americanflagclothingAfter the election last year, my friend Steve noted: “I’ve only got one thing to say about the American flag:
We’ve been ‘burning’ it as a culture for decades via commercialized use of the image on everything —and I mean everything.” I totally agree, and have mentioned it on these pages before.

He pointed to section 176 of the U.S. Flag Code:

§176. Respect for flag

…(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general…

(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(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.

(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.”

(k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

But Steve makes an interesting observation I had not considered: “Note the wording: there are those in America today who honestly believe it is ‘no longer a fitting emblem for display’ —not due to the condition of the flag per se, but what we’ve done to ourselves as a nation. It is a protected form of free speech, in that context.” And while I’ve never burned the flag in protest, it does make enough sense that even a conservative such as the late Antonin Scalia saw flag burning as a protected right.

Check out USFlag.org: A website dedicated to the Flag of the United States of America – United States Code

2 Responses to “Real respect for the American flag”

  • CGHill says:

    I’m obviously not a Supreme Court Justice, and it’s been years since I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but Scalia makes sense here — especially since he expressed a certain antipathy toward flag-burners. Free speech is protected no matter what we think of the speaker or his subject matter.

  • You will surely recall that in the last two decades of the 20th century there was an intense effort to pass a “Flag Burning” amendment to the US Constitution that would have made intentionally damaging a flag for politically incorrect political reasons a thought crime. Our former congressman McNulty, for example, rabidly supported it.

    I’ve always thought that the reason it never got seriously proposed was because such an amendment would have brought all sales of flag-bearing items to a halt. That faded sticker on your SUV, washing your t-shirt in hot water, throwing out junk mail bearing flags, these could have become serious federal crimes. Lawyers would have made an instant mockery of the amendment, but more importantly a whole sector of the economy would suddenly find itself losing a significant source of revenue.

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