Observations On The Gadsden Flag Controversy

Gadsden Flag

On the Volokh Conspiracy, now featured on the Washington Post website, Prof. Volokh applies his First Amendment expertise to a recent EEOC decision which ruled that a complaint from an African-American that a fellow worker who repeatedly wore a cap with the famous “Don’t Tread On Me” insignia from the Gadsden flag may have created a hostile work environment at the federal agency both worked for. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission called for further investigation, including an interview of the cap-owner’s intention in wearing the symbol, concluding,

“In light of the ambiguity in the current meaning of this symbol, we find that Complainant’s claim must be investigated to determine the specific context in which C1 displayed the symbol in the workplace. In so finding, we are not prejudging the merits of Complainant’s complaint. Instead, we are precluding a procedural dismissal that would deprive us of evidence that would illuminate the meaning conveyed by C1’s display of the symbol.”

Observations:

1. Now this is the slippery slope. Because murderous racist Dylan Roof posed with the Confederate flag, a tipping point was reached that resulted in the symbol and the flag being effectively and in some respects officially banned. The EEOC had already ruled the wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt constituted racial harassment,. Now the banning of historically significant symbols is threatening to spread to a flag that had no relationship to race whatsoever, in large part because of who has chosen to display it.

2. There is a whole website devoted to the Gadsden flag, from which we learn that…

  • It first appeared in October of 1775, as the British were occupying Boston and the desperate Continental Army was dug in in nearby Cambridge, lacking sufficient arms and ammunition.  In October, a merchant ship returning to Philadelphia from a voyage to England brought private letters to the Second Continental Congress informing it that  England was sending two cargo ships to America loaded with arms and gunpowder for the British troops.
  • Congress decided Washington’s troops’ plight required that those ships and their cargo be captured. It authorized the creation of a Continental Navy, then only four vessels, to take the ships. Congress also authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines. Some of the Marines enlisting that month in Philadelphia carried drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a  rattlesnake with thirteen rattles, coiled and ready to strike, accompanied by the motto “Don’t Tread on Me.”
  • That same December, a citizen calling himself  “An American Guesser,” anonymously wrote to the Pennsylvania Journal, saying in part:

“I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, ‘Don’t tread on me.’ As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America…the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America….She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. … she never wounds ’till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her..

I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, ’till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part of the Snake which increased in numbers. …Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living.”

It is generally agreed that the writer was really Benjamin Franklin. Ben had a hand in the design of the flag, since the first use of a rattlesnake to represent the colonies was his own “Join or die” cartoon,

800px-Benjamin_Franklin_-_Join_or_Die

…published years earlier.

  • Continental Colonel Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina was one of seven Continental Congress members on the Marine Committee responsible for overseeing that first naval mission. Before the departure of the four ships,  Gadsden sent the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Navy, Commodore Esek Hopkins,  a yellow rattlesnake flag to serve as the personal standard of his flagship.
  • The symbol and flag, therefore, are part of Revolutionary War history, and have nothing at all, nada, zip, zilch, zero, to do with slavery, race, or African Americans.

3.  This therefore places this dispute firmly in the range of Ethics Alarms’ First Niggardly Principle (FNP), named for another case coming out of Washington DC, where an African-American found a supervisor’s use of the word “niggardly” (a good old English word meaning “stingy”) offensive, and the supervisor was fired, though later reinstated. The FNP:

“No one should be criticized or penalized because someone takes racial, ethnic, religious or other offense at their conduct or speech due to the ignorance, bias or misunderstanding by the offended party.”

4. Did the Gadsden cap’s owner realize his colleague was bothered by the symbol, regardless of the reason? If so,the SecondNiggardly Principle (SNP)  comes into play…

“When an individual or group can accomplish its legitimate objectives without engaging in speech or conduct that will offend individuals whose basis for the supposed offense is emotional, mistaken or ignorant, but is not malicious and is based on well-established impulses of human nature, it is unethical to intentionally engage in such speech or conduct.”

5. Surely, the complaining individual must have mentioned that the cap was offensive to him. Why then would the cap’s owner continue to wear it?  Whatever else it is, this incident is the result of  people behaving disrespectfully, irresponsibly, and selfishly. Jerks, in other words.

