Upside Down Flag Dilemma

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  1. Joelle Burnette profile image70
    Joelle Burnetteposted 14 years ago

    What do you think about the Wisconsin man (an Iraq war veteran) who flew the American flag upside down outside his business in protest of the local government not granting him a liquor license after spending $200,000 to renovate a building into a supper club?

    The sheriff went on his property on Independence Day and confiscated the man's flag because townspeople were upset by the display and didn't want it flying that way during the July 4th parade through this town of 1,000 people.

    According to the sheriff, it is illegal to cause a disruption.

    Your thoughts?

    1. Paper Moon profile image61
      Paper Moonposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      It was his constitutional right.  That is the greatest thing about our flag.  It stands for the freedom to hang it upside down or burn it in protest.  Gotta love this country.  Gotta fear the government (and some of its people) once in a while, but damn, what a great country.

      1. Davinagirl3 profile image61
        Davinagirl3posted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I agree.

    2. manlypoetryman profile image78
      manlypoetrymanposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Well...First off...Thank you to this guy for serving our country.
      Second Off...There isn't one part about this that is the military they would call this a big cluster-"______". The city is wrong in how they have not helped this man obtain his license...the sheriff is way wrong in having any part of this...and the Veteran...well...I'm sorry...but many of the men and women he fought with...Fought with their flag raised high...and sitting in the correct position. I get the distressed meaning of flipping it over...and he is accurate...we are distressed...However...I don't agree with turning it upside down. Let me just say that I know many that have fought to back that flag...just the way it stands!

      If you got a "beef" with the local government...launch a protest rally...or post some signs for the media to take pictures of at your downtown location (always a good place to get real good attention!). It is time we started playing the politicians games...and doing it better than they do! Since, they never listen to us or somebody trying to make a reasonable point...then...we need to speak in volumes with volumes of people (ie.voters-the only time they listen to us!). And, do so very easily...and that is our right, as well. Just, please honor the flag...for anything and everything...many have before us...and that is what has gotten us to this day...such as it may be at present! Again: Many have fought for that flag and what it stands just exactly the correct position that the flag is suppose to stand!

      1. Joelle Burnette profile image70
        Joelle Burnetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I agree with some of what you said, but it is unfortunate that people seem to forget, our citizens are not fighting for the flag, only for what it represents -- of the two choices, it is our rights to do exactly what he did that should be fought for. Still, I realize people put great meaning into the flag and that is exactly why this man took the action he protest.

        Obviously, he didn't require a huge rally since this issue from a small town, without so much as a loud shout from this guy and only his upside down flag display, that simple, yet expressive, action was enough to reach across our country. Moreover, now, thanks to outlets such as hubpages, his issue reaches across the oceans, to create discussion and debate about his protest and his rights as an American. Not bad coverage, I'd say.

        For a politician to gain that kind of attention, he (yes, he) needs to admit to having affairs or being caught in a highway rest stop screwing some guy in the toilet.

        I'm just glad I live in a country where I'm not going to be arrested for saying what I have on these pages; because of my rights as an American (whose father and sister both served in the military) and I do so absent fear of dire consequence.

  2. Lisa HW profile image61
    Lisa HWposted 14 years ago

    Anyone familiar with some of the ways local and state governments often operate knows that our Constitutional rights are often completely disregarded.  Sometimes you wonder what good it does us to have Constitutional rights when on the local level people run roughshod over them all the time, and nobody is paying attention.  What rights a document in Washington D.C. says we have, and what rights we really have, aren't necessarily the same thing.

  3. profile image0
    Nelle Hoxieposted 14 years ago

    Political and dissident speech are the most protected speech in the US. If he wants to go to the time expense of fighting it, perhaps to the Supreme Court, he will win in court.

    Not all speech is as protected in the US and people don't understand that. Commercial speech, such as signs are often regulated, such as certain areas prohibiting billboards and regulating the size and content of signs.

    Liquor licenses are one of the most contentious and competitive licenses in the US. They are some the most political, because of the money that can be made from them. It is often the case of "who you know" to get or keep one.

    If you choose to play in the liquor store business, you know the risks.

  4. AEvans profile image73
    AEvansposted 14 years ago

    Being a veteran he is disrespecting his Country that he fought for. Anyone who flies there flag upside down as some underlying issues. I understand his anger but he should never disrespect his Country. I am certain our founding forefathers are turning over in the

    1. my-success-guru profile image56
      my-success-guruposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Looks like another heated debate here!

    2. profile image0
      Nelle Hoxieposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      For the record, I would NEVER fly the American flag upside down. I agree it is very disrespectiful. And I don't think warranted by the facts in this case. But he did.

      Actually our founding fathers were a bunch of revolutionaries. Who often disagreed with their government over tax policies, and believed in politcal speech. What they would think who knows.

