Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Flag Day.

WARNING: Today's blog may contain images offensive to children (except gullible kids who believe what they were taught in their high school civics classes) and most adults (except those who still believe the Constitution guarantees their the right to express themselves in ways that could offend others or, worse, even piss 'em off maybe).

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"Earth cultures have one basic thing in common: They are all dysfunctional. Once a culture has decided which dysfunctional aspects it wishes to represent, it raises a flag to declare its position, packages its preferred brand of dysfunctionality for consumption at home and abroad, and passes it off as a national heritage to be proud of and protected at all costs." (an alien transcription from "ET 101," the book)

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The last-ever issue of the Shasta High School Volcano.

As another June 14th rolls around, I confess, I wasn't going to devote time to National Flag Day this year. That is, until I heard about some teenagers this past week. Seems they wrote an article in their school paper defending flag burning (complete with picture!) as a form of "freedom of speech."

What better tribute this Flag Day then that of Redding, California's Shasta High School defending the freedom the Stars and Stripes represents, even if it means burning that symbol as demonstration of ones liberty to speak freely?

Sadly, as the student's soon learned, freedom of speech does not extend to burning a flag. In fact, sadder still, their freedom of speech doesn't even extend to just "thinking publicly" about burning a flag!

"The paper's done," said Milan Woollard, Shasta High principal. "There is not going to be a school newspaper next year."

Maybe if some of the students on the staff of the Shasta Volcano had taken time to review a few of the many Flag Rules and Regulations, they could have avoided being labeled immature, self-indulgent, student saboteurs, and abusers of their freedom of speech, costing their school a newspaper in the process.

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Here then are just a few of the rules from that website:

A signed flag by presidential candidate John McCain, January, 2008
(Photo by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

"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." (Dada sees no harm in signing a souvenir flag for a McCain groupy.)

President Bush about to step on a carpet of the American flag at the site
of the September 11, 2001 attack. (Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed)

Section 8b of the Flag Code reads, "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground." Before anyone takes offense at Bush standing on the American flag, it would be well for them to remember what he did with the Constitution!

Flag being flown upside down during a demonstration.
(Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images/David McNew)


According to code, "The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property." In that distress is a subjective thing, who's to say displaying the flag this way is wrong? How many in this crowd may be in extreme danger of losing their homes and how many are unable to afford insurance, thus threatening their health and well being?

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Sadly, when it comes to flags, freedom of speech takes a holiday. When teaching us of our liberties, it's easy to accept the implication that burning one is allowed. But because that is offensive to so many who have accepted the flag as "our national heritage to be proud of and protected at all costs," it is not.

Instead, the idea of flag burning as one of our freedoms has been surrendered by a majority of Americans. And they expect anyone still thinking it's ok to incinerate one will give up the notion as well.

With proper flag etiquette fresh in our minds, here's wishing everyone a very happy Flag Day. And for Pete's sake, if you choose to display one, don't hang it upside down!

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NOTE: It was brought to my attention in a comment here from eprof2, that Mike Stuart, who is superintendent of schools in Redding, CA, has overridden Principal Milan Woollard's decision to shut down Shasta High School's newpaper, The Volcano, making this a better Flag Day for all!

12 comments:

Utah Savage said...

If I buy stamps of the flag I always put them on my bills upside down. I know what I'm doing. I'm shouting that we are in distress as a country. If I had a flag to hoist on a flag pole, I hoist it upside down. We are in distress. I'm now 64 and in my lifetime I remember no time when we were in more distress. Even in the darkest days of the Vietnam War, we were in it together--all of us. Now it only the few families who feel the extremity of this distress. The rest in no jeopardy of having their son or daughter killed, or maimed because it's an all volunteer force that carries this folly on it's back.

Why doesn't the Press press McCain about how he plans to keep two wars, maybe three, going without bringing back the Draft?

eProf2 said...

The Volcano lives:

http://www.redding.com/news/2008/jun/14/volcano-to-be-published-again/

We lived in Redding for eleven years, and while it's a fairly conservative town I'm surprised by the actions of the administration, especially when you see the entire front cover depicting school events during 07-08. I'm glad the Supt, Mike Stuart, an acquaintance, relented and reversed the decision of the Principal. The school should use this not as a divisive issue but a real teaching moment focusing on the Constitution, law-making, and SC decisions. At least I hope so.

Happy Flag Day!

eProf2 said...

Oh, yeah, this is Mike Stuart's last week on the job as he's retiring at the end of next week. What a way to go, eh?

dada said...

Utah: (For the next year you can sing "When I'm Sixty-Four!")

Several years ago I'd contemplated igniting our Fourth of July barbeque with--instead of charcoal lighter--a U.S. flag. It was all in the spirit of the times & the holiday. But the thought of bunting tainted weinies made me opt for the traditional lighter fluid instead.

Then in September '06 when the DishTV satellite installer came to hook up our new Dish system, he asked me: "What does an upside down American flag mean?"

