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Ban on Flying Foreign Flags:

"WHEREAS, the Pahrump Town Board are United States Citizens and uphold and protect the Law of the Land we are Patriots of this Great Town, State and Country." That's what the second paragraph of Pahrump Town Ordinance No. 54 says (no changes on my part). The ordinance itself provides for several things, but I'll focus on this one:

8. Flying of Flags on residential and business property including land. The Official Flag of the United States of America shall be flown in accordance to United States Code, Title 4. No other flag or pennant may be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America. And, if flown from the same halyard in this order from top to bottom:

a. The Official Flag of the United States of America.
b. The Official Flag of the State of Nevada.
c. The Official Flag of the Town of Pahrump.
d. The Official Flag of our Military Forces.
e. Any other flag or pennant an individual whishes to fly other than a flag of a foreign nation.
f. A flag of a foreign nation cannot be flown by itself, and must always be flown with the Official Flag of the United States of America, union first, from separate staffs. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag, equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States.

For the purposes of subsections a. through e. these flags can be flown by themselves.

Three thoughts, one constitutional, and two not:

1. This is one of the rare ordinances that not only violates the Court's First Amendment precedents, but actually violates the very first Supreme Court decision to hold that a law facially violated free speech, Stromberg v. California (1931). Stromberg held that people have a constitutional right to fly a red flag as a symbol of anarchism. It's hard to see why one wouldn't have an equal right to fly a foreign flag, as a symbol of affection for or even loyalty to that country. And of course Stromberg, while old, is hardly obsolete: It's been reaffirmed and broadened since 1931. That's a mighty strong constitutional tide that Pahrump is swimming against.

2. Not to derogate Pahrump's patriotism as to the great town, state and country, what about people whose patriotism leads them to want to fly military flags above the flag of the Great Town of Pahrump? Are those people just Pahrump-hating unpatriotic carpetbaggers?

3. More broadly, I take it that some citizens of Pahrump are entirely patriotic, and yet want to fly another country's flag -- perhaps because they are patriotic citizens of that other country. (Nothing horrid about that, no?) Is there anything so horrible about a patriotic Pole wanting to fly the Polish flag, even when he lives in America? Or not wanting to fly the American flag, because, happy as he may be to live (or visit) here, he understandably doesn't feel that it's his flag?

Thanks to Sean Sirrine (Objective Justice) for the pointer.

Anderson (mail) (www):
"Pahrump." If I were going to invent a town to enact such a silly law, I couldn't come up with a better name. Sounds dismissive, rhymes with "mugwump" ....
11.20.2006 7:42pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
This might be a case in which the content of speech is important enough to trump the exercise of free speech, similar to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded cliche. Flying the flag of a nation over a plot of land denotes sovereignty, and therefore it could be argued that flying the flag of a foreign country without acknowledging the sovereignty of the United States is an act of rebellion, conquest, or treason.

Perhaps off-topic, perhaps not: Do you have the right to fly a flag that had printed on it the words "Kill the President!"?
11.20.2006 7:46pm
dpw:
The ordinance would seem to call into question the patriotism of the Pahrump Town Board. They claim to "...uphold and protect the Law of the Land...". Yet, they pass an ordinance that clearly violates the "Law of the Land" as determined by the Supreme Court.
11.20.2006 7:50pm
Steve P. (mail):
Mike -- 'Fuck the President', probably pass constitutional muster, 'Kill the President', almost definitely not. I could be mistaken, but exhorting other people to violence is not universally covered by the First.
11.20.2006 7:54pm
Jeff Shultz (mail):
2. Not to derogate Pahrump's patriotism as to the great town, state and country, what about people whose patriotism leads them to want to fly military flags above the flag of the Great Town of Pahrump? Are those people just Pahrump-hating unpatriotic carpetbaggers?

I would recommend that they fly it on a separate staff than the flag of Pahrump in that case. Or simply not fly the flag of Pahrump. The act does say "if flown from the same halyard..."

