‘Patriots’ Violate Flag Code to Protest Flag ‘Desecration’

A few hundred hyper-emotional uber-patriots descended on Valdosta State University to sing Lee Greenwood and show the world how very much they care about a piece of colored cloth and how little they care for the freedom it allegedly represents. Punchline: A lot of them violated the U.S. Flag Code while doing so.

Hordes of people descended on Valdosta State University Friday afternoon, lining the streets and waving flags. Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress told the Valdosta Daily Times that thousands of people who “just want to come down here and support the American flag” were expected to be there…

The event appeared to be peaceful, with some demonstrators carrying signs in support of the military and others wearing T-shirts with the American flag and the words “Try walking on this flag” emblazoned on the back.

And the U.S. Flag Code:

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

Oops. And my favorite part of the article, from a rather excitable person:

Kim Thompson, who lives a 30-mile drive from Valdosta in Pavo, told NBC News ahead of the rally that she and a friend were going to “show that we’re proud of our flag and we support our country.”

“I think it’s going to be amazing. I think it’s actually going to be part of history,” she said.

Uh, Kim…I don’t know how to break this to you…but everything is a part of history.

"NO IDIOTS WILL CONTROL FREE PEOPLE!INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM vs SOCIALISM!"

Crokin: Trump Was Sending a Message ..."
"Nationalists!Republicans are a social and cultural American association that is of our national heritageOUR GOALDeconstruction ..."

Crokin: Trump Was Sending a Message ..."
"Make YOUR OWN plans!SimpleJob of Government is threefold onlyProtectLifeLibertyPropertySO YOU CAN GET ON WITH YOUR ..."

Crokin: Trump Was Sending a Message ..."
"Rick Wiles has a new television show. Maybe his broadcasters would appreciate your show of ..."

Wiles: Christians in America Just Like ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • sigurd jorsalfar

    I have my doubts that ‘wearing T-shirts with the American flag and the words “Try walking on this flag” ‘ constitutes using a flag as ‘wearing apparel.’ If the t-shirt were made from a flag or flags that cut up and sewn in the form of a shirt, then maybe, but a flag depicted on a t-shirt, probably not — otherwise wouldn’t police and military be violating the flag code when they have those little flag badges sewn to their uniforms? What about flag lapel pins?

  • sugarfrosted

    @1 Then again David Barton does wear a shirt that’s essentially made out of flags. Pictures of flags definitely don’t count, though.

  • John Pieret

    @ 1 & 2:

    I’m not so sure as that. From the same section (176) of the Code:

    (e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way. [Sweaty chests anyone?]

    (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard[ed]. [In other words, it doesn’t have to be an actual flag.]

    (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

    Of course, it is all rather academic, since the Code has no force of law. But I’m willing to bet that the vast majority of these so-called “patriots” have never read the flag code or the two Supreme Court cases that explained why the Constitution trumps their emotional outbursts.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Thank God for people like these Brave Patriots standing up for controversial, unpopular subjects.

  • khms

    In any case, that “flag code” sounds suspiciously like something out of a church rulebook.

    Incidentally, I don’t recall ever hearing about any corresponding German rule, not even during my time with the German air force. Hmm … a short look in Wikipedia didn’t find anything applicable, either.

    Do other nations have comparable rules?

  • russriddell

    Ed –

    You’ve got it all wrong. Cutting up an actual flag and making it into a t-shirt would constitute ‘wearing apparel’. Displaying an image of flag on a t-shirt shows no disrespect. In fact, it’s the type of respect that should be practiced by every citizen that believes in the values that our country stands for.

    Since you chose to quote the flag code, how about c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free? If you take that literally, then on every NFL Military Appreciation Day, our own military personnel are disrespecting the flag when they unfurl and carry a flag – horizontally – the size of the football field.

    It all comes down to intent, sir. The title of the flag code is “176. Respect for the Flag”. The very first line starts, ” No disrespect should be shown …” Anyone who chooses to walk on a flag on the ground, well, their intent is pretty darn clear. And anyone who proudly wears it on their chest or back … you claim is also disrespectful? Shame, shame.

  • dingojack

    khms – Maybe Australia should…

    😀 Dingo

  • John Pieret

    russriddell:

    You’ve got it all wrong. Cutting up an actual flag and making it into a t-shirt would constitute ‘wearing apparel

    As I showed above from the Code itself, that’s not strictly true. It condemns misuse of “replicas” of the flag as well.

