Flag Etiquette

I never fail to be shocked by the sheer ignorance ofthe Blindly Patriotic crowd.  I suppose there’s always been that crowd but particularly following 9/11 they really seemed to hit their stride.  At once patriotism could only be definied by one thing, how willing were you to show your love for America while unquestioningly following the government you elected?

Amid this tempest of “patriotism” flags were everywhere, and the more yellow ribbon magnets you could put on the back of your car, the better a patriot you were.  So when  a North Carolina high school banned depictions of the American flag on school clothing, I didn’t have long to wait for the ignorance to raise its ugly head.

John Hawkins writing for the conservative Right Wing News (I think the “Right Wing” there is a dead giveaway) has this to say:

Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re trying to pick, “which flags should be permissible,” it’s a no-brainer that the American flag is allowed — after all, we’re in America.

I’m not sure who’s responsible for this insane decision, whether it’s the superintendent or someone else, but any American school where an American flag isn’t welcome is a school that needs some major personnel changes at the top. Whoever is responsible for this decision should be out of a job tomorrow.

John, John, John.  If only you had bothered to serve in the military and performed in a Colors ceremony, or at least had the wherewithall to learn about Flag Etiquette before speaking, you might be patriotic enough to know that NO SCHOOL should be allowing its students to wear clothing depicting the American Flag.

You see, US Code Title 4 Chapter 1 deals with flag etiquette, specifically how to properly honor and display the flag so as to ensure proper respect is displayed.  Many patriots forget to look this bit of literature up, however, as they proceed to paste the stars and stripes on everything they own to prove just how patriotic they are.

For those not in the know there are two particular sections of this code that are relevent:

(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.


(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.

And knowing is half the battle.  Getting these blindly patriotic folks to pull their head out of their asses, that’s the other half, and not nearly so easy.

UPDATE:  More folks equally ignorant: Michelle Malkin, Clayton Cramer, Gaius, and Liberty Pundit.  All wrong, unless they want to go ahead and call Title 4 Ch.1 itself unpatriotic, which, I suppose I should probably be aware of that.

UPDATE2: Just great.  The American dollar is worth less than it has been in years, we’re about eight to ten months away from an avoidable war in Iran while we are still stuck in the static conflict of Iraq, the Director of Nation Intelligence, desperate to sell his new and improved FISA laws without warrants has lied to Congress, and you people come here to talk about Flags.

What a group of Patriots you must be, all big bikers…  ooh I ride with marines…

I’m a little annoyed, so some things I would like to add.

1)  As I’ve been informed by the “Stop The ACLU’ people, the much maligned ACLU is getting involved, and this will all be over pretty quickly

2)  The Flag Code is law, but is for the most part unobserved law, and, for the most part, in my honest opinion would fall subserviant to the First Amendment.

  a.  Which means for me the wearing of the flag is a personal view.  I am not impressed by people wearing their flag on their shirts.  I can wear a Johnny Cash t-shirt, don’t mean I dig the man’s music.

  b.  You really want to be a patriot, study this country, learn this country, get involved, put on the uniform, reacquaint yourself with American Ideals, and not just your own.  Be a patriot, don’t just wear it.  The thing that pissed me off about this whole post 9-11 era is that people thought that waving a flag and putting a magnet on their car turned them into a patriot, meanwhile, our government continues to erode into partisan hell and neoconservative madness and THE NUMBER ONE REASON is because people aren’t paying the fuck attention to what is going on, and when they do, IT MUST BE RIGHT because America is doing it.


3.  The single number one point of why I wrote this post in the first place is simply this.  I am a LIBERAL PATRIOT of the United States of America.  I love the ideals for which my country stands.  I love my family which I think could only happen in America.  And yet every day, because I engage in the very PATRIOTIC and AMERICAN activity of joining the national debate with my views, I am called seditious, traitor, un American, unpatriotic.  My words have been accused of being Terrorist talking points.  And yes, this happens EVERY FUCKING DAY.  While the people who get to walk on without questioning, without being questioned, the ones who attack me every day for my lack of national pride themselves have in my opinion only the most LAZY of brands of patriotism.

So yeah, some upstart out of nowhere called your patriotism into question.  Deal with it.  I do every fucking day.

Otherwise you can take your male compensation machines (aka motorcycles… excuse me… “hogs”), your self-grandizing flag waving, and your cheap two dollar made in China because they fucking own America anyway magnets, and shove them up your unAmerican asses.


37 Responses to “Flag Etiquette”

  1. chuck says:

    Methinks Mr. Intellectual is confusing the military with civilian.

    Civilians = Free to Show Flag whenever , wherever they please.

    Military = governed by military code

    Or, are you simply attempting to erode and denounce national pride?

  2. George Baker says:

    Moore is correct, of course….. BUT….. he is also making one helluva reach in order to denegrate those who feel enough patriotism to make their feelings known. Moore, obviously, does not share those feelings.

  3. Ah, military stuff. I think I know some of that too, having served myself for ten years. Yes, you will find some military stuff under TITLE 10 of the US Code, and again in the UCMJ, Uniform Code of Military Justice which is largely coveredin the 800 series.

    Title 4 which covers both military, federal, and private displays and respects towards the Ensign, do not solely provide guidance for military personal. Further, it is not my desire to denounce national pride. As anyone who reads this blog and me specifically should know.

    However, it should be understood that the American Flag is a solemn symbol, and I presonally am not fond of people treating it with such a cheap and taudry sense of patriotic one upsmanship that it should be likened to the little yellow magnets on the back of cars.

    The stars and stripes, originally designed by Betsy Ross, displays in the upper left hand corner the “union” a field of blue with stars numbering the states in the union symbolizing the shining light of each of the individual states and the heavenly potential therein, whilst the stripes signify the original thirteen colonies as well as the rays of the sun which illuminate the world.

    Washington had in his day declared the red to represent the mother land of england, while the white stripes of liberty symbolize’s America’s separation from that entity. In more recent times, the red has been used to symbolize the blood that has been spilled to ensure our democracy, while the white has been used to symbolize the purity of our freedoms and way of life and self governance.

    These are solemn symbols and symbols I take very seriously, and the flag deserves to be honored and respect in accordance with the US code Title 4 Chapter 1, not, however, so that someone can flaunt how American they are.

    Further, to what degree do Athletic uniforms play in the military? Or costumes?

    Learn about the country you profess to love first, and then come back and talk to me.

  4. mick says:

    You know, it’s almost ironic. I used to be a hippie, and back in the day the very same people who are denouncing the school for disallowing wearing the flag on clothes were denouncing us for…wearing the flag on clothes. Funny the difference a few years makes.

  5. Whatever fits the narrative man, whatever fits it. I’ll be honest, I’m not thoroughly pleased with the justification the school had with banning it, but still, black and white, plain as day. The American Flag is not a fashion trend.

    (grumble: Why couldn’t I have come up with that last line for the main post?)

  6. Pug says:

    The superindendant of schools explanation wasn’t very good in that he said they didn’t want to be in a position of having to choose which flags were acceptable as clothing. He got it wrong.

    The flag shouldn’t be worn as clothing out of respect for the flag.

  7. The Stars and Stripes, American Chameleon

    We are also shying away from memories of the discord stirred by our flag. We’re not talking about the various Constitutional amendments to prevent flag desecration that were discussed in the 1980s and ’90s, with the bout of legislative hysteria that came in the wake of the Gulf War, when dissenting students (and even a professor) burned the flag as a gesture of protest. Nor about the Vietnam War, when hard hats clashed with hippies in the streets of New York, because the latter claimed the flag as a legitimate sign of dissent.

  8. Craig says:


    I think you misunderstand US Code Title 4 Chapter 1 Section 8.

    The point being made is you can’t wear A FLAG as clothing. (Draping it over yourself or fashioning it into apparel).

    A patch, used by military, law enforcement, etc, is in and of itself a flag and is allowed under those circumstances.

    Clothing DEPICTING a flag, from the wording of US Code Title 4 Chapter 1 Section 8, does not fall under this, in my opinion.

    Also, in my opinion, I totally agree with the flag should not be a fashion trend, but I don’t think it falls under the stated code for respecting the American flag.

  9. Here is another interesting piece on the flag as a fashion statement idea.

    Wearing the American Flag on One’s Sleeve

  10. maha says:

    “I used to be a hippie, and back in the day the very same people who are denouncing the school for disallowing wearing the flag on clothes were denouncing us for…wearing the flag on clothes.”

    I remember the same thing. We freaks (no one cool called himself a “hippie”) used to deck ourselves out in stars & stripes attire to send the message it was our flag, too. And to annoy the old folks. Of course, the old folks decided that wearing the flag on our clothing was disrespectful and would get all bent out of shape about it.

  11. Kevin Hayden says:

    I’m with Mick here. Further, I think the original issue, about the school decision, is a local decision that the locals should decide.

    Most importantly, it’s so instructive to see the rightists getting their panties in a wad about this, but not about 4 million Iraqi refugees and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties. The effing cloth means more to them than living tissue. (and if you’re religious, tissue with a soul).

    Such creeps!

  12. Joseph Eversole says:

    Mr. Moore,

    While proper etiquette regarding the flag does indicate wearing a part of the flag should no tbe done, it is interesting to note that wearing the entire flag is perfectly acceptable. But that aside, the issue here is not one of proper flag etiquette, but control. I do not know the specifics surrounding this school, but I am willing to hazard a guess that at sometime in the recent past a dispute arose over the display of a Confederate States of America battle flag or similiar ensign. I am willing to guess that the United States Flag is displayed in at least one place on school property. Clearly the displaying of the flag isn’t offense in this regard. John Hawkins is correct in his irritation regarding this. Those that fought and died for the ideals that the flag stand for, would more than likely be offended by the decision to ban the flag at a public institution. As a veteran of the United States Air Force, I am offended. If my child were in that school, and he/she had been asked to remove or not wear a representation of the United States Flag, then there would have been issues. If you don’t like something, then don’t look. If you can’t look away, suck it up. It ain’t all about you.

  13. Hmm, nice try JustBarkingMad-anonymous-guy. The posts you quoted as refuting Kyles position were clearly written by me not him. I just don’t see the hypocrisy unless you assume we all share some sort of hive mind…

  14. Brian says:

    Craig is absolutley right. You cannot wear a FLAG as clothing, theres nothing wrong with a t-shirt with a picture of a flag on it or the little magnetic flags on your car etc..
    And just to justify with Mr Moore I have participated in flag ceremonies while serving in the US Army. I do know flag etiquette.

  15. jpe says:

    I am willing to hazard a guess that at sometime in the recent past a dispute arose over the display of a Confederate States of America battle flag or similiar ensign.

    I was thinking Mexican or DR. Either way, I bow to this axiom of discipline for kids: if they can’t play nicely with thing X, it gets taken away. Whether its legos or flag shirts makes no matter.

  16. Robbie says:

    Check out this image: http://www.urbangrounds.com/images/PGR/SSG_Kenneth_Pugh/Rob_Marty_sm.jpg

    That’s me in my biker vest. You may not be able to see it, but on the upper left of my chest is a US Flag patch. The patch on my right shoulder? A U.S. Army Combat Medic patch. The kid in the ACUs? That’s my little brother. Where are we? At the funeral of Sgt. Kenneth Pugh, U.S. Army.

    There were over 100 other bikers with me that day. Almost every single one of them a Veteran, most of them Vietnam era. I don’t think I’ve seen a single ride or club vest that did not have an American Flag patch on it.

    I assure you that these men and women I ride with in the Patriot Guard Riders know more about what it means to truly respect our flag than you’ll ever know.

    Banning the U.S. Flag at an American school is outrageous. The display of the flag should not only be allowed, it should be encouraged!

  17. Robbie says:

    Also — if you’re ever in doubt as to whether or not you are doing the right thing in honoring our troops and our flag? Here’s a hint — when a a line of highly decorated Marines walks your ranks and shakes your hand, and thanks you for your support? You’ll know you’re not just “wearing your patriotism on your sleeve” (even though all of us were wearing our US Flag patches on our vest at the funeral of Lance Corporal Luck Holler, and not a single one of these Marines corrected us on our wearing of the flag):


  18. digthedesert says:

    Wow! What a man of courage behind the keyboard. I would be willing to bet however that if you were face to face with any biker you would likely keep your mouth shut .

  19. Exactly. Please. As though I’m scared of someone who looks like they were rejected from a Village People audition.

  20. Laura says:

    Well now, that was exciting. One of my kids wears a T-shirt that says, “Support the Constitution”. Not sure why; he’s a young teen and probably likes the color(?). I hope those words won’t be banned; anywhere. For me, the flag is amazing and means so much to so many people; I, personally, don’t have a drive to do anything ‘extra’ with it. There are just certain things I tend to let stand as respectable symbols even when I’m feeling extra rebellious and/or patriotic(al). That’s just me. I’m also a sucker for the 4th of July; people used to be in awe of what that day represents.