It's a silly law and likely to get stomped into the legal mud, but you've got to admire their spirit.
11.20.2006 7:58pm
KeithK (mail):
I'd support this ordinance if they stripped the punishment clause from it. Then it would essentially be an advisory for flag etiquette much like the federal flag code. There's nothing wrong with the people of Pahrump (I agree with Anderson - what a name!) expressing the sense that foriegn flags shouldn't be flown above the US flag in US territory, whether you agree with them or not. Trying to criminalize it is a different story.
11.20.2006 8:02pm
Adam K:

Flying the flag of a nation over a plot of land denotes sovereignty


So on July 9, 2006, my local sports bar was Italian soil?
11.20.2006 8:04pm
Dave!:
"It's a silly law and likely to get stomped into the legal mud, but you've got to admire their spirit."

Or be appalled at their lack of respect for freedom of speech and the Constitution.
11.20.2006 8:05pm
3L2007:
A. Do none of you watch Studio 60?

B. Pahrump is a real town, and this is a real issue.
11.20.2006 8:10pm
Jeff_M (mail):
Incidentally, Pahrump is famous for another thing - brothels. It's the home of the Chicken Ranch (not the original Texas one) and several other such establishments.
11.20.2006 8:12pm
3L2007:
C. And clearly I don't know how to post a link.
11.20.2006 8:12pm
Steve:
it could be argued that flying the flag of a foreign country without acknowledging the sovereignty of the United States is an act of rebellion, conquest, or treason.

What planet do you come from where they make such arguments?
11.20.2006 8:15pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
(Quickly running out front to flag pole)

Anarchy has a black flag. Red flags are for the commies.
11.20.2006 8:17pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
I for one would tremble at the thought of going into action behind the Pahrumpian flag.
11.20.2006 8:19pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
exhorting other people to violence is not universally covered by the First.

Yes, but as EV can tell you better than I can, Brandenburg sharply limits the "exhorting to violence" exception. I think you'd have to be flying it at an event where the president actually was, for one thing.

--Oh yes, Wikipedia: "the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."

So, fly your president-killing flag up high. Just watch out for your neighbors.
11.20.2006 8:28pm
Molechaser:

"Pahrump." If I were going to invent a town to enact such a silly law, I couldn't come up with a better name.


This is exactly what I thought when I read the story. "Pahrump" sounds like a name that Dickens would come up with for a town with this problem.
11.20.2006 8:32pm
BoBo (mail):
BoBo weighs in on this one. Dear Professor Volokh got his gord all screwy on this one. Put up the Polish flag and you're in Poland. You've got a sovereignty issue. We need to protect this here land. These colords don't run.

BoBo out.
11.20.2006 8:36pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Do you think Aaron Sorkin knew about this before prominently featuring Pahrump, Nevada and its country ways in the last two episodes of Studio 60? Or can the man just predict the future?
11.20.2006 8:45pm
Wendy:
I guess I'm going to cancel my plans to celebrate St. Patrick's day in Pahrump.
11.20.2006 8:53pm
Stormy Dragon (mail) (www):
>held that people have a constitutional right to fly a
>red flag as a symbol of anarchism.

Isn't an anarchy flag something of an oxymoron?
11.20.2006 9:01pm
John A. Fleming (mail):
I don't see a free speech problem here. If you want to fly a foreign flag in Pahrump, just fly the U.S. flag also, to the U.S flag's own right of the foreign flag. The ordinance allows for that. It's just proper, customary flag etiquette. It's rude and uncivil to do it any other way. That's why we have Federalism. The good people of the town of Pahrump know best how to constrain their passions by passing municipal ordinances that minimally constrain their behaviors so that they may live together in peace and harmony. That such an ordinance may not be the choice of the oh-so-sophisticated commenters who find the name and town of Pahrump to be a source of amusement does not lessen its validity. After all, it must be a very crazy town here in the U.S. that allows itself to be named the very Catholic "El Pueblo and La Ciudad de La Senora de Los Angeles", which is quite probably in violation of Church/State separation. What's wrong with those people? Don't they know that in the U.S., the government doesn't choose an official religion?
11.20.2006 9:04pm
wm13:
Surely if people begin flying Italian, Polish etc. flags without flying American flags, the town will appear to be inhabited by foreigners, which will depress property values. I think it is fair summary of current zoning and First Amendment law to say that anything is constitutionally permissible if it is done to protect property values--well, okay, as fair as one could get in one conclusory sentence--so this ordinance, if supported by appropriate findings of fact, could pass muster.

