They didn’t mean to, but there it is: Flag displays not in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code at every turn — flag desecration! Or, as Power Line titles it, “A Minnesota 4th of July.” You can see the slide show here. I point out some Flag Code violations in a slide-by-slide list, after the fold.
No, I’m not calling for the Sheriff of Buncombe County, North Carolina, to dispatch his deputies to arrest everyone in Apple Valley, Minnesota, who participated in the 2004 4th of July Parade — not even if they are Ron Paul supporters (in 2004, who knew?). Heck, we’d need to do the same for Duncanville, Texas (I was there; I probably still have some photographs somewhere), and probably for Provo, Utah (“the nation’s biggest Freedom Day celebration”) and Prescott, Arizona, and 15,000 other towns in America where citizens turn out on the celebration for our Declaration of Independence and have a parade. Of course, most of those towns are not fettered with North Carolina’s outdated and uconstitutional flag desecration law, either.
Fact is, most people are not too familiar with the U.S. Flag Code, and in their attempts to have a good time and celebrate the good stuff in and of this nation, they sometimes do not hew to the Flag Code’s call.
Which means simply that we need to do a better job of educating citizens on how to respect their flag and display it respectfully; and it also means we shouldn’t get all worked up whenever someone screams “FLAG DESECRATION!” to alarm us and make us rally around George Bush (who, as we saw in the last post, needs some Flag Code education for himself).
To his credit, Scott Johnson at Power Line is not a huge backer of flag desecration amendments to the Constitution. Nor are the other two contributors at PowerLine, except for their frequent complaint that the First Amendment “protects flag burning and nude dancing” but not whatever it is they want to rant about at that moment.
But if these über patriots think all this Flag Code bustin’ is good patriotism, where does a deputy in Asheville, North Carolina, get off telling people they can’t use the flag in their protest? Isn’t that THE core value the flag stands for, that citizens can protest?
Or, is it really true that the Bush defenders have politicized the nation so badly that only some political statements are protected by the First Amendment? We, our people, fought King George III to win the right to speak our minds. We shouldn’t yield to anyone that right won with the blood of patriots.
Flag Code violations shown in the slides:
1. Slide 1: No violations here. The Apple Valley American Legion Post did a fine job of leading the parade with the flag. We hope that parade viewers rose and saluted the flag as it passed, as they should have. To prevent people from popping up and down like a whack-a-mole game, we have just one such flag display in the parade, or we severely limit such displays.
2. Slide 2: Soldiers on the float — flags should not be displayed from floats in parades. Don’t they teach flag etiquette to all soldiers anymore?
3. Slide 3: Cartoon Uncle Sam, on stilts, with carrying the flag over his shoulder like a hobo’s bundle — ouch! There is no inherent problem with cartoon characters carrying flags, but this flag should be out in front of the man, carried as the American Legion carried theirs. Plus, the American Legion already honored the colors.
4. Notice that parade goers have learned not to salute the flag, so they sit without rising as they should; and we’re only three entries into the parade.
5. Slide 4: No problem — but note the campaign sign. Is this a political rally?
6. Slide 5: No problem with the band.
7. Slide 6: No problem with the cheerleaders, nor any other visible problem.
8. But you see that guy under the blue and white umbrella? I’ll wager he was wearing a shirt designed to look like the flag (see the stars on his sleeve). The Flag Code asks we not do that.
9. Slide 7: More cheerleaders — no problem
10. But see that guy near the front of the viewers, wearing the flag as a “dew rag?” Against the Code.
11. Slide 8: City of Apple Valley Fire Department, with a flag improperly attached to the rear of the vehicle. Flag Code violation.
12. Slide 9: Bicyclists — to their credit, not a visible flag attached to anyone’s handlebars in violation of the Code.
13. Slide 10: Amateur band on a flatbed — the painted decoration of the tractor comes close to a flag violation, but the flag itself is not portrayed. However, the two flags attached to the rear-view mirrors of the tractor are attached in violation of the Code.
14. Slide 11: Flatbed featuring Cub Scout Packs from Apple Valley — the leaders should have known better than to put the U.S. flag on the trailer — not allowed. See the Boy Scout publication, Your Flag, available at your local Boy Scout Council office and Scout Shops.
15. Slide 12: Small band — no problem. You can see the dew rag better in this one.
16. Slide 13: Flatbed trailer featuring local Girl Scouts. It appears they had read their own literature on flag displays.
17. Slide 14: A drum and bugle corps, the Minnesota Brass, Inc. Since they are not leading the parade, they should not be carrying a U.S. flag. Notice again, the parade patrons do not rise to pay their respects to the flag, carried out of position.
18. Slide 15: The actual drum and bugle corps players. No problems here.
19. Slide 16: The Zuhrah Shriners Oriental Band. No intention to do wrong, but count how many U.S. flags are attached to the float, all in violation of the Flag Code.
20. Slide 17: Chris Gerlach for State Senate, pickup and marching campaign workers. Note the improper display of the flag attached to the rear of the pickup, not to the right front fender. Notice also that the flag is not hanging freely, but is instead hampered by the bed of the pickup. A two-for-one violation (did he win his campaign?).
21. Slide 18: Go karts — no problem.
22. Slide 19: Congressman John Kline — are those U.S. flags improperly attached all around his vintage Ford Mustang?
23. Slide 20: Yep! You can see they are U.S. flags. Congressmen are allowed one flag, attached to a flag carrier on the right front fender, Congressman! (Did he win?)
So, there you have it, from Power Line. Flag Code violations abound, even when citizens don’t intend to. I’ll wager that the Buncombe County, North Carolina, also had several parades with as many improper displays of the U.S. flag, and we know from the news stories that no one was cited for improper display.
Which political views allow one to display the flag improperly, and which political views get citations? Who gets to judge?