6. Disrespectfully, irresponsibly, selfishly…and wastefully. This dumb dispute has dragged on since 2014. Over a cap. With a historic insignia on it. Based on an early American flag. Designed, in part, by Benjamin Franklin. Who was one of the first abolitionists. How many tax-dollars have been spent on this nonsense?

7. From the EEOC decision:

“Complainant stated that he found the cap to be racially offensive to African Americans because the flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden, a ‘slave trader & owner of slaves.'”

Well,  this is res ipsa loquitur: the complainant is unreasonably and absurdly hyper-sensitive. Why isn’t that silly contention alone per se justification for the EEOC to tell him that he’s wasting everyone’s time, and needs to get psychological help? It was 1775. If being associated with a slaveholder is ground for finding things racially offensive, almost everything connected with the United States is racially offensive. (Yes, I know, that is a commonly held opinion, even by some in high places.) If an artist’s or designer’s non-art and non-design related conduct, opinions and activities are to be projected onto their creations in the most negative manner possible, then most art–music, drama, novels, architecture—will be judged offensive by somebody. No culture can survive this attitude. It is irresponsible for the government to tolerate it, never mind encourage it.

8. Also from the EEOC ruling:

Complainant maintains that the Gadsden Flag is a “historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the Tea Party.” He notes that the Vice President of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters cited the Gadsden Flag as the equivalent of the Confederate Battle Flag when he successfully had it removed from a New Haven, Connecticut fire department flagpole.

Complainant is full of beans, to be blunt, and the EEOC should come right out and say so. The Tea Party was not about race. There were and are many racists among the Tea Party ranks and in leadership position, but the movement itself was only tarred with the racist label because anyone and any organization that opposes Barack Obama’s policies on their merits is routinely and strategically accused of racism as a means of political intimidation. Maybe the Complainant believed what he read and heard on MSNBC; that’s not the fault of the cap owner, Christopher Gadsden, or the flag. He needs to examine the echo chamber he has chosen to live in; he needs to read some history; he needs to stop looking for ways to feel like a victim.

9. Are we really going down the path of banning benign symbols because less than benign, or perceived as less than benign, or unfairly maligned as less than benign, or slandered as less than benign, individuals and groups publicly associate themselves with those symbols? It is a back-door method of censorship.

Can anyone honestly still argue that the Democratic Party does not have approach avoidance regarding the American flag, and on not understand why, in light of this case?

10. An insignia or symbol should be recognized according to what a reasonable, objective, informed person would take the symbol to mean, not according to what a confused, hypersensitive individual seeking victim status and benefits chooses to understand it to mean. Nor should an individual’s intent in using a benign symbol turn it into a malign symbol in the eyes of authorities.  Employee X thinks Mickey Mouse is a racist and anti-Semitic symbol because Walt Disney was rumored to be anti-Semitic. Employee Y knows this, and X knows he knows, and Y wants to irritate X. Y wears a Mickey Mouse T-shirt to work, which X takes as harassment. Other workers also wear Mickey-labeled clothing, but since they don’t know about X’s hypersensitivity, X doesn’t find their garb offensive, just Y’s. How would the EEOC rule in such a case? I have no idea. If racial harassment can be found based on an individual wearing a historical symbol that is definitively not racially provocative based on an alleged victim’s mistaken belief that it is racially provocative, then this is, again, Bizarro World. Trying to make sense out of anything is futile.

11. The fact of an investigation is itself chilling free speech. If wearing a Gadsden flag symbol results in this kind of Big Brother hassling, who but martyrs, rebels and fools would dare chance such a display again, even if, in the end, the “victim” is told to grow up? Will any rattlesnake imagery be viewed as harassment, because of the connection to the flag? Any snake? A worm? A National Geographic T-shirt? A poster for “Anaconda”? How slippery is this slope? Who would dare to find out?

12. Would this EEOC find that a “Black Lives Matter” cap is harassing white employees? What do you think? I doubt it very much. That symbol is unequivocally racially provocative, and yes, I take anything related to that organization as intending to convey hostility to me. I think that conviction is reasonable, and I can back it up with facts, unlike the Gadsden flagophobe.

13. The entire episode is the reason why all messages of any kind, political, social, humorous, historical, should be banned in the workplace by responsible management. No exceptions—no ribbons, no pins, no T-shirts with pictures or words, nothing. There are too many people looking for ways to exercise dominion over others by claiming offense and seeking victim status. It’s too bad; in fact, it’s a tragedy. Americans should be able to be who they are and express their passions and beliefs without being subjected to this kind of oppressive scrutiny, judgment and risk.

