Today continues with my third article on The Future of … series. The first was about blogging, the second was about eCommerce, and today I want to write about flags. Because Flags Bay is a blogging, eCommerce website selling flags, I wonder what the future holds for flags. Every week I scan hundreds of flag-related news articles, looking for interesting stories. The are many ideas about the U.S. flag, but here are some debates that keep coming up over and over again.
- When is it appropriate to fly the American flag?
- Where should the flags be manufactured?
- Who should control half-staffing orders?
- Should the U.S. Flag Code be enforced?
- Can your right to fly the American flag be restricted?
- Should cities control the size of the American flag you can fly?
- Should you be required to show respect for the American flag?
These debates take place on forums, in newspaper comments, and in Letters to Editors. They are often heated debates, and usually revolve around people’s feelings, not the law. I want to discuss each of the topics in an overview.
Regularly Fly the Flag?
Here’s a letter written to a newspaper from a man who abhors those who fly their flag every day. He thinks flag flyers are Nationalist, and that’s a bad thing. I was unaware my joy in flying my flags made me a nationalist, and the U.S. Flag Code calls for flying the Colors daily, but especially on the 18 named days.
My experience indicates that flags are flown by people of all persuasions … regardless of their politics, ethnicity, race, gender and genetics. Flying the American flag doesn’t make someone a Nationalist, holding Nationalistic beliefs makes someone a Nationalist.
I fly my flags daily to remind me, and others who see them, of the freedoms Americans have and the price that is paid for that freedom.
Who Made Your Flag?
Several states have now passed laws making it illegal for residents or government officials to buy an American flag manufactured outside the United States. At times I think I understand their thinking behind this, but then I read further and … no, I don’t.
Now don’t misquote me on this. I love American flags manufactured in America and have no desire to promote foreign-made flags, but why stop there. Why not shoes, wigs, knives, and underpants. I just sometimes have authority issues. It makes me want to buy a Chinese-made American flag, while wearing Vietnamese shorts and Taiwanese
thongs flip flops.
Well, I could fill pages on this, but let me just say—Welcome to America, land of the free … in some things.
The half-staffing debate rages in local newspapers across the land, because of a huge misunderstanding of the law. Before last month, the U.S. Flag Code provided for the President of the United States and State Governors to order the American flag to half-staff, using very specific guidelines. Last month, President Bush amended the Flag Code guidelines to include servicemen killed in the line of duty. However, he didn’t amend who can order the flags to half-staff to include city mayors. Unfortunately many City Mayors order the U.S. flag to half-staff, which is not in their authority … period.
Enforce the Flag Code?
Demands for Flag Code enforcement frequently appear in Letter to Editors, calling for someone to force compliance with the U.S. Flag Code. The offenders either fly the flag wrong, or it’s worn out, or some other issue.
Although I sympathize and the U.S. Flag Code is the law, there is no provision for enforcing the law. The only enforcement comes from people’s respect for the American flag. Without respect, those who disrespect the flag can do so—without penalty.
Restrict My Flag?
Friday’s flag news contained another story of an apartment complex who ordered two tenants to remove their U.S. flags. The Freedom to Fly bill provides for reasonable requirements, but cannot completely restrict displaying the flag. What’s reasonable? The courts haven’t decided, but I’m sure the apartment complex could prevent a tenant from installing a 6″ by 40′ metal flag pole near their front door. I would call that reasonable, but that’s just me.
My Flag’s too Big?
It made national headlines when Donald Trump installed a huge flagpole and American flag on his property in Florida. Last week it happened in Tennessee. A new business installed an 80′ flagpole and a very large flag, only to find out if was forbidden by the city’s sign ordinance. The city ordinance only allows for a flag 32 square feet in size. Doing the math, a 5′ X 8′ flag would be illegal. That’s not a very big flag.
This kind of decision must remain at the local level, giving the locals a chance to express their views. The outrage in Tennessee might lead to a new set of laws and city leaders. People really liked seeing the flag on their way to work.
My Running Shorts Don’t Comply?
Many people are upset with the proliferation of the American flag on running shorts, t-shirts, and even underwear. Every 4th of July, napkins and plates with the flag imprinted on them show up at picnics … in violation of that same U.S. Flag Code I keep referring to.
Can respect for the flag be legislated? I don’t think that’s possible, but it does go back to the enforcement question.
Can you legislate compliance with the U.S. Flag Code? Yes, you can, but should the government establish a Flag Police?
These questions continue to be asked, but unfortunately, not answered to many’s satisfaction.
Some claim the U.S. Flag Code is only a list of suggestions, not the law of the land.
Some claim the U.S can’t compete with the world.
Some claim that wearing running shorts with flags is patriotic.
Some claim that you can fly the flag too much.
Some claim authority they don’t have.
I have to admit, the only answers I have are found in the United States Flag Code. Look for yourself.
Oh, in the first of this series, I teased with Flying flags like Kites. Kite flags are available, but if you’re heading out to buy one, remember: it’s a violation the U.S. Flag Code. Sorry.