Re: flag on clothing dispute
As Justice Holmes said in the quote down there at the bottom of my posts, the meaning of a symbol depends in part on who is viewing it and on the context. Most people would agree that wearing a clean T-shirt with a flag printed on it is an expression of patriotism. But -- what about a flag T-shirt that is torn and stained with oil and grease? Is the message patriotic ("I'm a hard-working American who's not afraid of getting his hands dirty") or derogatory ("I don't care if the symbol of the nation is stained and torn")? It all depends. Generally, flying a flag that is dirty and tattered is not considered to be very patriotic -- but what about the famous World War II poster that shows a such a flag with the caption "Remember Pearl Harbor"? Again, the difference is viewer perception and context.
"We live by symbols, and what shall be symbolized by any image of the sight depends upon the mind of him who sees it."
-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.