During every meeting I’ve sat in for the last two weeks, someone has voiced their displeasure about the flag sales in Harrison. With a permit on private property, but along First Street in Harrison, a man has been set up selling flags. In addition to collegiate and political flags, there are flags with an obscenity on them. No, not “fudge,” the word that got Ralphie’s mouth washed out with soap in the classic “A Christmas Story.”
While as Americans we enjoy freedom of speech, vulgarity included, it rubs a lot of people the wrong way to see swear words displayed so noticeably, and as one meeting goer pointed out, against a President of the United States.
I’ve been thinking a lot about flags this year as our political climate became so volatile. Political pins, shirts, signs and bumper stickers have always been the norm for candidates running for office. And now we see flags. Flags are serious things. They represent countries, states, branches of the military and other institutions. In my opinion, a single name on a flag flown in the same manner as an American flag is a threat to democracy.
Putting a presidential name on a flag feels irreverent. Presidents and other politicians will come and go. Good and bad, red and blue, loved or hated – but our flag and how it’s flown and handled is sacred to many.
The City of Harrison, the Sheriff’s Department and the Cleaver all received calls about the roadside flag sales. Nothing was illegal, but the seller did agree to put tape over the offensive word and continued with his sales.
Like it or not our freedoms include people doing, believing and living their lives in ways we may not agree with. We don’t even have to agree to disagree; we just have to accept that everyone has the same freedom. It’s too large a task to wash their mouths out with soap.
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