14. Notes Volokh:

Let’s think about how this plays out in the workplace. Imagine that you are a reasonable employer. You don’t want to restrict employee speech any more than is necessary, but you also don’t want to face the risk of legal liability for allowing speech that the government might label “harassing.” An employee comes to you, complaining that a coworker’s wearing a “Don’t Tread on Me” cap — or having an “All Lives Matter” bumper sticker on a car parked in the employee lot, or “Stop Illegal Immigration” sign on the coworker’s cubicle wall — constitutes legally actionable “hostile environment harassment,” in violation of federal employment law. The employee claims that in “the specific context” (perhaps based on what has been in the news, or based on what other employees have been saying in lunchroom conversations), this speech is “racially tinged” or “racially insensitive.”

Would you feel pressured, by the risk of a lawsuit and of liability, into suppressing speech that expresses such viewpoints? Or would you say, “Nope, I’m not worried about the possibility of liability, I’ll let my employees keep talking”? (Again, the question isn’t what you may do as a matter of your own judgment about how you would control a private workplace; the question is whether the government is pressuring you to suppress speech that conveys certain viewpoints.)

Now let’s get to the 2016 election campaign. Say someone wears “Trump/Pence 2016” gear in the workplace, or displays a bumper sticker on his car in the work parking lot, or displays such a sign on his cubicle wall, or just says on some occasions that he’s voting for Trump. He doesn’t say any racial or religious slurs about Hispanics or Muslims, and doesn’t even express any anti-Hispanic or anti-Muslim views (though even such views, I think, should be protected by the First Amendment against the threat of government-imposed liability).

But in “context,” a coworker complains, such speech conveys a message “tinged” with racial or religious hostility, or is racially or religiously “insensitive.” The coworker threatens to sue. Again, say you are an employer facing such a threat. Would you feel pressured by the risk of liability to restrict the pro-Trump speech? (As before, the question isn’t whether you’d be inclined to do that yourself, whether from opposition to Trump, or a desire to avoid controversy that might harm morale; because the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private employers, private Internet service providers, private churches, private universities, private landlords, or others, they are not constitutionally constrained from restricting speech. The question is whether you would feel pressured by the government to impose such restrictions, through the threat of being forced to pay money in a civil lawsuit if you don’t impose them — and whether the government should be able to pressure such private organizations or individuals to restrict speech this way.)

….Workplace harassment law has become a content-based, viewpoint-based speech restriction, including on core political speech. A pretty serious First Amendment problem, I think…

15. So do I.

 

44 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society, Workplace

44 responses to “Observations On The Gadsden Flag Controversy

  1. Wayne

    Screw this. I have a Gadsen Flag in hanging front of my townhouse and if any of neighbors is offended about this, they can get lost. It’s a welcomed change to the various pretty flags that women seem to put up. One did put up a Jack Sparrow pirate flag. I’m thinking of asking her for a date. Btw, I am annoyed by Co-Exist bumper stickers but I don’t chose to say anything about them.

  2. Rick M.

    I am sure a time travelling General Washington would have some rather dicey input on this issue.

  3. Myron DaMan

    We have begun to encounter a similar problem in what is a most obscure place. Section 7.1.4 of the ISO9001-2015 standard for Quality Systems. Stating –
    7.1.4 Environment for the operation of processes
    The organization shall determine, provide and maintain the environment necessary for the operation
    of its processes and to achieve conformity of products and services.
    NOTE A suitable environment can be a combination of human and physical factors, such as:
    a) social (e.g. non-discriminatory, calm, non-confrontational);
    b) psychological (e.g. stress-reducing, burnout prevention, emotionally protective);

    …and the language continues in the hot\cold\clean\dirty realm.

    Already, we have seen people taking down family pictures, small American flags, and several Southern fellows I know have been chastised for using the colloquial-polite term “mam”. Not to meet Federal, State or even COMPANY guidelines, but an effort to more closely comply to a quality system standard.

    As a Quality Assurance professional for over 20 years…I can assure you that these tweaks at work environment do absolutely NOTHING to improve the quality of a process, a product or increase customer satisfaction. That is nothing with a long line of zeros.

    I brought this example, in order to ask one, pleading question. Someone, please…is this just a phase?

