstitutional.) If the amendment had passed, the curator, several museum members (including myself), and most of the artists involved would have been arrested. Interestingly, some of those artists didn't even know that their work was involved.
Here are some links to websites that offer more information on the exhibit. (some of them were direct links to the newspapers, and degraded over time. I managed to save some of them in PDF format, so now they're all located on my server.)

The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy
Satanic Reverses

A downloadable sound clip and sections of lyrics from one of rap's most politically aware groups.

Rage Against the Machine
Censored on Saturday Night Live

for (among other things) using upside-down flags as decorations. Read the whole story on what happened, as reported in the RATM FAQ.

Et Cetera

Reported by the Associated Press on 3-23-97, American Indian artist Steven Leyba experienced first-hand governmental censorship of his work, Wounded Knee Decomposition I, which was on display in an Albuquerque art gallery. The mixed-media work, which commemorates the 1890 massacre in South Dakota, includes two mutilated American flags. City officials asked the artist to remove it from public view, and when he refused, they erected a partition to cover it from view. The artwork was eventually moved, and the partition was taken down. Another fine example of an obtrusive government meddling in affairs which would be better decided by healthy public debate.

Back to the Flag Burning Page

Warren S. Apel