There are rules for flying the flag.
October 3, 2001 4:39 AM   Subscribe

There are rules for flying the flag. Not that anyone is really following them. In our patriotic fervor, it seems to me that we as a nation are become very apathetic to handling the banner in ways that at other times gets people crying desecration. For those who find the formal flag too dry, the American Legion also provides this handy FAQ. How many of you out there showing your patriotism are doing Ol' Glory justice?
posted by shagoth (11 comments total)
I didn't see anything in there about the proper way to tape it to your car window...
posted by elvissinatra at 7:01 AM on October 3, 2001

I read in an old Flag Etiquette book that, simply put, if you make a mistake and accidently break one of the flag rules, but meant your action to be respectful, then it is fine.

It is all about intent, not rules of law.
posted by kristin at 7:29 AM on October 3, 2001

Let's not forget the latest addition to the rules: The bigger your flag, the more patriotic you are. This is (of course) a corollary to: "If your neighbor doesn't display a flag, he does not love his country and must be a leftwing, tree-hugging, vegitarian, ACLU card-carrier, who must be reported to the proper authorities after getting his ass whupped by four or more half-drunk rednecked patriots who think Afghanistan's in Europe and, three weeks earlier, didn't know Osama Bin Laden from Casey Kasem."
posted by RavinDave at 7:37 AM on October 3, 2001

um, if you check Section 1, it mentions having =48= stars on the flag. (section 2 explains one needs to add stars upon new states entering the union)

how old is this?
posted by meep at 8:17 AM on October 3, 2001

Having grown up in Europe, I've long been bemused by the American habit of draping flags in offices, classrooms, front lawns and whatnot. I generally tend to look down on the practice as an unnecessary.

But under the current cirumstances, symbols of patriotism are appropriate. America has been attacked. Whatever our wrongs as a nation, the attack was evil and unjust. Now is the time to pull together.

This isn't to say that we shouldn't be critical of our government, or other aspects of our culture and society. And it certainly doesn't mean we should be hostile or unnappreciative of other nations and societies.

But if ever there was a time for patriotic display, this is it.
posted by Loudmax at 8:28 AM on October 3, 2001

Heh. Waaaay back when I was a Cub Scout, my troop carried a huge flag in a parade. Flat, which is against the guidelines. And we were told if any part of the flag touched the ground, we'd have to burn it. Nothing like stress and bizarre arbitrary rules to instill patriotism into little kids. :)
posted by Foosnark at 8:28 AM on October 3, 2001

So can I still use my pack of "Stars and Bars" brand rolling papers? Their slogan is "Fly Higher Than Old Glory". That's patriotic, right?
posted by Optamystic at 8:48 AM on October 3, 2001

Remember, folks, there are lots of laws on the books that have no force of law because courts have found them unconstitutional. The Flag Code is among them; the Supreme Court has ruled that you have the freedom to do anything you want to the flag as a political statement and that you can't be punished by the government for doing so. Most sources therefore list the Flag Code as "rules and customs" but not as "laws," even though they're in the United States Code (the federal laws).

Good thing, too, because a whole mess of patriots would be in jail. 4 USC 1(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."

Our own "Worst Newspaper in America" has printed a flag on its masthead for decades, and on 2001.09.12 printed a full-page paper flag. That's both "used for advertising purposes" and "printed ... on ... anything that is designed for temporary use and discard," unless they believe every front page of every day's paper must be preserved forever. Wouldn't it be a shame if they got fined $100 per copy per day for 50 years?

Personally, as a card-carrying civil libertarian, I do my best to obey all these rules. They mean nothing if you're forced to kowtow to them under threat of imprisonment. Respect and honor are real only when given voluntarily.
posted by mdeatherage at 8:56 AM on October 3, 2001

My local town hall has been flying the US flag in a show of support. Unfortunately, an American visitor noticed that it was the 48-star flag. Typical.
posted by holgate at 9:44 AM on October 3, 2001

I think it's high time the rules were relaxed. For one thing, there's no provision for the plastic flag mounts that you can stick above your car door. They're quite popular and I think perfectly respectable. Printing a flag on newsprint? Popular and OK in a pinch. There are lots more examples, such as clothing items based on the flag. (I say they should be abstract designs with blue fields, stars, and red stripes, but not actual flags. Then again there's Old Navy's annual promotion ...)

Then again ... I ate an American flag cookie today. Was that desecration? What about after my stomach got hold of it?
posted by dhartung at 5:36 PM on October 3, 2001

I want a cookie....

these rules... mean nothing if you're forced to kowtow to them under threat of imprisonment. Respect and honor are real only when given voluntarily.

That`s an important insight (just ask me, I`ll tell you). The world would be a much better place if patriots and religious leaders (and any others prone to trying to force people to behave in certain ways "to show respect") would understand this.
posted by chiheisen at 6:11 PM on October 3, 2001

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