      1. Joelle Burnette profile image70
        Joelle Burnetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        I read that flying the flag upside down is (legally) a sign of distress to person or property. If you put $200,000 of your savings into a business and were turned down for a license that would make or break the business, wouldn't you feel like this was a clear sign of distress to your property?

        It is unfortunate that the reporter on this story didn't mention anything about whether this supper club owner approached this project with some sort of prior understanding about acquiring this liquor license. I don't know much about how to get this type of license, but I do know I wouldn't gamble with that much money if there was little chance of obtaining it.

    3. Joelle Burnette profile image70
      Joelle Burnetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Actually, based on the recorded philosophies of our founding fathers -- and because they were revolutionaries -- they would be rather proud that our citizens continue to test the boundaries of our freedoms and would agree it is our duty to stand up for our beliefs. The beauty of our Bill of Rights and the freedom of speech is that you may not agree with or like what someone says and how they express it, but if you want to voice your opinion, you must allow others to voice their own.

    4. LondonGirl profile image81
      LondonGirlposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      "My country right or wrong"? I don't agree with that. If free speech means anything, surely it includes the right to disrespect a country, too?

      As an aside, there are factories which make UK, Israeli and US flags pre-impregnated with accelerants for easy burning at street protests. They're rather wasting their time with the UK flag, we aren't that bothered if people choose to burn it.

      1. Sufidreamer profile image78
        Sufidreamerposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Same here - there is a nightly satirical program that flies the Greek flag upside-down. Nobody cares smile

    5. TheMoneyGuy profile image69
      TheMoneyGuyposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      As a veteran he has the most reason to disrespect this country, and the most right to do it.  Anyone who volunteers their life and soul can say whatever the hell they like.  IMHO. 

      What makes this country so great is those that don't make that sacrifice are given the same privilege.


      1. Misha profile image63
        Mishaposted 14 years agoin reply to this

        Voice of reason, bro smile

  5. RooBee profile image80
    RooBeeposted 14 years ago

    IMHO, whether we agree with this man's sentiment or whether he's taking issue with the right or wrong party, he should be able to fly his flag upside down if he wants to. That is precisely the kind of thing we are talking about when we discuss how lucky US citizens are to be able to voice our opinions even if they are negative toward the government, the country itself, or whatever.
    I think that it's a political statement the man chose to make and if citizens driving by are really that affected by it they can surely look away and go on about their day relatively unscathed by having seen it.
    I, too, feel that he would win in the Supreme Court as far as being granted the right to fly his flag that way. To top it off, the guy is a vet - I'm not going to go tell him he can't do as he pleases in voicing his opinion! smile

  6. Uninvited Writer profile image77
    Uninvited Writerposted 14 years ago

    Would many of you be saying the same thing if he had burned an American flag?

  7. profile image0
    Nelle Hoxieposted 14 years ago

    Yes it's protected free speech. The most protected kind of free speech. And it doesn't matter if he's a veteran or not. Of course this is one of the most hot button issues in the US. Always provokes a fight.

    Our history - from the flag at Fort McHenry that inspired the Star Spangled Banner to the picture at Iwo Jima - is very much wrapped in the imagery of the American flag. And I'm not immune from the emotional nature of this discussion.

    But that is why we are a nation of laws. To protect those who don't see it the way we do. And that is what I respect most.

    I heard Frank Borman, American astronaunt on Apollo 8, speak. He said the whole point of the space race, was that Kennedy wanted the American flag on the moon, before any other flag. It was never about science or exploration.

  8. Pete Maida profile image60
    Pete Maidaposted 14 years ago

    I think it was a silly protest; it would do not the guy any good and he was only going to receive the anger of his fellow citizens.  The police would have the right to remove the flag or have it flown properly because to flag an American flag upside down is a distress signal.  If he is not in distress he shouldn't be displaying the flag in that manner.
    As far as desecrating the flag goes; this is an issue that I have a very hard time with.  I know this is a free country and we have the right to protest.  I am very big on individual rights but it just crushes me somehow to see our flag damaged or soiled in anyway.  I know my person feelings should not be in the issue but I can't help it.

    1. Joelle Burnette profile image70
      Joelle Burnetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I tend to disagree...Do you not protest something you believe is wrong just because it might look bad to your neighbors? Screw that! If you believe in something strongly enough and protest peacefully, it is your right and responsibility to do so, especially when it is our government that is responsible for creating the storm in the first place.

      By the way, the ACLU is getting involved in this case because the sheriff went on his land and took his property; a piece of property specifically designed to protest peacefully.

      And the fact that they took down (or entered illegally and stole -- you choose the appropriate semantics) the flag on Independence Day -- a day to recognize the efforts of our founding fathers, specifically their great measure of protest, to break away from an opressive government -- adds insult to injury to this man's protest against his own government.

      I just hope he wasn't turned down for this liquor license for some ridiculous reason like having a neighbor in office who dislikes him because he doesn't mow his lawn enough...I understand getting one of these very sought-after licenses depends a lot on who you know in the government.