    The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free? If you take that literally, then on every NFL Military Appreciation Day, our own military personnel are disrespecting the flag when they unfurl and carry a flag – horizontally – the size of the football field

    Heh. I thought about mentioning that but didn’t. But that doesn’t prove the point that “It all comes down to intent, sir.” What it comes down to is how you perceive the intent of the use of the flag. Using it incorrectly (per the Code) during sporting events making millions of dollars for football team owners is okay. Using it to incorrectly (per the Code) as a form of speech to uphold the very Constitution some claim it the flag represents isn’t okay. The Founders committed actual treason against the then lawful government of the American colonies. John Handcock was right. Simply signing the Declaration of Independence was a hanging offense under the law.

    You may not like the protestors’ intent … there were plenty of American-born people who didn’t like the intent of the Declaration of Independence … but that’s why we have the First Amendment!

  • dingojack

    American flags:

    Wrong [horizontal], Right [neither horizontal, nor flat].

    @@ Dingo

  • tfkreference

    When the issue arose in the late ’80s, a friend from Mexico was dumbfounded that people were proposing restrictions on the symbol of freedom.

  • parasiteboy

    John Pieret

    Out of curiosity, wouldn’t some of the rules you stated above then make it a violation to drape the flag over a coffin of a vet, police, firefighter, ect. and a violation of folding it, giving it to the family and displaying it at home folded?

  • Anri

    russriddell @ 6:

    I agree with you that it all comes down to intent. Specifically, your intent as to whether you consider freedom of expression more worthy of respect than a symbol.

    There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer on that topic, but I know which I consider more important to civilized, modern people. And now, having read what you posted, I know which you consider more important, too.

    To put it another way: I’m perfectly happy to allow you to revere or not revere whatever symbol(s) you so desire.

    You have the choice of reciprocating. Your call.

  • Chiroptera

    russriddell, #6: And anyone who proudly wears it on their chest or back … you claim is also disrespectful?

    Hey, give Ed a break! He’s not the one who came up with something as ridiculous as a “flag code”! That’s the fault of the hyper-patriots!

  • magistramarla

    Hubby had a class about this in Officer’s Candidacy School.

    The guidance that he gave me and our children was that it was not OK to wear a t-shirt on July 4 with Budweiser emblazoned on it with an American flag as a background, but that wearing a white shirt with a blue collar and and a red jacket was fine.

    I always felt that our family looked more respectful with our understated patriotic messages than the in-your-face “I’m wearing the flag!” displays that we would see all around us.

  • John Pieret

    parasiteboy:

    Actually, there is a rule how to drape a flag over a coffin (with the blue field over the dead person’s head and on his/her left side. Can’t lower it into the grave or allow it to touch the ground. Why? … beats me!

  • matty1

    The flag is considered a living thing? How could anyone write this without cracking up?

  • Nice Ogress

    This is the same sort of arguments we hear about Leviticus: “This set of rules CLEARLY STATES all the Bad Things! And obviously according to the rules, those people over there are doing a Bad Thing! Get ’em!”

    * insert logical entailment here *

    “…Oh, we’re violating the same rules? Wuh-well, it doesn’t matter what it actually says! What matters is what we think it says! Anything WE do is automatically okay!”

  • zenlike

    russriddell,

    another idiot who doesn’t understand the first amendment.

    Also, who decised which piece of cloth depicting a flag is an actual flag or a fake flag? Your distinction is meaningless.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    zenlike, you know if it’s a real American flag if, when you salute it, a wicked guitar lick plays (also, fireworks).

  • weatherwax

    I participated in a Civil War reenactment put on by the Boy Scouts, and overnight they held their flag disposal ceremony. One by one, they took folded flags out of a box, stretched it over a fire, saluted it and held the salute while they said the proper words, which weren’t short, then lowered it into the fire. One flag at a time. For hours, and hours, and hours…

    And when they were done, the next troop started on their flags.

    I’m mostly proud of the ideals the flag represents, and I serve in the US Army Reserves, and I thought it was insane.

  • marcus

    “Also, who decided which piece of cloth depicting a flag is an actual flag or a fake flag? Your distinction is meaningless.”

    You may recall that when Congress was contemplating the idiotic “Anti-American Flag Desecration Constitutional Amendment” several questions like this were raised which demonstrated just how fucking ridiculous and unenforceable such laws are. Questions like:

    “If I make a replica of a flag that has 12 stripes and 51stars and stand out in my front yard and piss on it, is that considered flag desecration under this law?” And..