It's unfortunate that the state in Stromberg hadn't thought to cast the statute as a property value protecting zoning ordinance, but that's why creative lawyers get paid the big bucks.
11.20.2006 9:44pm
Owen Hutchins (mail):

Flying the flag of a nation over a plot of land denotes sovereignty

How about flying the Confederate flag?
11.20.2006 9:55pm
aces:
But if patriotic sentiment is wanted,
I've patriotic ballads cut and dried,
For where'ere our country's banner may be planted,
All other local banners are defied!

--Gilbert & Sullivan, "The Mikado"
11.20.2006 9:58pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
Flying the flag of a nation over a plot of land denotes sovereignty


So on July 9, 2006, my local sports bar was Italian soil?


Obviously. Please report to your nearest Federal detention center.

it could be argued that flying the flag of a foreign country without acknowledging the sovereignty of the United States is an act of rebellion, conquest, or treason.


What planet do you come from where they make such arguments?


It all depends. Who are "they" who seriously advanced such an argument?

Here's another hypothetical: What do you think the response would be if the town of Pig's Knuckle, Mississippi declared that henceforth they would encourage people to fly the Stars and Bars or the Confederate Battle Flag over the Stars and Stripes?
11.20.2006 10:00pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
BTW, Pahrump, Nevada has yet another claim to fame: It was the home base of radio personality Art Bell. Draw your own conclusions ...
11.20.2006 10:03pm
Archon (mail):
RE: Flying a "Kill the President" flag

Absent highly unusual circumstances, flying a flag that said "Kill the President" would most likely be protected speech.

Although not directly on point, Watts v. United States, 394 U.S. 705 (1969) is instructive. The decision had heavy first amendment language in dicta, but ultimately the court relied upon statutory interpretation to determine that crude political remarks do not constitute a willful and direct threat to the President.

Futhermore, the language would probably not fall under the incitement exception discussed in Brandenburg v. Ohio because the flag is highly unlikely to produce immenent lawless action.

Also, although the language is crude, it would probably not fall under the "fighting words" exception announced in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire as modified in Cohen v. California. Even if it did, the statute would most likely fall as being overlybroad as it only bans a particular subset of fighting words (R.A.V v. City of St. Paul).

I hope this answers your question.
11.20.2006 10:07pm
WHOI Jacket:
It's illegal to eat chicken with a fork and knife in my hometown.

Call me when someone gets arrested. Till then, I don't think I'll be losing sleep tonight.
11.20.2006 11:19pm
Chris Bell (mail):
- open snark -

I don't see a free speech problem here. If you want to fly a foreign flag in Pahrump, just fly the U.S. flag also, to the U.S flag's own right of the foreign flag. The ordinance allows for that.

It's OK to criticize the President, as long as you say "God praise our Great Leader" afterwards. What's the problem? You can still say everything you wanted to say.

It's just proper, customary flag etiquette. It's rude and uncivil to do it any other way.

Ah, yes, etiquette = law. Thanks for clearing that one up. If someone doesn't follow this ordinance they will be fined $50. If they don't pay the $50, they will be arrested.

That's why we have Federalism.

That's why we have federalism?

The good people of the town of Pahrump know best how to constrain their passions by passing municipal ordinances that minimally constrain their behaviors so that they may live together in peace and harmony.

In a free society we consider it to be disgusting and tyrannical to constrain what I can do only because you consider it offensive. In fact, you all but admit that anyone who flies another flag will be attacked by people who cannot contain themselves. You think that this means the people shouldn't be allowed to fly another flag?

