[Masthead] Unknown Precip ~ 37°F  
High: 47°F ~ Low: 32°F
Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017

They Burned My Flag

Posted Thursday, March 3, 2011, at 12:42 AM

I had the occasion to return to Southeast Missouri where I am originally from several weeks ago and visit with my family and my new granddaughter. I was greeted by the giant American flag flying at the sports complex as I drove into town. I was proud to see the reminder of what America stands for soaring as it flew atop the hundred foot flag pole. The flag itself is about fifty feet by twenty-five feet in size.

While I was visiting at my daughters house a neighbor who stopped by to visit told us that some men were standing on the corner of the street uptown passing out bulletins asking people to join them for the burning of the American flag that was to take place that night. There was nothing wrong with the flag that I could see as I drove into town. A Little later I drove uptown to find out what was going on.

When I arrived at the site of the gathering I say eight men standing on the sidewalk and walking out into the street at the stop sign handing out literature about the planned event. I saw something that I hadn't seen in twenty five years.

There they were, the modern day representatives of Nathan Bedford Forrest recruiting members for the local klavern resurrecting the American Third Reich of the Knights of the Invisible Empire better know and the Ku Klux Klan.

The Klansmen were the center of attention of the local newspaper, the big city television stations and elated that their message would be broadcast to the world generating renewed interest in the group. Of course local representative of our national intelligence organizations were also in attendance observing the Klan exercising the First Amendment right of freedom of speech. The local bystanders were mixed in their interest and reactions to the Klansmen. Some in agreement, some angry enough and threatening to resort to violence to stop what they perceive as the epitome of Anti-American values.

I thought that I had seen the last of the Klan rallies in 1986 when a preacher of the local Pentecost church in Foley Alabama led the push to stop the Klan from burning three crosses each year in the city park at Christmas. Rev. Paul Wiley did literally risk his life as he spoke at the "Christmas Festival" planning group telling them that the three crosses that they were planning to burn in the park were icons of the Christian religion that represented Grace, Sacrifice and Forgiveness and "Will Not be turned into a public statement of shame as long as he was alive." His words "as long as he was alive" was the relevant statement that the Klan was in agreement with.

There are many problems with organizations like the Ku Klux Klan some of them I feel necessary to mention. One, there is no one KKK. The Klan has fragmented into more than 40 separate factions of varying sizes across the nation. Without a unified leadership some factions commit acts that should bring condemnation but when claimed it was necessary in fulfilling Klan constitutions, bylaws or Imperial commands the other factions unite in their defense of the actions committed in it's name. In order to become a Klansman a person is required to take an oath swearing absolute allegiance to the Klan and it's leadership. It binds men to obey unconditionally laws they know nothing about and laws that might be enacted in the future. The Klan member places allegiance to the Ku Klux Klan ahead of allegiance to the government of the United States. The Klan acknowledges mob rule and the use of methods carrying out it's view contrary to the laws of the land. Also, the five tenets of the oath of the Ku Klux Klan sound like many of the oaths and pledges of a lot of fraternal organizations except the local college fraternity usually doesn't participate in burning, bombing, hangings and other varied forms of murder preceding of after the local homecoming

I've seen it and it is a frightening thought that the largest terrorist-hate group in America is rising again to create change in America thorough extra ordinary means. Of all the enemies of this country I can say without hesitation that the Ku Klux Klan is a perfect example mentioned in the oath of office of the President of the United States to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies Foreign and Domestic.

Not only does the Ku Klux Klan spew hatred of African Americans, Catholics and Jews one of their original espoused hatred of immigrants defiling their concept of 'One Hundred Percent American" is now being embraced by people who in the past largely ignored them.

I think the most troublesome thing that really bothered me was the small child dressed up like his daddy. Yet another generation to carry on the old family tradition.

I'm John Q.

What Do You Think?

Showing most recent comments first
[Show in chronological order instead]

It has been, at times, particularly in the deep south, but not only there, that the greater grievance has been the failure of the justice system to do their duty to punish those who crossed the boundary from free speech to criminal activity.

Transgressions by the Klan, and other such entities, would have been sharply curtailed had not the legal system been in league with them.