    “If if I make a photocopy of a flag and pick up dog poop with it and throw it in the garbage is that flag desecration?”

    And my favorite: “If I buy an American flag with my own money how can the State have any say in what I do with it?”

    Silly questions perhaps, but if that amendment had passed they are questions that would have to have been asked.

    Passing that amendment would have been a true defilement of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, in my opinion, and it was a pretty goddamned close call.

  • zenlike

    marcus

    And my favorite: “If I buy an American flag with my own money how can the State have any say in what I do with it?”

    Ah yes. “Small government”.

  • eamick

    @9: Both are acceptable ways of displaying a flag on a wall. It’s carrying horizontally that’s not allowed.

    @20: “Proper words”? In other words, words they pulled out of their asses; there’s certainly nothing in the Flag Code about what needs to be said, or that anything needs to be said at all.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    @Matty:

    The flag is considered a living thing? How could anyone write this without cracking up?

    Pretty disturbed, isn’t it?

  • StevoR

    Uh, Kim…I don’t know how to break this to you…but everything is a part of history.

    Even the future?

  • StevoR

    @16. matty1 : “The flag is considered a living thing? How could anyone write this without cracking up?”

    Well I expect most flags are covered in life – bacteria, maybe even mould! Of course this goes for pretty much everything else too!

    (I believe sometimes flags are made from flowers and even people on occassion yeah?)

  • dingojack

    eamick (#23) – Ah, but you’re forgetting that words are magical. If says you can’t have a horizontal flag – you can’t. It doesn’t have the words ‘carry’ or ‘display’ or whatever, it simply says ‘horizontal’. Therefore the magic words in the holy rules must be followed exactly, or else something bad will happen* (to those totally unconnected to the so-called offense).

    As Nice Ogress (#17) mentioned — this whole ‘flag fetishism’ is simply that seemingly ‘exceptionally’ American combination of magical thinking and special pleading.

    Dingo

    ———

    * perhaps an earthquake in Nepal or Japan or some other area where earthquakes are common. Or perhaps a Hurricane in hurricane territory. Or a fire in a fire-prone area. Or some other natural disaster occurring in an area where such disasters are common — just thousands of miles away from the actual area of the ‘offense’.

  • eamick

    @27: Actually, it does explicitly specify that carrying horizontally is not allowed, and that mounting on the wall in the ways you showed are OK. Mind you, I think all of this is stupid, too, but at least ridicule it for the right reasons. :)

  • StevoR

    I wonder what the flag code says about this? :

    http://www.gettyimages.com.au/detail/photo/american-flag-made-of-flowers-high-res-stock-photography/87985919

    Among other examples? How about a body paint flag on a nude human? Or dyed into a dogs fur? Or made of deciduous trees that change colour and drop their leaves .. so many possibilities ..

  • http://umlud.blogspot.com umlud

    From the Flag Code Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 4,

    The words ‘flag, standard, colors, or ensign’, as used herein, shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, or of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance, of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America or a picture or a representation of either, upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag, colors, standard, or ensign of the United States of America.

    IOW, it doesn’t matter if it is the actual flag of the United States, but if it is even MEANT to be the flag of the United States, it can count.

    …of course, the Flag Code (in Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 1) defines the flag of the United States as:

    The flag of the United States shall be thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white; and the union of the flag shall be forty-eight stars, white in a blue field.

    So, if you discount the generality of Section 4 (which other parts of the Flag Code don’t seem to do), then you are only really desecrating the flag if it is the pre-Alaska and Hawaii version with 48 stars. Burning, trampling, wearing, etc. the 50-star version is just being “disrespectful” to some other flag that happens to bear a strong resemblance to the “official” version with 48 stars.

    However, if you say that Section 4 is to be used generally (which seems to be how the rest of the Flag Code was written), then the wearing of anything upon which a flag that is meant to be the flag of the United States becomes against the flag code. That means shirts worn by uberpatriots, too.

    If you are going to claim the Flag Code, then you have to claim the entire Flag Code, or else your position is at best ill-informed and at worst deeply hypocritical.

  • Ysidro

    Where’d russriddell go? I want to hear more on how wearing a flag t-shirt is the type of respect every citizen should show. Maybe we can pass them out to everyone on July 4? Then we all get to be respectful in our flag t-shirts that were probably made in Bangladesh.

  • dingojack

    So this or this are out* as tee-shirts then?

    Dingo

    ———

    * as per the Flag Code Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 4

  • dingojack

    Then there’s: this.

    Dingo