  21. Yeah, well, we don’t often get that level of excitement around here.

    Actually, this last fourth of july was pretty awesome. We went to mount trashmore, and saw the fireworks up close for the first time since my daughters have been born. It was pretty amazing just seeing all those people and coming together to have a good time.

    When I was a kid, we went to the ball game and then did fireworks, so it was kind of a, I guess it was a side thing. I mean, you knew why you were watching fireworks, but you also went to the ball game and got hotdogs and sodas. This last fourth, it was all about the fourth. No ballgame, just one enormous friggin party, and the people…

    Women in burkas barbecuing, dudes holding hands, rednecks and emo kids, thousands of them and all just loving the space and feeling the free.

    K, need to stop now before I start sounding like a hippy. Definitely not old enough for that one, nope.

  22. Laura says:

    Now THAT was funny! (What’s mount trashmore?) I always had WWI and WWII Veterans around me tearing up when I was a kid and making me listen to them. It affected me, maybe even warped me, but there was awe, yes, definitely awe. Then there was the baseball game, bbq, fireworks, drunken relatives you hadn’t seen in a long time… It’s been essentially the same over the years, only the Veterans are from different wars and there’s a little less something; maybe not awe, I don’t know, but something is missing. Maybe the fireworks have just been crappy….

  23. Probably the fireworks, I think they get smaller the older you get.

    Mount Trashmore is a city park here in Virginia. It used to be a landfill but they renovated it into a really gorgeous place to take the family for the day. They have skateparks, jogging trails, an ENORMOUS playground, and all kinds of other stuff.

    You can tell where the landfill was because it’s this big, long, hill.

    Bands were playing free concerts all day long and as the sky darkened, people amassed on the hill with their glow sticks and such, thousands of aliens on a hill watching a cover band play “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and it was just great. Then we watched the fireworks burst over the lake, and I think I was more excited by my daughters’ reactions than by the fireworks themselves.

    Great time.

  24. Jason says:

    My suggestion is for the school to teach the history of our flag and the Flag Code. Then kids would know that it isn’t proper to wear a shirt with the flag on it. Especially an Old Navy shirt with the flag on it.

  25. I like that idea Jason. You know, and I had to correct myself on this. Obviously free speech kinda trumps this. But to me it seems pretty simple, if you truly want to honor something, take some time, learn about it, and honor it properly.

    Also, I just checked out your site, and I really like it. Definitely keep up the good work.

  26. Laura says:

    Little girls will do that to you. You’re very lucky. By the way, just because I was around a WWI Veteran when I was a kid, doesn’t mean HE was a youngster… I think he was 150yo.

  27. hehehe. Don’t worry, I’m not impugning your age. God, I”m almost thirty, I’m about to feel real old here pretty soon.

    But yeah, I count myself very very lucky. I’ve got two gorgeous daughters who look nothing like me and are smart as hell, they really do make just about everything in life brighter.

  28. Bryan DeLaney says:

    How wrong,

    While you can’t use a flag as clothing, you can have a flag on your clothing. Obvisouly somebody can’t read, or follow insturctions.

  29. Jerry Zemens says:

    Imagine there’s no country…It isn’t hard to do.
    Nothing t0 kill or die for. And no religion too.
    Man, those words seem far, far away today.
    Along with reason and sanity.
    Now, take this apart. Have fun.

  30. Suzanne Devlin says:


    There’s no one who disrespects out flag more then Wall St. and Madison Avenue along with right wing wackos who wear the flag on dirty T shirts or underwear or buy napkins and plates, etc. decorated with our American symbol.

    We see the flag at 4th of July celebrations not as it’s supposed to be displayed but in form or advertising. Most of this transpired during the Reagan years. Most disgusting is that I’ve seen card board trash receptacles with the American flag emblazoned on them.

    Proper flag etiquette rules say the flag is not supposed to be used on clothing, costumes, advertising yet every where I look, most often on new and used car lots, I see the flag used to attract customers.

    This is all disrespectful.

    Decals on dirty cars and trucks and on soft drink cans. You name it, the flag has been exploited and trashed but mostly by this corrupt administration full of chicken hawks who have never loved a war more then the one they don’t have to fight in themsleves but they insist that wearing a lapel flag pin made in China makes them patriots. Gimme a break!!!

    A little bit of history: The lapel flag fashion statement was started by Richard Milhouse Nixon when he was endanger of being impeached. He thought it would make him look more patriotic. And then he resigned in disgrace.

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