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.