Stars & Stripes - realPatridiots™ Worship vs. The United States Flag Code.

While there are no legal penalties for running afoul of the US Flag Code, many veterans see this "fashion' as disrespect

We were just watching a brave Buzzfeed News reporter dispatching from the frontline of the #SecondCivilWar. She was livestreaming video from a Donald J.Trump's rally in Montana.

Having seen a number of US flag code infractions, it might be a good opportunity to remind those basic patriots of 4 U.S. Code § 8 - Respect for flag

We believe that the meaning of freedom in America is that we're n ot required to pay allegiance to the flag or country, as Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote in his opinion regarding Gobitis v. Minersville School District (1940).

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein…"

While there are no legal penalties for running afoul of the United States Flag Code, many veterans do frequently spot violations, said Joe Plenzler, a spokesman for the American Legion, a veterans organization in an interview for NYT. Following the code is entirely voluntary, but “it’s a significant emotional issue for many of our veterans,” he said.

If you're going to fly the flag and claim to be a patriot, especially the one of the type believing that those that don't stand for the anthem disrespect the flag, you might want dot your i's and cross your t's...and make sure you're following the flag code to the letter of the law.

It all boils down to common sense. Think of the flag as a sacred object, something worthy of respect. A photo of a loved one, a bible. In many cultures sitting or standing on things, even if it's a representation of the object and not the real thing is seen as disrespectful. Thus, wearing flag print socks or using a flag print towel at the beach is like wiping your feet or cleaning yourself with a flag. Similar to buying toilet paper with the image of something you hate imprinted on it.

If you're more offended by some football players respectfully kneeling during the national anthem to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances" (1st Amendment), and call attention to their brothers and sisters who have been "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" (5th Amendment), than you are of the so called patriots who wrap themselves in flag print while stomping on the constitutional rights of said football players, you might want to ask yourself what patriotism really means, and if a symbol means more to you than the values enshrined in that symbol.

What about flag shirts, shorts, bikinis and hats?

The United States Flag Code, clearly states:

“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.”

“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 napkin 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.”

If it’s ragged, get rid of it

If a flag is dirty, tattered or faded, don’t bother flying it.

“In their patriotism, people many times forget that displaying a soiled flag is not the way to go about it,” Mr. Plenzler said. “We like to encourage people to buy new flags, and make sure the flags they have are in presentable condition.”

‘Preferably by burning’

Don’t just throw it in the garbage. The code says:

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.

The code offers no specific guidance on how to burn it. A 2008 report by the Congressional Research Service wrote that “any procedure which is in good taste and shows no disrespect to the flag would be appropriate.”

Many American Legion posts hold public ceremonies to dispose of old flags on Flag Day. Most V.F.W. chapters will accept flags, and will often work with local scout troops to properly dispose of them.

If you do it yourself, the legion suggests burning it in private, so others don’t confuse your action with a political protest.

That said, it should be noted that burning the flag in protest, while offensive to many people, remains constitutionally protected under a Supreme Court ruling in 1989. From time to time, Congress has tried and failed to reverse that ruling.

Touching the ground

One thing to note: Some people mistakenly believe a flag must be burned if it touches the ground.

That’s a myth that pervades even active service members, Mr. Plenzler said.

You should try to avoid letting the flag touch the ground, but it can still be flown if it remains in good condition, he said.

Flying at night

If you do so, it should be well-lighted. According to the code:

“It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

The American Legion defines “proper illumination” as a light specifically placed to light the flag, or bright enough so the flag is “recognizable by the casual observer.”