John Q. I have great respect for you, and the interesting topics you bring to your blog. Not that it really matters, but any disagreements I have with you are usually focused on nuance, as opposed to disagreeing with your basic position.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 10:59 AM

OKR, what I know about the KLAN by living in communities where they existed is that it doesn't take long after a free speech comment or suggestion is made that some of them will take it to heart and act. I applaud your steadfast stand for freedom of speech as I agree with your position. It's just a tragedy that that Constitutional right is sometimes abused in conspiracies to commit horrendous crimes.

-- Posted by John Q. on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 10:30 AM

Assault, battery, libel, and slander are crimes distinguishable from free speech, and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

J. Q. once those that you describe as "lawless" are just that, but only when they step beyond free speech.

I don't think anyone here is failing to attempt to distinguish free speech from criminal behavior.

Folks may wear white robes, and burn crosses at a private venue where they are not trespassing. Folks may not engage in the same behavior on someone's lawn in the dark of the night.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 11:59 PM

MrXray, Where does free speech end and trying to incite a riot begin? Too many times that is term that would be made during the destruction of homes and businesses by a lawless group. Those who would participate in such acts could be described as animals. No more and no less are those who walk around in robes with pointy hats and are will to kill or maim people and destroy lives all in the name of 100% Americanism.

-- Posted by John Q. on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 3:37 PM

Good to see your libertarian colors flying X-ray. I concur with your expression regarding limitations on freedom of speech.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Sun, Mar 13, 2011, at 1:04 PM

A little background. I served in the active duty Army, my father and Uncles served in WWII and Korean war eras, some in combat, some between years of war. My son just returned from Afghanistan. I hate the Westboro Church and its actions simply because their distortion of what they refer to as religion. I think that people belonging to the KKK or other organizations such as the New Black Panters are ALL wrong because they do NOT stand up for realistic values and are mostly HATE groups based on ideals that fall outside common sense and outside of reality.

I think that we have to have the ability to exercise our freedom of speech, even for wacked out groups that 99% of our population disagree with and hate and find apalling. IF we take the first step to accept an infringement on this right then each subsequent step at limiting speech will be easier and have less resistance until we are left with Government mandated definitions of what speech is acceptable and what speech is not. Do we want a nation where the government can shut down the internet our our internet access simply because the politicians in power do not like what I am saying?

-- Posted by mrxray on Sat, Mar 12, 2011, at 3:31 PM


I hear you. I think the reason we arent screaming from the core of our beings is that we are continually shocked by the fact that we actually need to tell a grown adult that they are going to have to get along with people who may disagree with them or have different cultural values that may rub against theirs.

it blows my mind that people actually think that we can have divisions on the basis of religion, color, political views, or region of origin.

Pick up any objective record of history that spans more than 100 years and see how seperation works as a policy. is anybody here old enough to rememnber Birmingham Alabama?

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Fri, Mar 11, 2011, at 9:36 AM

Today hate speech is promoted in mainstream media by folks like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and most at Fox News. Its usually tied into some political issue to give it creedence and to promote this divisiveness along political lines.

Here in Missouri the voters voted in Roy Blunt who has ties to a group CCC in which part of their motto is to keep the races from mixing. So even though most of us speak out against this type of behavior we dont speak LOUD ENOUGH!


-- Posted by cheesehead on Tue, Mar 8, 2011, at 11:06 AM

how come only the most ridiculous and outlandish garbage, spewed forth by the biggest idiots is the stuff that makes news?

does the old anicdote:"if it bleeds it leads" really hold true? I would like to think otherwise but I dont hold out much hope.

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 3:18 PM

our major concern shouldn`t be that it is legal to mock a fallen soldier at his own funeral, in front of the people who love(d)him most, with some of the most Vile and disgusting sentiments and chants available in the English language.

our concern should be that he is dead on the orders of a government that honors the soldier at home and treats him with the upmost respect with one hand and with the other disgraces him by sending him to kill or be killed in the name of oil, or political might, or most revolting of all FLAT OUT LIES!

