Friday, April 09, 2010

To Flag Or Not To Flag

After complaints from Michael Lawlor, one of the co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee, the decider-in-chief of the Capitol Police rescinded an earlier decision to permit the Gadsden flag to be flown over the state Capitol.

The Harford Courant reported the following day:

“… the approval was rescinded abruptly on Thursday after the Connecticut Tea Party Patriots group announced it was holding a political rally at the Capitol immediately after the flag-raising ceremony. The group had invited candidates it is supporting in the November election.

"'It went from being a flag-raising ceremony to a political event,' acting Capitol Police Chief Walter Lee said. 'They are using it as a launching pad for [candidates for] public office.'"

The paper noted that this was not the first time the hoisting of a flag above the state Capitol has occasioned controversy:

“In 1999, gay rights activists got permission to fly the rainbow flag. That decision drew criticism from socially conservative lawmakers, who demanded that the flag, a universal symbol of gay rights, be taken down. Shortly after that, officials approved a policy limiting which flags can be hoisted at the Capitol.

“Only the following flags are permitted: ‘Flags of the United States of America; a state of the U.S.A. or a political subdivision; the District of Columbia; Puerto Rico; the U.S. Virgin Islands; any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.A.; an Indian tribe recognized by the U.S.A.; any foreign jurisdiction with which the U.S.A. maintains diplomatic relations or its political subdivisions, to include the United Nations; flags of recognized military organizations of the U.S.A., to include the VFW, American Legion, and POW/MIA flags.’”
The new rule governing flag flying at the state Capitol apparently is this: You may fly a flag from the Capitol, but you may not rally under it.

The state capitol police, Lawlor, whose objections were carried in the Courant and other papers, and other dissenting legislators – it would be nice to have their names – do not understand the purpose of a flag.

Would Lawlor, for instance, remain passive if a police authority permitted the hoisting of a gay flag but ran it down the flag pole when they discovered that gays would rally atround it? One hopes he would not.

The Capitol police should be instructed that a flag is not just a harmless symbol. It is a rallying point to call attention to the purpose of a battle, which is why many of the flags assembled in the Hall of Flags at the state Capitol are battered and torn, as was the flag raised at Iwo Jima.

Lawlor and the Capitol police should pay a visit to that section of the building. Unlike Democratic caucuses and backroom phone calls between Lawlor and the Capitol police, it is opened to the public.
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