- close snark -

Who is going to repay the people of Pahrump Nevada when they have to pay thousands of dollars to defend the lawsuit that they will inevitably lose? I guess it's their own damn fault for electing idiots.
11.20.2006 11:25pm
Virginia Postrel (www):
Next up: Only American football allowed, no soccer.
11.20.2006 11:57pm
Fub:
From Pahrump Town ordinance No. 54:
No other flag or pennant may be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America.
Since flag displays can be viewed from more than one direction, I think the ordinance would fail as unconstitutionally vague. Depending on where the constable stands, any display on separate flagpoles of same height would be in violation, or not.
11.21.2006 1:35am
HLSbertarian (mail):
Fub: The (advisory) US Flag Code has similar rules that have proved pretty workable for those that choose to follow them. Since this ordinance can just be found unconstitutional, there's no need to worry about the "...ly vague."

Can a Town Board member be impeached for willful defiance of the law of the land? Or, a better idea, let's pierce the Town Board veil and make the 3 who voted in favor personally liable for the ensuing legal costs.
11.21.2006 1:51am
ImmigrationMarchOrganizersHaveForeignLinks (mail) (www):
Everyone does realize that this ordinance is related to an influx of illegal aliens into the town, right? A radio snippet I heard had one of the town council members saying this was a response to the recent illegal immigration marches. The reader may remember the large number of Mexican flags featured there; one of the ones in L.V. was almost all MX flags. (As discussed at my link, some of the organizers of those marches have very questionable links).

Regarding choice #3, there are millions of foreign citizens who are here illegally and who have no allegiance to the U.S. While there might not be a problem with random Poles flying their country's flags, if there were millions of Poles here who wanted to fly their country's flags and who moreover thought this land rightfully belonged to them, then that would be a much deeper problem. The ordinance might be revoked, but probably not before costing the ACLU a few bucks. (The latter also has some questionable ties of their own).
11.21.2006 2:30am
HLSbertarian (mail):

Everyone does realize that this ordinance is related to an influx of illegal aliens into the town, right?


I'm sorry, I'm hazy on that part of constitutional law. Ordinances related to illegal immigrants get rational basis analysis? Or was that just ordinances targeted against Mexicans?
11.21.2006 2:35am
zooba:
ImmigrationMarchOrganizersHaveForeignLinks:

You just gave GWB the insurrection he needed to get rid of the writ. Hopefully Congress can tack it onto an appropriations bill before the session ends.
11.21.2006 2:57am
John A. Fleming (mail):
A technicality. The U.S. Flag should be the rightmost flag. So in front of a building, looking out from the door, the U.S. flag is rightmost. On leftward staffs, fly any flag you want. It is in accordance with international customs in times of peace to fly foreign flags at the same size and level as the U.S. flag, but when you are in the U.S., the U.S. flag should be rightmost. Where there isn't a reference, if the line of staffs is north-south trending, the U.S. flag should be north-most. If the line of staffs is east-west trending, the U.S. flag should be east-most.


Any flag not representing a nation can be singly flown anywhere, anytime. If you want to fly the Jolly Roger, have a go. If you are going to fly the U.S. flag with it, then following the customary rules above is best.

OK, I was hyperbolic, it's not why we have Federalism, but it's a benefit of Federalism, that we give our governments limited enumerated powers, enabling us to hold them to account, and limit the damage they may do. And yes, at local levels, we decide what is and constrain offensive behavior all the time. Zoning laws, public demonstration permits, disturbing the peace, public nuisance. It's all about finding the balance of rules and freedom that allows passionate and fallible humans to live together in peace.

If you fly a foreign flag by itself on U.S. soil, there's only two reasons for it: ignorance of flag etiquette, or a desire to be rude to your neighbors.

To be specific in answering Eugene's point #3, by analogy. When you are a U.S. flagged boat, you should always fly the U.S. flag at the point of honor at the transom. But when you sail to Mexico and clear customs, you should fly the Mexican flag at the mast, in the customary place. It is rude not to do so, a clear sign of disrespect from you the guest to your hosts. These are not laws, but international customs. So they mean more than any law can enforce. Because they are voluntary.