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 3:14 PM

If I confronted those sick, perverted wretches that make up the Westboro Baptist Church, I would roar at the top of my lungs that they should drop to their knees, and immediately thank their God for the opportunity to live in a country where they are free to say whatever they wish instead of illogically condemning the United States of America that gives them the very freedom to speak what they believe. Where else are they going to find that?

It does surprise me that Baptists do not show up by the thousands at their every appearance, to show the nation that these creatures are not Baptists, and that Baptists condemn their position. The lack of such demonstration could be construed as silent approval. I wonder if Baptists would not respond, under their banner, in greater numbers if some small sect calling themselves Baptist, with a Baptist banner, was publically, vociferously, and graphically advocating homosexual relations?

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 1:03 AM

Cheetah it's all good.

I probably go a little more radical on free speech issues than most folks on the left or the right.

It is to me our most precious freedom, and I choose to look at all other remedies long, and hard, (especially counter free speech) before taking that right from anyone, even those who stand on a soap box, glorify Hitler, and avow that the holocaust never happened, even those worse than that. To me unimpeded hate speech is the most positive proof that we have genuine free speech.

The problem to me is that if someone, or some group has the power to decide what portion of our free speech is to remain, and what is to be curtailed, how can we be certain that there will not be mistakes made by the deciders bending to the force of powerful social currents, in certain circumstances? I believe enforcement of laws as they exist afford us adequate legal remedy, especially when combined with the use of social remedy available to an engaged, and informed citizenry.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Mon, Mar 7, 2011, at 12:34 AM

Yes Cathy the group eventually ended their demonstration and proceeded to some private property belonging to one of the Klan members and burned both an American flag and a cross at a night gathering. The demonstration was the result of complaints raised because one of the Klansmen flies the Stars and Bars on his property. The large flag at the sports complex was not molested. It can only be raised and lowered by a mechanical device to keep it secure and out of reach.

-- Posted by John Q. on Sat, Mar 5, 2011, at 7:50 AM

SC you said "These men and women (justices), took an oath with their hand on a bible. That bible clearly states in several places that the actions and attitudes of these groups are wrong on every level."

I just wanted to make clear that the Bible is used by the Justices only as a symbolic tool to affirm the veracity of their pledge. They do not swear to uphold the content of the bible, just the content of the Constitution. The Justices can not, or at least, should not, use anything other than the Constitution, its appendages, and precedent of settled law, to determine the limits of free speech. So, happily in my opinion, what the bible says in regard to ugly speech is irrelevant to any legal decision they make as to the limits of speech. In my opinion such separation is an intended result caused by the framers of our Constitution.

Again, this is no more than my opinion, but I believe the ultimate remedy to these bizarre hate mongers is muffling their message with very loud counter free speech, and the age old remedy of shunning. Whether by the roar of Harleys, fervently sung hymns, or the caterwauling of an angry mob, it is all legal, and will surely mute their relatively weak voice.

We do not have to wait for a court to bar their activity. We as citizens too often sit back, and wait for an ultimate decree as it slowly winds its way through the court system. Then if disatisfied with the result, we carp, ignoring our own earlier opportunity for more expedient action. We should consider our failure to proactively use our own freedom of speech. Should we reconsider, and act, it would be a shining moment for the American citizenry.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 11:52 PM

John, you didn't say if the flag was actually burned - just that it was the plan. Did the people you saw talking about really do it?

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 9:20 PM


I agree with your feelings toward Phelps, the KKK, and other hate groups but for a different reason.

Everyone seems to have gotten the impression somehow that since we have the first ammendment to the constitution, that means anything goes.

This, of course, is not true. Freedom of speech does not mean you are free to slander, or commit libel, against another. You are not free to incite riots or induce others to commit crimes with your speech. You are not free to create dangerous situations with your 'free speech' (no shouting fire in a crowded theater). There are also many precidents set against hate crimes, including hate speech against race, creed, or color.

So in my view, we have many good examples of where totally 'free speech' does more harm than good. I can not see where spewing hate speech and calling for the death of others who do not agree with you does not fall in the category of harmful speech. I am baffled by the Phelps ruling, and that he, or the Klan for that matter, are free to continue down their hateful, dangerous paths.