  9. profile image0
    Nelle Hoxieposted 14 years ago

    Joelle liquor licenses are never a sure thing. If you rely on that for making a living, you better know your local politics. I'm not saying that that's right, I'm saying that's the way it is.

    Using the flag as a signal of distress is for physical nature in need of rescue. No this is not that kind of distress.

  10. profile image0
    Nelle Hoxieposted 14 years ago

    What bothers really bothers me is that this was a very peaceful protest, and they took that away from him. I always worry that things like this will escalate and it will become violent. Tempers really flare up over issues like this.

  11. RooBee profile image80
    RooBeeposted 14 years ago

    Exactly. I think it's irrelevant how deeply one individual or another feels about the flag as a symbol. This is one of those things that can lead to violence and hatred because as Nellie pointed out, it is a very inflammatory issue. Hot-button, for sure!!
    I do think it matters that he's a vet - if only for the sake of this conversation- since then it can't be claimed that he doesn't love his country or any other of that nonsense that gets thrown around.

  12. profile image0
    Nelle Hoxieposted 14 years ago

    London Girl are there "patriotic" symbols in England, that do bring out the same types of emotion as the flag in the US?

    I've always marveled at the stoic courage of the English and Londoners in particular.

  13. profile image0
    Leta Sposted 14 years ago

    Yeah, sorry.  I never understood this on any level...or felt empathy for those who believe flags should be 'respected.'

    Right...I'm wondering if they protest when graphic designers use flags to promote and advertise, oh, plumbing accessories like toilets on Memorial Day?  Or--how about that lovely fake photoshopped photo of Sarah Palin wearing the US flag bikini?

    Certainly this is much more crass usage than what the gentleman in question has done.

    1. Joelle Burnette profile image70
      Joelle Burnetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Sara right!

  14. LondonGirl profile image81
    LondonGirlposted 14 years ago

    I don't think there are, we don't generally get all upset about symbols.

  15. Uninvited Writer profile image77
    Uninvited Writerposted 14 years ago

    Same in Canada, we fly the flag but it's not more important than the people who live here.

  16. profile image0
    Nelle Hoxieposted 14 years ago

    It's interesting to learn about the cultural differences among us. I wonder if there's things you guys get upset about, that we stay cool over.

    1. Uninvited Writer profile image77
      Uninvited Writerposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      I don't think so smile

    2. Sufidreamer profile image78
      Sufidreamerposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Can't think of anything off the top of my head, but there must be a few things. I don't know American culture well enough to know what annoys you and what doesn't smile

  17. bgpappa profile image81
    bgpappaposted 14 years ago

    One of the purposes of Free Speech is to give the minority a voice to oppose the majority.  Here, a guy was peacefully voicing his dispeasure with the government and the majority told him to be quiet and the state (Sheriff) entered his property withoiut permission or just cause and removed his personal property.

    I can understand hating that people burn the flag.  But the point of the Bill of Rights is to protect the minority whose ideas are always going to upset the majority.  I don't often agree with the cases the ACLU bring, but on this one I hope they win big.

    1. Joelle Burnette profile image70
      Joelle Burnetteposted 14 years agoin reply to this

      Precisely. Unfortunately, sometimes when you live in a small town, it is the voice of strong opinion that gets squashed. I've seen it happen and it's not pretty.

      I hate the idea of clogging the courts, but surely this sheriff's department needs to be reminded of their duties and their oath to uphold the law of this land, especially the Bill of Rights.

  18. wesleycox profile image72
    wesleycoxposted 14 years ago

    As an American soldier serving in Iraq, I think that the guy could have handled things differently.  Simply put though, flying the flag upside down is a sign of distress.  In no way is that a dishonoring of the flag.  Letting it fall to the ground and burning it are dishonorable acts.  The sheriff, of course, had a right to confiscate this man's flag.  The local law stated something about disturbances.  This act apparently disturbed his community so he was within the limits of his elected job.
    I do think that the business owner should not have flown the flag upside down, especially on the fourth of July. No harm no foul.

  19. Dame Scribe profile image59
    Dame Scribeposted 14 years ago

    Jus the other day was shown how a marine carried the Canadian flag upside down (was national news @ a game) which upset some people but me and my sons (indigenous people) were amused and a tad ruffled. Examining it came up with the sense of *disrespect* whether from US or the marine either way, the point was the disrespect. As for that vet, I would think he was dishing back what he feels was dished out. Tit for tat, etc. Not right either n maybe childish but a dream was squashed n can bring out the worst in some of us but was least done in a somewhat *harmless* manner. hmm n WesleyCox smile thank you so much for your service.

  20. wesleycox profile image72
    wesleycoxposted 14 years ago

    Thanks Dame for your appreciation.  That is what makes what I do all worthwhile


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