That's why I think this town ordinance is OK. Trashing our own flag by burning, trampling, etc. as a public cry of distress over the direction of our country is one thing. Flying a foreign national flag without the U.S. flag in the position of honor is just deliberately being rude. In that sense, it's like disturbing the peace.
11.21.2006 5:50am
David M. Nieporent (www):
In that sense, it's like disturbing the peace.
In another, more accurate sense, it's nothing like disturbing the peace. The First Amendment protects our right to offend people -- that's its entire purpose, in fact, since legislatures don't pass laws forbidding people to say things that don't bother anybody -- and labeling it "disturbing the peace" doesn't change that.

Unless the flag flaps very loudly in the wind, it ain't disturbing the peace; it's just disturbing people.
11.21.2006 6:52am
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):

If you fly a foreign flag by itself on U.S. soil, there's only two reasons for it: ignorance of flag etiquette, or a desire to be rude to your neighbors.

Or, perhaps (most of) your neighbors don't mind, and it's just a desire to be rude to your government, which is an entirely honorable impulse.
11.21.2006 7:15am
liberty (mail) (www):
Unless you are trying to claim the land as foreign territory, I can't see how it doesn't violate the 1st to ban the staking of any flag, foreign or domestic.
11.21.2006 8:40am
PersonFromPorlock:
Stormy Dragon:

Isn't an anarchy flag something of an oxymoron?


One, yes. Six or seven, all different, no.
11.21.2006 8:56am
Jeek:
The First Amendment protects our right to offend people

Unless your wish to offend people falls afoul of the BCRA. Thanks, Senator McCain!
11.21.2006 9:14am
Anon1234:
3L2007: The ratings seem to indicate that no one except you and Chris Bell watch Studio 60...

I must admit, I'd like to argue that this is a time, place, and manner restriction, but I am stumped to come up with a content-neutral important government interest that this serves.
11.21.2006 9:23am
professays (mail):
My neighbour has a foreign flag flying at his balcony. Is it a voolation of law sa well?
11.21.2006 9:41am
Seamus (mail):

it could be argued that flying the flag of a foreign country without acknowledging the sovereignty of the United States is an act of rebellion, conquest, or treason.



Anything could be argued. It could be *argued* that the Apollo 11 moon landing was all simulated on a sound stage, or that Esperanto ought to be the official language of the United States. I'd hope that such arguments would be laughted to scorn.
11.21.2006 9:59am
Seamus (mail):
There is a shopping center in Falls Church, Virginia, that has a huge flag of the former Republic of Vietnam flying over it. How would the town fathers of Pahrump handle that situation? South Vietnam *was* a foreign nation, but it no longer exists.
11.21.2006 10:03am
Matty G:
I agree with the great many posters who think 1st amendment rights, as decided in case law, nullify this statute. The important issue here, however, is what are the exceptions.

For instance, I presume that if the United States was under direct military invasion by country X (i.e. foreign troops actively fighting in the United States), the state would be allowed to bar the solo display of country X's flag on private property. Perhaps that's debatable, but i think it would pass muster.

Second case: The United States is at war with a foreign nation, but the theater of war does not include United States land.

Third case: The United States is facing a major regional rebellion that has produced its own flag (i.e. the Confederacy). Obviously, there is some overlap here with Case #1 (flying the Stars and Bars at Gettysburg was probably not ok; flying it at a Copperhead political rally in Missouri perhaps ok;)

I think the question is at what point does the implied speech of raising a flag cross over to implied treason. With foreign troops fighting locally on U.S. soil, I think it completely crosses over. At war with a foreign nation, not on the U.S. mainland, I dunno? Surely it's contextual. Flying a north vietnamese flag at a politcal rally at a college in 1970 is certainly different than flying a Japanese flag at a home on the west coast in Spring 1942.

just my $.02
11.21.2006 10:19am
DJR:
I think John Fleming is kidding.
11.21.2006 10:27am
itinerant:
"If you fly a foreign flag by itself on U.S. soil, there's only two reasons for it: ignorance of flag etiquette, or a desire to be rude to your neighbors."

