Thursday, August 13, 2009

Flag Waving

Although Flag Day was a couple of months ago, both Mummy Militant and I have had flags on the mind recently. Despite some readers of this blog labeling me a 'dirty liberal', I'm actually quite a patriotic soul and really quite fancy putting a couple of flags out on our balcony.

The American flag, of course - the old 'Stars and Stripes.'

Plus, the British flag - the 'Union Flag'.

[It's often mislabeled the 'Union Jack' although technically, a flag is only a 'Jack' if it's fluttering from the mast of a boat. Editorial Bear]

Of course, hanging anything other than the Stars and Stripes is a dangerous business here in America. There are certain laws and protocols that have to be adhered to, otherwise you'll have some psychotic veteran crawling onto your property and hacking down the offending world flags with a machete - as occurred here.

As an immigrant to the United States - and one who's passionate about this nation and its rich history - I would never deliberately do anything to disrespect the American flag. Nevertheless, I still would like to hang my country's flag up too! I'm proud to be British (well, proud now that I don't have to live there any more!)

So I did some research - and the rules about hanging another flag alongside the American one are actually fairly simple.
Title 4 of the United States Code. No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof.
It's also important to note that while these instructions are Federal Law, there is no punishment for failing to abide by them. It's a document of protocol only (which means that the veteran who cut down the flag in this story was acting totally without authority.)

Nevertheless, 'Old Glory' is a flag that should be respected, so a British flag should always to secondary to the 'big dog' and only hung to its left, at the same level (or below.) Likewise, if I was going to hang other flags (such as state flags) they should be similarly placed.

(The Mexican store-owner in that news story, who hoisted the Mexican flag higher than the American one, was deliberately or inadvertently giving a message of disrespect towards the flag of the nation that he now called home.)

So now I've done my research, will be be seeing two proudly fluttering flags outside the maison de Militant Ginger? Perhaps.

In all honesty, I'm actually quite nervous to do so.

I live on an urban street, so even if I obey the regulations to the letter of the United States Flag Code, I am concerned that some self-appointed 'patriot' might come onto my property and hack down my British flag for some misguided, idiotic reason.

(The veteran in the example earlier, one might argue, could have discussed his problem with the store owner first, before trespassing on his property and hacking apart two nation's flags.)

The fact is, the sort of person who whips out a Bowie knife and starts hacking apart other people's things probably isn't the sort of person who's well-read in the specifics of Flag Code - and might think they're performing a 'patriotic act' even when all they're doing is vandalizing somebody else's property.

So I think I'll wait until I move to another state before hanging the British and American flags up - a state with more lenient gun control laws than New Jersey.

Because, while I fully intend to give the American flag due respect and deference, as prescribed by law, I also fully intend to empty both barrels of a twelve-gauge into any self-appointed vigilante who feels compelled to come onto my property with a knife in his hand.

After all, the American flag does stand for principles like "the freedom to bear arms."

Addendums - in response to emails I've already received:
  1. No, I don't advocate the shooting of the brave veterans who served this country and defended our freedoms. Unless they trespass on your property with a knife. Then they're fair game (and let's be honest, with all that military training, they probably have the advantage.)
  2. No, I'm not defending the behavior of the store owner who flew the Mexican flag higher than the American one - although I am saying that violent property damage with a lethal weapon was probably not the solution to an issue that could have been solved with a few minutes of quiet discussion.


Tom said...

That video seems so incredibly staged. (And I don't trust the local news enough to not stage it.)

Next stop, Broadway!

Seriously, if you follow the flag code, you won't have any problems. The sort of people who care about these things actually do know the flag code fairly well, or at least well enough that they wouldn't act without it being a blatant violation.

Finally, there's a difference between the UK flag and the Mexican flag. I'm not saying there should be... but there is.

And there's a difference between someone making an honest mistake, and someone standing around and seeing the result of a planned affront.

Roland Hulme said...

I think I could believe you about it being staged. It did seem rather convenient that the news crew was there.

The vet, Jim Brossard, has made quite a career out of it. They even have a commemorative knife in his honor.