A common dilemma today affects many people and companies in the United States: they want to display their pride in the country by using the American flag. They wear clothing with representations of the flag on it, or adorn their advertising with flags. Car dealerships of all sizes traditionally fly attention–getting flags, and television advertisers cautiously slip in the flag to show patriotism.
Americans are the most creative people in the world, and there’s nothing it seems, that can’t be done with a stars and stripes motif. But how much of it violates the flag code?
Flags Bay sells flags, and yet there was great hesitation to decorate this website with flags. We passed on some great-looking business cards because they were a half-toned picture of a waving American flag. Our business card is a rich splash of red, white, and blue, complete with a star, but it in no way looks like the U.S. Flag.
What does the U.S. Flag Code say about the display of the American flag?
Here is Title 4; Chapter 1; Section 8(i) from the United States Flag Code:
8(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. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
And if this weren’t enough, Section 3, Use of flag for advertising purposes; mutilation of flag, calls for both a fine and imprisonment for this offense. This is the only aspect of the flag code that carries such weight.
Title 4; Chapter 1; Section 3 from the United States Flag Code:
…a representation of any such flag, standard, colors, or ensign, to advertise, call attention to, decorate, mark, or distinguish the article or substance on which so placed shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both, …
In fairness, other than the one section, the U.S Flag Code is not an enforceable set of laws, but rather a set of unifying guidelines intended to preserve our symbol of freedom.
So what are we to do in light of the Code? Can we show our patriotism by wearing flag shirts and displaying flags in our advertising? Or are we in violation and subject to fines and jail time?
I am uncomfortable myself wearing something that represents the flag, but I don’t see anything wrong with the picture at the top of our website. Is that wrong of me?
Hmmm … it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
What’s your opinion? Give us some feedback.