As a foreigner, I respectfully beg to disagree.
11.21.2006 10:35am
Shawn-non-anonymous:
I spent 13 years living in Vegas. A little background:

Pahrump is a rural town just outside the Clark County line. The brothels are there because Nevada law prohibits brothels in any county with a population greater than 300,000 persons. This conveniently covers Washoe (Reno) and Clark (Vegas). So Pahrump is the closest town to Vegas to support a brothel.

Pahrump is the sort of place you'd expect to find Confederate flags (in spite of the fact Nevada became a state to support the North during the Civil War.) Pahrump is the butt of a series of predictable jokes relating to rednecks. It would be accurate to generalize a bit from there as to the preferences of the current residents. I'm sure this flag law was popular.

Add to that the recent leap in housing costs in Vegas and the large need for low-wage labor (hotel service jobs). This would likely drive development in cheaper areas within reasonable driving distance from the Strip--Pahrump. With its proximity to Arizona and Southern California, Vegas has a large Mexican immigrant population. So, connecting the dots, this is more about Mexicans in Pahrump than anything else.

From the RJ article linked in a post above:

"Town Board member Michael Miraglia said he proposed the English Language and Patriot Reaffirmation ordinance after getting tired of encountering people who do not speak English."


Yuck.
11.21.2006 10:37am
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I don't see a free speech problem here. If you want to fly a foreign flag in Pahrump, just fly the U.S. flag

I've only got one flagpole.

I fly the US flag on national holidays. On state holidays I fly the US flag over the appropriate state flag. I use my City of New York flag similarly. (I'm still looking for a reasonably-priced Borough of the Bronx flag.)

But sometimes I want to fly the flag of another nation, to commemorate a holiday or an event. Since I can't fly it above or below the US flag, on those days I fly only that foreign flag. I figure my neighbors have the US flag on that pole often enough, and they realize what day it is, that they don't mistake my meaning.

(And nth addition to "What a name!" But I didn't know Paducah was a real place until it made the news about 10 years ago.)
11.21.2006 11:41am
BobH (mail):
John A. Fleming: That should be "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora, la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula" (with an accent over the first u).
11.21.2006 11:48am
Byomtov (mail):
If you fly a foreign flag by itself on U.S. soil, there's only two reasons for it: ignorance of flag etiquette, or a desire to be rude to your neighbors.

Or to express a political opinion, or to identify one's home country, or because it looks nice, or to support a national team in something like the World Cup, or to welcome a foreign visitor, or to advertise the type of food served at one's restaurant, or to recognize a special event or holiday, or...
11.21.2006 11:52am
David Chesler (mail) (www):

The First Amendment protects our right to offend people



Unless your wish to offend people falls afoul of the BCRA. Thanks, Senator McCain!


But Lt. Paul Vernon of the LAPD counters:

"There's still free speech in the United States of America - even if you don't agree with it. Merely uttering some word is not a crime."
11.21.2006 11:58am
John A. Fleming (mail):
I learned about the international customs of flag flying from "Chapmans's Book of Piloting". This maritime book has quite an extensive discussion of the traditions and etiquette of proper flag flying for ships at sea and in port. These etiquettes have been been established over many hundreds of years as a way of signaling unequivocally to others who you are and what your intentions are. You can make up all the reasons you want for flying by itself a foreign nation flag on U.S. soil, but those reasons aren't valid, in the sense that they are valid only to you, and neither known or understood by anyone else.

Also, I am trying to be precise in my meaning, by limiting it to "flying the flag". This is normally meant on a staff, carrying it in a parade, hung from a balcony, etc. The customs for decals, lapel pins, animated GIFs, etc. are more ambiguous, and don't have the same meaning as the flag itself flying in the breeze.

Here's an attempt at an analogy. You may think a valid exercise of your free speech rights is to walk down the street and be rude to everyone you meet, cuss them out, whatever. I'm sure you will have a very good and valid reason for it. Eventually you will come to the attention of the local police, who will kindly ask you to take it home and be rude to the people you see on TV. If you persist, the police will take you to see the Judge, who will hit you with a disturbing the peace citation. If you persist, citing your First Amendment rights and your valid reasons, the Judge will give you the opportunity to exercise your First Amendment rights with fellow citizens who are temporary clients of the Justice system. I doubt those fellow citizens will think much of your reasons.

