Flag Protector Desecrates the Flag Herself

That former Air Force veteran who stole someone else’s flag to stop them from stepping on it in protest at Valdosta State University violated the U.S. Flag Code herself by posing for Playboy with an American flag hiding her naughty bits while it fell to the ground.

Manhart quit the Air Force in 2008 rather than accept a demotion for violating the standards expected of military personnel after posing nude for Playboy while draped in an American flag.

The photos show a fully nude Manhart covering her nipples with her arms, while a folded American flag she is holding covers the lower portions of her body and unfurls onto the ground.

“The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise,” states the U.S. Flag Code.

The Flag Code also prohibits wearing the flag as clothing, and the photo shoot apparently violates a prohibition against drawing up the flag up into folds.

I could not care less about her posing for Playboy, of course, nor do I think the Air Force should have done a damn thing about it. But what this points out, as if we needed more evidence, is that it isn’t the “desecration” of the flag that the uber-patriots are bothered by, it’s the message of the protest they want to squash. That’s why they flip out about flag burning when the flag code says that burning is the only acceptable means of disposing of the flag. So it isn’t burning the flag that bothers them, it’s burning the flag in protest. It’s the viewpoint they want censored, not the physical act of burning the flag or laying it on the ground.

And then there’s this dimwitted statement:

Manhart explained to Fox News that she stopped the student demonstrators from disrespecting “an iconic symbol of freedom.”

“If you are going to fight for a cause and use the First Amendment — how are you going to stomp and trample the icon that gives you that right?” she said.

No, you dolt, the icon does not give anyone that right. The Constitution does. But as usual, the uber-patriots would rather trample on the Constitution to protect the flag rather than the other way around.

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  • roggg

    Defending an icon of freedom by trampling another’s first amendment rights. The irony is astounding. You cant make this shit up.

  • StevoR

    ..as usual, the uber-patriots would rather trample on the Constitution to protect the flag rather than the other way around.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with trampling on the constitution either as long as you do that literally and not metaphorically.

  • StevoR

    Huh? Where did my blockquote go?

    Oh well.

    Ed Brayton I wish you had an equivalent of the Pharyngula “Lounge / Thunderdome” threads here for off topic info /conversations etc .. so I could mention this and see what folks think of it :

    http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/agony/LE1447V002S00

  • abb3w

    It looks like RawStory and some other outlets have one detail incorrect — the flag-related images were not part of the Playboy pictorial, but a second nude photo shoot that Manhart did for PETA. Not all the media is conflating the two — some outlets, such as the Air Force Times note which one involved the flag images.

    Those who want the prurient details of what the Playboy shoot did show (and it’s lack of flag code offenses) can go track down a copy of the February 2007 issue; however, the full PETA shoot doesn’t turn up easily with Google.

  • militantagnostic

    @abb3w

    the full PETA shoot doesn’t turn up easily with Google

    A youtube video about the PETA shoot showed up after I viewed the video in Ed’s previous post about this. I didn’t click on it so I don’t know what it shows.

  • A Masked Avenger

    The flag code is un-American. If you can’t use the flag as a garment, then how are you supposed to wrap yourself in it, like any good patriotic American should?

  • gog

    StevoR #2

    Not that there’s anything wrong with trampling on the constitution either as long as you do that literally and not metaphorically.

    I thought about that for a second and considered whether it’s a good idea to damage or destroy the original document, but then I realized that the contents of the document are preserved in hard copy and digitally and always available to anybody that at the very least can get to a library. The original document is nothing more than a symbol itself.

  • gog

    @StevoR #3

    Can’t watch that from an IP address not originating in Australia, I’m afraid.

  • dingojack

    gog – I tried looking on youtube, but I can only get a (not very enlightening) trailer. I’ll try again tomorrow.

    Dingo

  • http://umlud.blogspot.com umlud

    In 2012, I wrote about how all the hand-wringing by uberpatriots about breaking the flag code was so hypocritical when you recognize that a lot of what the uberpatriots do with the flag … is a violation of the flag code.

    Yeah, the flag code is silly and a great example of archaic notions of respect to a piece of fabric, but as much as I think that it’s silly, if you’re going to cite the flag code as the basis for determining respect or non-respect, at least actually be consitent with the damned thing.

    Of course, the uberpatriots are being consistent in one thing: they are as inadherent to the entirety of the flag code as they are to the entirety of the constitution and the entirety of the bible… Whatever they feel is the appropriate interpretation is all that matters, even if what they think is not actually in the document.

  • Michael Heath

    Michelle Manhart:

    If you are going to fight for a cause and use the First Amendment — how are you going to stomp and trample the icon that gives you that right?

    Ed responds:

    No, you dolt, the icon does not give anyone that right. The Constitution does.

    Both are wrong. The Constitution doesn’t give us our rights, instead it obligates the government to protect the exercise of some of our rights.

    A typical person, citizen or not, desecrating the U.S. flag inside our jurisdiction as an expression of political speech is one of those rights where the government is obligated to protect that expression. Of course there are limits to this sort of government protection; you can’t risk burning people nearby. Of course we don’t all get such protections all the time, a military officer on duty.

  • http://umlud.blogspot.com umlud

    Seems that there is an “American Flag Wall of Shame” where people e-mail in their examples of violations of the flag code. It includes a number of likely uberpatriots, shows of respect that violate the flag code, and the like.

    http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/wallofshame.htm

    The latest entry seems to be from 2011, though, so perhaps they gave it up as too difficult a task to continue, given how frequently everyone just ignores most of what the Flag Code says and (apparently) makes up the rest.

  • Skip White

    The hypocrisy about disrespecting the flag reminds me of a truck I was driving behind one time. It had those cheesy graphics that cover the whole rear window, and – I kid you not – the graphic was of a bald eagle wearing an American flag bandana on its head, with a background of another American flag.

  • theguy

    “If you are going to fight for a cause and use the First Amendment — how are you going to stomp and trample the icon that gives you that right?”

    Gee, I see right-wing “patriots” all the time who use their free speech rights to argue against free speech because some people blaspheme or say it’s okay to be gay.

  • Chiroptera

    Man, all this screaming because someone was stepping on a glorified beach towel.

  • sabrekgb

    @6

    I’d argue that the flag code is not un-american. It is law, but there is no penalty prescribed. Much like the Code of the Pirate Bretheren, “the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules” (1) In this, it is an official suggestion, and provides the officially ‘correct’ methods for treatment of a national symbol. To make it binding in general would indeed be unamerican…but to have such a (unbinding) code is not.

  • sabrekgb