Where do these justices think the incentive for the nut-job in Arizona to kill what he thought were his enimies came from? How many idiots are going to mouth off about shooting Obama before somebody decides it's ok to go ahead?

Sad times in America are here in my opinion. My generation seems to have lost sight of logic and reason. "Truthiness" reigns supreme.

It is the age of "the constitution doesn't say I can't say 'God Hates Fags' so it's all ok" and other such drivel. Or, one of my favorites, "you can't prove I'm lying so I must be telling the truth."

The constitution also doesn't say that rich dudes can't buy politicians, so that must be ok too. After all, it's thier right to 'free speech' that was the basis for that decision.

What a bunch of idiots we, meaning all Americans on either side of any issue, have become. Loophole logic has created an environment where everything is decided based on the exception, or the fringe, not the greater good.

We boomers have always been really good at streching the rules and finding the exception. We have always thought we were a clever bunch, but now our chickens are coming home to roost, I fear.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 5:18 PM

Unforunatly our consitution gives everyone the freedom to say pretty much what is on their mind, we as a civial and I use that term loosly socity need to determine for our selves whether or not their B.S. is worth listening to or not. If it isn't then go on your merry little way and let them talk to the wind.

-- Posted by midniterebel on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 3:10 PM

there alot more power with the educated and openminded people of the world because they have the ability (not always exercised) to see things as they are not as they have been presented.

as the ignorant and hateful rise and spew their bile we have to banish this darkness not with violence but truth and education/information.

nobody with accurate info and a knowlege of world economics can see a functional future where hate is common place.

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Fri, Mar 4, 2011, at 9:43 AM

Another sign of the apocalypse brewing in America.


So, apparently if you are in a town hall meeting hosted by a Republican congressman in Georgia, you can make threatening remarks against the president and the result is laughter, not arrest, not even emmbarassment.

I reckon we going to sit back and consider this free speech also? Especially in light of the shooting of Representative Giffords.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 4:39 PM

Jeeez! I hate to aggree with John Q and Smart dog at the same time but fellas..... you guys hit the nail on the head, squarely, and plenty hard.

good work.

-- Posted by BigFatGuy on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 3:03 PM

Smart Dog you said "I see the decline of America happening, but it sure ain't porn and teenage sex that is bringing us down. It is the divisiveness of modern politics and the promotion of hate that will be our undoing." To that I will say AMEN.

-- Posted by John Q. on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 12:35 PM

When, exactly, did our judicial system in America loose the ability to tell right from wrong?

This story of the KKK, and thier apparent "right to exist" reminds me of Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church's "right to free speech." Hogwash.

Hate speech, whether against gays or blacks or immigrants, has no place in our society. I think most reasonable folks can see this so why can't our judges and legislators?

I am all for questioning authority, and allowing for dissenting opinions in our democracy, but we seem to be promoting hate, and in some cases violence, in our country against anyone who does not share our particular views on what constitutes life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Let's face it, just about anybody who is honest will tell you that they have heard at least one person make some sort of racist or even more threatening remark about our current president.

When did our supposed "moral compass" become so misdirected that people who call themselves "family values christians" allow thier friends and neighbors a pass on support for the KKK or a call to assasinate our nations first black president?

I see the decline of America happening, but it sure ain't porn and teenage sex that is bringing us down. It is the divisiveness of modern politics and the promotion of hate that will be our undoing.

-- Posted by Smart Dog on Thu, Mar 3, 2011, at 10:15 AM

Respond to this blog

Posting a comment requires free registration:

John Q. Public
Recent posts
Blog RSS feed [Feed icon]
Comments RSS feed [Feed icon]
Larry Maxwell is a retired businessman who often writes about topics related to faith and religion.
Hot topics
A Nation Divided
(6 ~ 12:28 PM, May 7)

Politicians Promises & Money
(10 ~ 10:32 AM, Sep 27)

The Checks In The Mail
(2 ~ 7:32 AM, Apr 17)

Separation of Church & State
(42 ~ 3:38 PM, Mar 27)

They Burned My Flag
(37 ~ 10:59 AM, Mar 15)