Monday, June 28, 2010

Don’t Tread On Dick

According to a report in the Hartford Courant, a group of “former Marines” -- actually, there is no such thing as a “former” Marine -- are attempting to tease Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, formerly called “Richard,” from his hidey-hole, where he has been hanging out since it had been revealed by a New York newspaper that Blumenthal had lied several times concerning his Marine service, or non-service, in Vietnam.

"’As a former Marine, and as the Attorney General,” the group declared, “he had an obligation to direct the Capitol Police to follow existing state policy. The existing state policy allows the Gadsden flag to fly,’’ attorney and activist Deborah G. Stevenson said in an email sent late Sunday. Stevenson is involved in the Connecticut Grassroots Alliance, a group affiliated with the Tea Party movement in the state.”

Capitol Police earlier disagreed and banned the flying of the Gadsden flag over the state Capitol. Apparently, the Capitol Police miss-identified the flag exclusively with Tea Party protestors and refused to allow it to be shown at the top of the Capitol where an assortment of other flags, a gay rights flag, among them, had freely flapped in the breeze while protestors and celebrants at the Capitol conducted their political business below.

The Capitol police first agreed to allow the flying of the flag but then rescinded their decision, following which State Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chair of the judiciary committee, was reported to have said in a news account,“Generally speaking, most people would agree the top of the Capitol is not the place for partisan political flags.”

Benjamin Franklin, among other patriots, would disagree with Lawlor and the Capitol Police that the flag is identified exclusively with modern tea party patriots and constitutionalists exercising their First Amendment right of assembly at State Capitols all across the fruited plains.

The flag has a long and glorious history that precedes the attempt of Connecticut Tea Party Patriots to achieve parity with gay rights activists and members of the Communist Party USA.

Franklin, an early American humorist, in 1751 wrote a satire in the Pennsylvania Gazette in which he suggested that Americans should send rattlesnakes to Britain as a token of thanks for the British policy of sending convicted felons to America. The satire was accompanied by America’s first newspaper cartoon, designed by Franklin, showing a segmented rattle snake over the words “Join or die.”

The gadsden insignia, showing a rattlesnake joined with the legend “Don’t Tread on Me” appeared first on drums, noticed by An American Guesser,” supposed to be Frankin, who wrote in the Pennsylvania Journal in 1775:

"I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, 'Don't tread on me.' As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America.”
Commenting on the rattlesnake, the Guesser went on to say that the rattlesnake, “found in no other quarter of the world but America,” having sharp eyes, “may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance.”

And sounding a note he had struck before, Franklin went on to observe:

"I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, 'till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part of the Snake which increased in numbers. ...

“'Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living."
This is the emblem that brashly declared on the Gadsen flag: “Don’t tread on Me.”

It was this flag the Capitol Police banned from the top of the state Capitol.

It would take but a minute for Blumenthal, himself a Marine, to emerge from his hidey-hole to join in solidarity with other Marines in protesting the slight to a well known Marine flag.

Long may she wave.



"I have no control or authority over flag-flying policies or practices of the legislature, which is a separate and distinct branch of government. Nor do I have authority to issue any formal opinions unless requested by specific state officials -- such as legislative leaders or executive state agency heads, according to state statute. My office has received no request from an authorized official to issue an opinion concerning the state policy for flying flags over the state capitol building. If my office receives a request from an authorized state official to issue a legal opinion on this policy, I will review it and respond appropriately."

It might be interesting were the Marines to request Mike Lawlor, or some other patriotic and conscientious legislator, to ask the attorney general for a formal opinion on the matter. The attorney general, a highly patriotic promoter of Marine causes, sounds from his press release as if he is chomping at the bit to set this matter right.


Blumenthal now has in hand his formal request:

Text of letter to Attorney General Blumenthal, from Sam's State Senate office:

Dear Attorney General Blumenthal:

I write to request that you issue a formal opinion on whether the decision made by the Capitol Police not to allow the Gadsden Flag to fly over the Capitol Building is consistent with the flag-flying policies currently in effect in the Legislature.

As I stated in my letter to Legislative Management on April 9, I believe that the Chief of Police’s original decision to permit the Connecticut Tea Party Patriots to fly the Gadsden Flag was correct under our rules, and I was disappointed when he rescinded his decision on the grounds that the flag raising was to be part of a political event. The Connecticut Tea Party Patriots are not alone in coming here to pursue their political agenda. Denying them the right to fly this particular flag, an historic military flag that can be flown over the State Capitol under our existing rules, because they are ‘practicing politics’ is wrong. “Practicing politics” is a fundamental constitutional right of all Americans.

I respectfully request that your ruling be made expeditiously, as there is a pending request to fly the Gadsden Flag over the Capitol on July 4th.

Thank you,

Sam S.F. Caligiuri


Charles said...

The Capitol Police were going to allow the flying of the flag, the order to disallow it came from elsewhere in the building.

Charles said...

Should have added - excellent essay!!

Don Pesci said...

Really? Do you know where?

Charles said...

Rumors were flying at the time. I'd rather not repeat them because I don't know for a fact which individual leaned on the police to rescind their permission.

Anonymous said...

according to the MIAC report, an internal missouri police document leaked earlier this year. You can read here:

this document clearly states the people who display the gadsen flags could be domestic militia terrorists. Not a marine flag. So maybe Michael Lawlor was on to something.

Don Pesci said...


“this document clearly states the people who display the gadsen flags could be domestic militia terrorists.”

Sorry, but no. The report claims that terrorist groups sometimes used the flag. They used other flags as well. It’s quite different to suggest, as you do, that those who use the flag are terrorists. It is safe to say that Lawlor would be the first to tell you that the protestors who assembled under that flag in Hartford are not connected to terrorist groups. Don’t take my word for it. Ask him.

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