    PS – A great post, Jack.

  4. I wonder how this rationale spplies to the whole trannie bathroom thing.

    Could accommodating trannies by allowing them to use the bathroom in accordance with their identity result in a plausible hostile environment claim?

    • Rick M.

      What happens outside the workplace? Say someone enjoys going to a shooting range does that raise a potential “issue?” Or if someone has a domestic issue does that mean they are a threat to the oppsite sex in the workplace? On and on and on……

    • zoebrain

      “I wonder how this rationale spplies to the whole trannie bathroom thing.

      Could accommodating trannies by allowing them to use the bathroom in accordance with their identity result in a plausible hostile environment claim?”

      “Trannies”, like “Niggers”, is deprecated.

      If someone wrote:

      “I wonder how this rationale spplies to the whole nigger bathroom thing.

      Could accommodating niggers by allowing them to use the bathroom in accordance with their identity result in a plausible hostile environment claim?”

      Then any point they were trying to make would be lost. Naturally, they could claim in return that this is just Political Correctness run riot. Experience has shown though that those who use such language tend to be deliberately obnoxious, there’s a reason why some words are deprecated.

      Now, trying to find the meaning in the original phrase – yes, exactly the same considerations apply when it comes to the concept of “hostile working environment”. Many, many people even today object to working alongside those of a different race from them. They just (usually) don’t say so, as racism is frowned upon, and deemed morally wrong.

      Perhaps there should be special consideration given to bigots, just as we give special consideration to those with very very low intelligence. Shoukd such bigotry be considered a “disability,” under the ADA? I think there’s a case for that, though how good a one, I don’t know.

  5. dragin_dragon

    “If wearing a Gadsden flag symbol results in this kind of Big Brother hassling, who but martyrs, rebels and fools would dare chance such a display again, even if, in the end, the “victim” is told to grow up? Will any rattlesnake imagery be viewed as harassment, because of the connection to the flag? Any snake? A worm? A National Geographic T-shirt? A poster for “Anaconda”? How slippery is this slope? Who would dare to find out?”

    Guess I’m going to. I own 2 caps, one says “U.S.Army” on it because I served. The other? You guessed it…Gadsden. I used to just about evenly divide the time I wore each. No longer. I’ll let you all guess which one I’m going to be mostly wearing now. Guess I’m still a rebel at 71.

  6. THE Bill

    The next thing you know people will be offended by the Scottish flag because it has a white cross.

    • Friends of mine were confronted by some very ignorant Black people in Indiana over the Florida flag on their camper;, a flag which has a cross. My friends grew furious and challenged one of the nimrods to look it up on their cell phone. They did look it up, laughed sheepishly and wandered off…

  7. Phlinn

    Jack, wouldn’t the third niggardly principle apply? Anyone wearing clothing with the gadsden flag presumably cares a great deal about Liberty. Not wearing such a symbol based on an undeniably hyper-sensitive complaint is directly contradictory with the principle being supported. The direct connection between what the symbol actually represents and refusal to back off seems like it would trump the second principle.

    Sadly, I’d bet at least someone out there would consider it triggering to use “trump” the way I did in the previous sentence.

  8. JimHodgson

    “No culture can survive this attitude. It is irresponsible for the government to tolerate it, never mind encourage it.”

    Yet, here we are again. The perpetually aggrieved class will always find some symbol, gesture or word with which to take offense. I am glad that my emotional maturity elevates me above this whining, murmuring crowd, but I am just about out of tolerance for demonizing historic images just because some whack-job displays them or some hyper-sensitive soul takes offense at them. Let it go, move on.

  9. charlesgreen

    An excellent piece. Hard to write so clearly about such a complex topic, but I think you have done so. Nice job, and valuable.

    One gripe, though: the following sentence adds nothing to your argument, and in its declarative absolutism, I would argue, detracts from your much larger, valid point: (emphasis mine)
    “ANYONE and ANY organization that opposes Barack Obama’s policies on their merits is ROUTINELY and strategically accused of racism as a means of political intimidation.”