In this sense, rudeness and politeness are near-absolutes, in that they exist independent of your desire to re-define them. And rudeness for rudeness sake is questionably protected speech. It depends on the venue.

Trying to summarize, flags are an unambiguous signaling system, from you to others. When you publicly fly flags in a particular way, it means what it means, not what you want it to mean. And flying a foreign nation flag superior to the US flag on US soil is just plain rude. There aren't any arguments you can make that make it non-rude. It is not normally against the law, it's just long established customs. Apparently the elected representatives of the good people of Pahrump have decided to empower their police to limit such rude displays.

I'm just trying to respond to Eugene and state some counter-reasons why I think Stromberg doesn't apply. if it's a) a foreign nation flag, b) publicly flown, c) superior to the U.S. flag, and d) not out of ignorance, then e) it's public rudeness for rudeness sake.
11.21.2006 1:52pm
ImmigrationMarchOrganizersHaveForeignLinks (mail) (www):
HLSbertarian, zooba: The political backdrop is that many cities are proposing similar ordinances designed to reduce the numbers of illegal aliens coming to their towns. A list of some of those cities is at the end of this article. On Sunday, 60 Minutes visited Hazleton, PA, which was one of the first such cities. In most of the cases the ACLU or similar groups has threatened to sue the towns or has sued.

Two of the groups suing Escondido (MALDEF and the local ACLU chapter) are part of a new group called the BorderHumanRightsWorkingGroup which, AFAIK, has no involvement in the suits. However, three other members of that group are openly working with the MexicanGovernment.

And, a Georgia march and a boycott were organized by a former MexicanConsulGeneral. The march was led by two elected Democrats, and, while U.S. flags were most likely passed out to participants as in other similar marches, I'd be surprised if there weren't any Mexican flags.

As for zooba's "insurrection" comment, generally speaking it's a bad thing for hundreds of thousands of foreign citizens to start marching in your streets, waving their country's flag and making demands. If we don't give in to those demands (with an amnesty), what could happen? And, are you sure you understand Bush's role in all of this?
11.21.2006 1:58pm
markm (mail):
"Unless you are trying to claim the land as foreign territory, I can't see how it doesn't violate the 1st to ban the staking of any flag, foreign or domestic."

I think what inspired this ordinance is that some Mexicans seem to have forgotten why they left their own country and have made public statements like they want to claim American land as Mexican territory. Not that this ordinance (or anything a local government can do under ordinary circumstances) is an appropriate response to that.

"Isn't an anarchy flag something of an oxymoron?" As someone already said, a red flag is Communist, the anarchist flag is black. And of course, everyone has to carry his own. ;-) I figure it's plain black because they couldn't agree on any symbols or even a color, so that left black or white, and a white flag already had a meaning that wasn't consistent with their goals. (I think plain black had some sort of sinister meaning, but that was just fine with the anarchists.)
11.21.2006 2:15pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Trying to summarize, flags are an unambiguous signaling system, from you to others. When you publicly fly flags in a particular way, it means what it means, not what you want it to mean. And flying a foreign nation flag superior to the US flag on US soil is just plain rude.

I've seen violations of the Flag Code etiquette on flagpoles around my city. I figured it was ignorance, but now that I know it's intentional rudeness, should I suspect that Sacha Baron Cohen is testing me to see just how much anti-Americanism I will tolerate?

I have seen foreign-over-US, but more often I see US tattered, or US in foul weather, or US unlighted at night. (Just how lighted does it have to be? I'm near a streetlight, but somebody suggested it had to be a dedicated light, so I screwed a socket to the side of my house, adding to the light pollution.) Particularly I see foreign without US to its left. I've always thought it meant Canadian-Americans live here, or Irish-Americans live here, or Italian-Americans live here. I still think that's what the flyers of those flags intend, but what does it really mean?
11.21.2006 3:39pm
That Lawyer Dude (mail) (www):
AdamK, On July 9th 2006 all land was Italian Soil. Viva Azzure! TLD
11.21.2006 3:41pm
Mike G in Corvallis (mail):
it could be argued that flying the flag of a foreign country without acknowledging the sovereignty of the United States is an act of rebellion, conquest, or treason.


