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City of Asheville passes flag flying law

The U.S. Flag Code is an oft-used reference document here at The Daily Flag, so this story from Asheville, North Carolina instantly caught my eye. The City Council passed an ordinance requiring businesses displaying the United States flag to comply with the U.S. Flag Code. That’s it … if you fly the U.S. flag, you must comply with the Federal law governing the flag.

From viewing the comments on the news story about this ordinance, the consensus is to condemn the city for having the audacity to get into their business.  Why should they have to comply with the U.S. Flag Code when terrorists can burn the flag without consequences? Very few people said anything positive about the city’s new ordinance or the Flag Code—rather 94% of the comments were negative toward both.

Ashevilleflagflap City of Asheville flag rule called unconstitutional

Asheville—A new city rule for how businesses fly the U.S. flag is unconstitutional and would be overturned in court, two First Amendment experts have said. That’s because city officials have sought to regulate the content of businesses’ speech and in doing so may be trampling on their rights, the attorneys said, though city lawyers maintain the flag rule is constitutional. Under the rule, businesses’ display of U.S. flags must follow the U.S. flag code, which prohibits such things as flying the flag unlit at night or flying it in the rain if it is not made of all-weather material. If businesses don’t comply, their flags can be regulated like other signs according to size, placement and appearance. Flouting the city’s sign rule carries a daily fine of $100.

Then the lawyers jumped in quickly shouting that the city’s new rule and the U.S. Flag Code are both unconstitutional. Yep, they went straight for the jugular. Here another quote from the story,

Ronald Collins, a scholar with the nonprofit First Amendment Center, said the U.S. flag code itself is probably unconstitutional.

Remember, citizens of the United States are under no obligation to fly the American flag, and no one condemns you if you don’t fly the flag—no one even thinks about it.

Repeating what I said in my article Country of Honor, the U.S. Flag Code is a code of honor and is policed by the honor and virtue of the flag flyer, not the government. My question is—why are these business owners so upset over a city ordinance requiring something they should already be doing out of honor and respect? This puts no further burden or hardship on them than duty demands.

What do you think? Is the U.S. Flag Code unconstitutional? Is this an unreasonable ordinance by the City of Asheville? Should the City of Asheville even wade into this area governed by a Federal Law?

All good questions and I’m interested in what you think. Tell me in the comments.

2 thoughts on “City of Asheville passes flag flying law

  1. I agree with you, Larry, but this is a tuffy.

    You shouldn’t wear your bikini to the grocery store either, but regulating it gets much harder. Codes of honor are much better because conformity is regulated by society, not by laws. While a few dirty (or leering) looks and unkind words can discourage the bikini wearer, the noncompliant flag flyer doesn’t get such direct feedback. And while the bikini wearer soon goes home, the incorrect flag will stay flying, long enough for the flyer to feel correct in what they are doing.

    So how do you get them to comply, if not by law or by honor? Education? Visits by the VFW? An interesting problem.

  2. Therein lies the biggest problem, Dave. People want to fly the flag, but don’t want to be bothered with the details. Since there is no “flag police” to confront incorrect flag flying, how does it get better? With the local school, I dropped by and offered my services, which worked, but in other instances, it hasn’t.

    A few months ago, I had a discussion with a local candidate running for our House of Representatives. He is retired military (three branches) officer and he was flying the U.S. flag wrong at his information booth. When I brought up the fact that his flags were lined up incorrectly, he informed me he knew what he was doing and it wasn’t wrong. I had no desire to argue with him, so I dropped it, but again, how do you instruct when they’re in denial? That’s another tuffy.

    I need to come up with a good analogy that fits, but so far, it has escaped me. If you think of anything, drop me a line. Oh, and thanks for the comment. You know how much Deborah and I appreciate the participation.

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