    • It is true, and it bears repeating until the purveyors of the strategy are shamed out doing it. We are already seeing the same regarding Hillary. Google the number of times the e-mail issue has been attributed to sexism. The focus of progressives and Democrats with objectivity and integrity, Charles, like you, should be and should have been to condemn this cynical and divisive and intimidating tactic when it started (in 2008!). But they didn’t, and don’t, and brush aside the phenomenon by arguing that not EVERY critic is called a racist. Just Fox News, the Tea Party, Republicans, conservatives, Rush Limbaugh, columnists, talk-show hosts, bloggers. I resent the tactic, I resent its effect on American civic discourse,and most of all, I resent the fact that Obama never condemned it and continued to allow his allies and surrogates engage in it to his benefit and the nation’s detriment. So I, at least, am not going to quietly accept this legitimizing of race-baiting, as we head into four years of Hillary girding herself using gender-baiting.

      And in this case and post, it was 100% relevant. The complainant said the the flag was racist because the Tea Party used it, a grass roots organization of ordinary Americans who resented watching an unpopular, sweeping law that the public overwhelmingly rejected passed through tricks and maneuvers without being explained, vetted or read, using one legislative trick after another. That made the Tea Party racist. The Tea Party was a politically naive and inarticulate movement, but it had an important point to make, and the strategy allowed opponents to marginalize it.

      I’m still waiting for a single Democrat or visibility and influence—Clinton would be nice!—to acknowledge…and apologize for…this.

      • charlesgreen

        Jack,

        It’s NOT true.

        I’m making a point of logic here, and you’re missing it. To rebut your claim that “:Anyone and Any Organization that opposes Obama’s policies is Routinely accused of racism” requires but a single counter-example to demonstrably prove its untruth. It is simply sloppy thinking and writing for you to glide past that point of logic, you’re much smarter than that.

        If you must, here are a few counter-examples.

        –McCain criticized Obama for not having a strategy on Russia. Where’s the routine denunciation of McCain for being racist that followed?
        http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/mccain-russia-obama-straegy

        –Bloomberg criticized Obama for having “unreal economic plans.” Where’s the routine denunciation of Bloomberg for being racist that followed?
        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/nyregion/tough-criticism-of-candidates-by-bloomberg.html

        And so on. If you’re going to indulge in absolutist statements like “everyone,” “always,” and “all the time,” you open yourself up to the most simple of refutations. If you’re going to say it is right in THIS case, then make the point for THIS case, instead of using a howitzer to make the same claim about everybody everywhere all the time. You only detract from your point by claiming universality.

        • You can find the disproof of your statement by searching Ethics Alarms, Charles. Prominent African Americans like Morgan Freeman and members of the Congressional Black Congress making general statements, absolute statements, that Obama has faced unprecedented criticism only because he is black, and that his critics are motivated by racism.

          Unless they specifically exempt John McCain, that tars John McCain. Unless Obama rejects that accusation, he endorses it.

          • charlesgreen

            Are you really claiming that because Morgan Freeman made a ridiculous absolutist statement, somehow that legitimizes, excuses or explains YOU making such a statement?

            Would you let ME off the hook if I tried that line of argument? 🙂

            • Not just Morgan, as I think I was clear about. Many, many, many others, including House members and Senators.Let’s see: How about Jimmy Carter? Rep. Benny ThompsonChris MatthewsMaya AngelouMelissa Harris PerryOprah

              (Of course, other Democrats have gotten the memo, to be used for their own benefit)…

              Obama seeds this strategy too. . The GOP’s criticism is “hate,” you see. Hmmm. Hating whom? I wonder.

              Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee?

              Senators? How about Jay Rockefeller?

              When does this qualify as a theme, Charles?

              • charlesgreen

                Jack, you know this one: inductive evidence doesn’t invalidate deductive arguments.

                You made an exhaustive and exclusive statement, which can be disproven by one example, and which cannot be proven by hundreds.

                You’d have been on solid ground if you’d just said “lots” or “many” or even “most.” But you didn’t: you said “all,” and “always.”

                That kind of unnecessary overstatement tends to foster maximum rhetoric, and it’s just not necessary. We need to embrace more reasonable rhetoric in these high decibel times.

                • Quote: “because anyone and any organization that opposes Barack Obama’s policies on their merits is routinely and strategically accused of racism as a means of political intimidation.”

                  This is your argument? That because every single critic may not be specifically named as racist, that statement is untrue? The statement is true because the party, the allied media and the party’s leaders have over and over again made public statements stating that criticizing Obama is evidence of racism. So the tactic is working, and the assumption does not require a specific reinforcement every time. On facebook, an old friend of mine said that he was not going to tolerate racist comments from friends any more, like when they criticize Obama. Nobody rebutted him.