Anything could be argued. It could be *argued* that the Apollo 11 moon landing was all simulated on a sound stage, or that Esperanto ought to be the official language of the United States. I'd hope that such arguments would be laughted to scorn.


To use technical terminology: Well, duh!

Think of all this as an application of Clarke's Second Law ...

Here's another hypothetical, suggested in a more serious vein. Suppose you own a pleasure boat or a merchant vessel. You take it out to international waters, strike the U.S. flag and hoist the colors of Mexico, or Cuba, or North Korea, and then sail back to a United States port. What are the legal ramifications?
11.21.2006 4:15pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
Suppose after a protracted battle involving thousands of enemy and friendly troops, with a casualty rate as high as 75%, you raise the US flag on Mt. Suribachi -- don't you see how this is exactly analogous to flying an Italian flag in your front yard?

Suppose you wish to call attention to your garage sale, and you hoist flags onto your garage indicating that both the admiral and a pilot are on board...
11.21.2006 4:41pm
KeithK (mail):

If you fly a foreign flag by itself on U.S. soil, there's only two reasons for it: ignorance of flag etiquette, or a desire to be rude to your neighbors.

Or to express a political opinion, or to identify one's home country, or because it looks nice, or to support a national team in something like the World Cup, or to welcome a foreign visitor, or to advertise the type of food served at one's restaurant, or to recognize a special event or holiday, or...

All of those reasons may be perfectly good reasons to want to fly a foreign flag. But that just means that you don't fall into John Fleming's second category - you are not intentionally being rude to your neighbors. But you are still violating flag etiquette, either intentionally or out of ignorance. I don't agree with criminalizing breaches of etiquette (because lord knows I'd be in trouble) but I think it is reasonable to lay out what is or isn't appropriate.
11.21.2006 5:19pm
NickM (mail) (www):
I nominate the following for comment of the week:

(link)PersonFromPorlock:
Stormy Dragon:


Isn't an anarchy flag something of an oxymoron?



One, yes. Six or seven, all different, no.



Nick
11.21.2006 7:31pm
doubting thomas (mail):
Isn't there a title of the US Code that deals with flags and other symbols? If so, there could be preemption issues. Not to mention the problems that would arise is a foreign government opened a consulate in Pahrump or Podunk or BFE.
11.21.2006 10:15pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
No one should have to point out the obvious, but there's a good reason why there has developed a fairly standard etiquette regarding the flying of flags at sea -- namely you wanna know where the ship comes from.

It's wrong, however, to analogize those rules to the flying of flags on foreign soil. No one would seriously mistake an Italian restaurant flying an Italian flag as an affirmative declaration of Italian occupation.
11.21.2006 11:42pm
Randy R. (mail):
And let us not forget the rainbow flag. That will surely land some people in hot water in some communities not matter HOW it's shown!
11.22.2006 1:55am
Shawn-non-anonymous:
In the Pahrump case, it was a painted-on Mexican flag on restaraunt signage over a painted on US flag.

This has nothing to do with flags and everything to do with anti-mexican bigotry.

(And isn't it a good thing a Mexican restaraunt flying a mexican flag in the Mojave desert won't be confused with a ship at sea?)
11.22.2006 8:41am
hmmmmmmmm_mm:

"Town Board member Michael Miraglia said he proposed the English Language and Patriot Reaffirmation ordinance after getting tired of encountering people who do not speak English."



Yuck.


Explain "yuck" - I don't get what's so yucky.
11.22.2006 3:40pm
Allen Asch (mail) (www):
Regarding Pahrump and Studio 60, see my 3 minute 51 second YouTube video at: A Culture War Between Hollywood and Pahrump, Nevada?

My video includes Studio 60 clips and news clips from the real Pahrump
11.24.2006 4:20pm