I asked him, "Why? Where did you see such a thing?"

"At a house of a customer earlier today," he claimed.

This I doubted because the door he knocked on to announce his arrival at our home proudly displays an upside flag on it. (There's also a sign I'd made in the window next to it that reads "DANGER: Free Speech Zone!")

So the next hour or so involved "friendly" banter over what might constitute distress for some Americans such as our ongoing unwinnable wars, our fleeting liberties, our nose-diving economy and the fact we'd become the worlds biggest exporter of terror, etc.

Our installer didn't see it. In fact, he felt quite comfortable about things just the way they were.

Maybe that had something to do with his decision that he wouldn't be able to mount the Dish on the the beautiful metal armature mount that I'd installed my self that had since held two DirectTV dishes and one DishTV dish. He'd have to drill four holes in our roof, which I think he took unusual pleasure in.

(Not to worry, we have a new roof and the DishTV satellite is gone, never to return again as a receiver of signals, but soon to reappear back on my original mount up on the roof, once I decide how I'm going to "redecorate it"....something like a big peace sign, or maybe- as how it's round shape suggests- a planet Earth with the numbers 01-20-09 over it!)

But I agree with you, Utah. Personally, I never thought I'd reach this stage in life and have to concern myself with so many negative issues, many of which may determine the very future of the nation, and many of which were avoidable or unnecessary.

Interesting times indeed!

dada said...

eprof: Thanks for the wonderful update on this story. That's great news.

Small world, isn't it? Well, we're very glad you enlightened us with the latest news because, after reading your comment, Mrs. Dada was immediately on the phone to Redding, CA where she left some positive feedback on Superintendent Mike's phone!

And I love your suggestion that this may turn out to be an excellent learning tool for the students.

Of course, in writing today's blog, I am reminded of my own HS senior Civics class when our instructor asked a student, "What would you do if you saw someone burning a U.S. flag?"

Without hesitation, the student responded, "Nothing!"

Our instructor then said, "I want you to remove yourself from the classroom, go outside, sit on the steps out there and contemplate your answer until class is over."

("Damn, I wish he'd called on me instead!")

Fran said...

Have to wonder if the ACLU "helped" the administration decide to not shut down the paper for this freedom of speech regarding the flag burning?

Flag burning is the least of our worries, but apparently a great distraction.

Speaking of proper flag etiquette, burning a flag is the proper way to discard a flag, yes?

dada said...

Fran: Yes, thousands of flags are retired each year by Boy Scouts burning them. (Maybe using the BSA squelches the thirst for youthful pyromania? ~grin)

And you're absolutely right about this issue being the least of our worries, yet, why am I waiting for the other two shoes to drop?

Something like our Constitutional right to bear arms? Oh, and don't you know republicans are watching closely the back doors of abortion clinics, just waiting to catch a Class of '08 valedictorian to come sneaking out? These are the things that will help decide who Kansas will choose as their next president, right?

PTCruiser said...

Another excellent post, Dada. I took the time to look up this Mr. Woollard. Found the Shasta High School website here, including Principal Woollard's e-mail address. I sent him a lovely letter to let him know how I feel.

dada said...

Holy Jesus -- PT!!!

If this isn't one of the bigger surprises of 2008. Great to see you're still around, still lurking, you fellow pinko, extremist, revolutionary bastard! Hope you're doing well. It REALLY is great to see you.

(Off topic: I still drop by the old PT Cruiser's on occasion. Reasons vary between: praying to see a new entry there, or; studying your last entry as a great way to pull the curtain on Dada's when the time comes.)

OK, back to the topic. Thanks for your idea/inspiration as I just came here after also writing Shasta High's principal, using eprof's idea of this incident being a great teaching tool, "PARTICULARY FOR YOUR TEACHERS AND YOUR ADMINISTRATION!" Mr. Woollard.

While you think this flag burning bullshit is on a back burner, it always flares up and sears you. And as determined as I am to douse it, I guess it will always be a hot topic to me.

Anyway, PT, thanks for dropping by. Hope you're enjoying 'life after blogging!'

D.K. Raed said...

Well well, I was going to comment how fondly I remember the virtual taste of your 4th of July flag-burnt wienies ...

but seeing Che, er um PT, has knocked all those thoughts completely aside! Does this mean what I think it means ... that THE REVOLUTION LIVES?!?

We don't need no stinkin' flags!

Border Explorer said...

Dada, we just watched "In the Valley of Elah" which turns on the flag image. Worthwhile movie.

dada said...

d.k. Ah, it was great to see PT still around and dream - if only for a couple of moments - that there exists out there somewhere the kindling for the flames of Revolution indeed!

b.e. Yes, we saw "Elah." Mostly I went to see it 'cause it was filmed in New Mexico, but came away with much more than I was expecting. I loved the flag message. Glad you liked it too.