                  Your reply said I was resting my conclusion on Morgan Freeman. I listed leaders, icons, and opinion makers for black Americans from media, Hollywood, politics, Congress…and no one, not one Democrat, not one liberal pundit, has said, “This is crap. We have to stop doing this. It’s wrong.” You haven’t found one example. Where’s that Democratic leader who had the courage to say, “George Bush couldn’t duck critics this way, and neither should Obama.”

                  • charlesgreen

                    I humbly suggest you re-acquaint yourself with a Logic 101 textbook; look for the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning.

                    • You’re looking through the wrong end of the telescope, Charles, and I don’t know why. Retreating to the abstract from the real to challenge the obvious is…what? Desperation? over-intellectualizing what is too painful to see?

                      The message has been sent out for 8 years that criticizing Obama is tantamount to racism. This has created a situation where people are reluctant to criticize, and where the weapon of race-baiting is used frequently enough on critics to make all critics aware of the danger…and to allow partisans to dismiss the reasons behind the critique, as a form of ad hominem marginalization. It doesn’t matter whether the observation of the facts here compel the conclusion, or whether the assertion is supported by the accumulated evidence. In either case, it’s true, and you’re quibbling about how the truth is identified. Why? The same result is reached inductively and deductively.

                      The statement I made can be disproved by you pointing to the liberal or party opinion leader who has openly condemned the practice.

                      Race-baiting has been used as a primary method of discrediting and intimidating critics of this President,the failure of his polices, and the incompetence of his administration. I would deduce from such a phenomenon over so long a period that a massive deterioration in trust between the races in the US would necessarily result from this strategy.

                      Well, what do you know?

                      I would also predict that resentment over this manipulation and demonization would make it likely that a demagogue would become popular and gain power because he isn’t afraid of the consequences of saying or criticizing anyone, including Obama.

                      Well what do you know?

                      Trump is, you may note, now openly called a racist in the press, though, in fact, neither inductive nor deductive reasoning proves that he is, as Ann Althouse showed here…

                      By the way, Kristof’s “a narrative arc, a consistent pattern” that prove to him that Trump is a racist much better describes what I have described to show the pattern of race-baiting used to protect Obama.

                    • I wonder if he has heard of Occupy Democrats.

                    • charlesgreen

                      Jack, I AGREED with you substantively – even complimented you – in the first paragraph of my original comment.

                      I was trying to make a stylistic suggestion about ONE SENTENCE in your piece, which I felt undercut the strength of your point.

                      Again – I was not trying to argue the point, but to suggest that absolutist deductive statements of the type “all,” “always,” and “never” usually detract from the speaker, any speaker’s, intent.

                    • I agree—the sentence was carelessly worded.

  10. pennagain

    What will happen when all the nannies have regressed to childhood?

  11. zoebrain

    Just remember – the meaning of symbols changes. Even the most innocuous and even PC symbol can become tainted through association with nasty groups.

    The perfect example is the fylfot

    • zoebrain

      As a sometime military historian of WWI aircraft, it’s difficult avoiding this common symbol.

      For example, the markings of the Lafayette squadron included a classic Chief’s Head.

      When making models that are historically accurate, be they of RFC, Luftstreitkrafte, Armee de l’Air, or Latvian or Finnish aircraft, this symbol has to be included. Some take offence at that, though so far explanation of the historical context has always sufficed.

      A Gadesdon flag, in the context of the war of 1812, the US War of Independence, and pretty much every context since could not reasonably be seen as being offensive per se. I can imagine contexts where it would be, mildly so, but it’s a stretch, and would have to be a small part of a pattern of deliberately obnoxious behaviour to be worthy of significance.

      Context matters.

  12. I had half a notion to fly 4 flags off my house…

    1) US
    2) Texas
    3) “Come and Take It”
    4) Gadsden

    Except that I know our dictatorial HOA would have a heart attack.

    I can’t help but crack a forbidden smile when the family down the street formerly flying the Canadian flag proudly off their garage complained on the neighborhood website saying “We aren’t happy with someone. We know it happened but didn’t see who did it…our security cameras captured someone shooting using a bow to shoot a flaming arrow at our Canadian flag this weekend and burned it off the flagpole. We’ll be watching.”

    Forbidden smile cracked…

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