I know that it is easy to pass along stuff on Facebook. The wonderful website has made it so easy to pass along funny and important stuff, but it has also made it very easy to pass along ignorance. And, for some, that’s almost all that they do. It shouldn’t upset or surprise me when they do it, but for some very strange reason, it does.
The latest bit of ignorance involves the image to the right. It refers to a poster that was apparently available for sell for a short time on the Barack Obama campaign website. The code referenced does exist, but it doesn’t say exactly what the image seems to imply. Instead, the code says:
Any person who, within the District of Columbia, in any manner, for exhibition or display, shall place or cause to be placed any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing, or any advertisement of any nature upon any flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America; or shall expose or cause to be exposed to public view any such flag, standard, colors, or ensign upon which shall have been printed, painted, or otherwise placed, or to which shall be attached, appended, affixed, or annexed any word, figure, mark, picture, design, or drawing, or any advertisement of any nature; or who, within the District of Columbia, shall manufacture, sell, expose for sale, or to public view, or give away or have in possession for sale, or to be given away or for use for any purpose, any article or substance being an article of merchandise, or a receptacle for merchandise or article or thing for carrying or transporting merchandise, upon which shall have been printed, painted, attached, or otherwise placed a representation of any such flag, standard, colors, or ensign, to advertise, call attention to, decorate, mark, or distinguish the article or substance on which so placed shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both, in the discretion of the court. The words “flag, standard, colors, or ensign”, as used herein, shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, or of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance, of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America or a picture or a representation of either, upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag, colors, standard, or ensign of the United States of America.
I know, it’s a long law. Basically, it means that any person in Washington DC can’t use the flag in any advertisement or place any sort of defacing marks on the flag for an advertisement. It also bans, while in DC, the use of any other American insignia, being used to promote something. So that would be things like stars; stripes; things that are red, white, and blue; images of bald eagles; etc. These are all representations of official symbols of the USA. But…the big thing is that it has to use the actual imagery and it has to be done within the less than 70 square miles that make up the District of Columbia, excluding the embassies of other nations, which are technically on the soil of those other nations.
First of all, the flag has been used in campaign promotions before. Lincoln used it in 1860, but no one dares to insult him or suggest that he was such a bad guy for doing so. No one compared his to violence or called his campaign/supporters a cult.
The Obama Campaign is run from Chicago. I know that’s probably shocking since people think that because Obama is in the White House that the campaign must be there, too. Chicago is about 595 miles away from DC. The website where the “evil” poster is located was registered through GoDaddy, which is located in Scottsdale–about 1968 miles away. It’s IP is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts–about 392 miles away. Basically, the poster could be from any of those three locations, from a technical perspective, and it wouldn’t violate the “within the District of Columbia” part of the law. (The poster would most likely come from Chicago, but determining what state the website lies in might be slightly more complicated, which is why the 2 other locations were included.)
Now, in terms of whether or not this is a flag, it isn’t. The American Legion AND the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) have both stated, via Fox News, that it is not a flag. Instead, they say that it is political art. If we’re going to say Obama is a criminal for his campaign’s use of the flag in a poster, then who else will we go after?
Maybe we should go after the people who made this artwork for the 9/11. Ooh, let’s go after Etsy because they allow people to sell items that feature the flag in some way. Oh, wait, I know who would be a perfect example of using flags for advertising and using flags inappropriately. Mitt Romney. His campaign has 8 products in its store with some form of flag/insignia usage in it. He also managed to not only have pins and athletic wear featuring the flag at his Salt Lake Olympics that he loves to discuss ad nauseum, he also had a pin fashion with his image in it. That has to be just as bad, if not worse, than the whole poster thing.
What I’m trying to get at is that this whole educate Obama on the proper use of the flag thing is just bullshit from the right. Instead of using legitimate arguments against his campaign, they decide to accuse him of breaking the flag code. It’s completely messed up, and reeks of a type of pro-ignorance propaganda that we should be beyond in 2012.
Examples of the flag being used in various creative outlets: