This Boy Scout cartoon is on my best of list because it made me laugh as a cartoonist. That is often hard to do. I’m often trying to draw material that I think is funny or is strange or comments on something, but quite honestly after the initial idea is written down, the joke becomes work. You have to sketch it, ink it, scan it, digitally color it, size it and then save it for the web. After you’re done posting you’re just tired and you want to go on to doing something else. But sometimes there comes along a cartoon in my collection that makes me laugh every time I look at it, despite the work. This is one I never get sick of looking at.
For those patriotic Americans, this is no commentary on the flag in general, it was just meant to be a funny situation–but as usual, I will give my opinion. I believe once the symbol becomes more important than the idea it represents, the idea is lost. In other words, the American Flag represents many things, but one of them is “Freedom of Speech.” If you can’t burn the flag, then the flag can no longer represent freedom of speech. It’s something that nationalists have trouble understanding. For conservative Christians, I could put it in their terms: destroying a cross does not destroy the idea of the cross.
My dad once told me when I was in my teens and overtly Christian that he agreed with the idea of a law against flag burning. This was one of those periods in the early nineties when the subject was rather “hot” (if you’ll pardon the pun) and free speech artists were desecrating the flag in a variety of ways. Even as a Christian I argued with him on this principal. For me, burning the flag was not a sacrilege. What was sacrilege, was any limitation on freedom of speech because even as a conservative Christian I realized that banning one form of expression could result in my own form of expression being tossed out too. I’m not sure if my dad agreed with me in the end, but he did acknowledge my point. That is the great thing about my Dad. Despite his Christianity, if you made a good argument and it didn’t conflict with The Bible then he usually conceded there was room for gray areas.
Of course my hypocrisy becomes apparent here. Even though I was against limiting free speech, I was against obscenity and gay rights. What was considered to be obscene was always hard to define and I was not one to be actively stamping out porn or NC17 movies, but I didn’t speak up against banning them either. I simply stood on the sidelines and didn’t see how these people could complain if they got stopped from peddling their smut. As far as the gays, they were perverting nature and therefore they didn’t need rights, much like child molestors didn’t need rights. That’s how I thought. Unfortunately, if you’re going to be for freedom of speech you have to accept the good with the bad whether you agree with porn, extreme movies or different lifestyles amongst consenting adults. Which is why I would call out any atheist who would suggest banning or censoring any religious speech or texts.