Lapel pins?

Discussion in 'US Flags on Uniforms and Clothing' started by CultureGeek, Jul 20, 2007.

  1. CultureGeek

    CultureGeek Member

    This question's been bugging me, mostly because I don't like not knowing stuff, and I think someone here would know.

    Okay, I know a flag is not supposed to be "wearing apparel" but does that apply to lapel pins? I mean, uniforms are allowed to include flag patches but it doesn't say anything about jewelry that I've found. I might have missed it or something, though.

    And what about the lapel pins with a US flag and another flag, these... I think I've heard them called "friendship pins"... that I've seen in DC? Is that appropriate and how many of them are displaying the flags in flag-code appropriate fashion? Which side should the US flag be on?

    Now that I'm thinking of it, what about signs and bumper stickers for political candidates. Some of those have the flag on them as well. Are those really an appropriate use of the flag? I don't think any party or candidate particularly has a monopoly on patriotism; to my mind what matters is that you vote, not how you vote.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2007
  2. pins are fine to be worn and dont constitute as wearing the flag. same goes for t shirts and clothes with a picture of the flag on it- so long as they are not made forom a real flag. .pins are usually over the left side lapel of a jacket... i have about 20 flag pins that ive worn all at once or 1 or 2 at a time on my t-shirt. i dont have anythng with lapels on!
    notice the president usually wears one.

    which side does the US flag go on dual nation flag pin? the same as if these 2 flags were real... the US flag on its own right which equals the left side of the pin.
    i have a dual nation UK and USA pin but on mine the Union flag is to the left- but i bought the pin in England - so that is the correct way round for me as an english person in england. i intend on gettin a pin with the 2 pflags the American way rond aswell though.

    as far as bumper sticksers ar concerned in my mind there nothing wrong with sticksers of the US flag either alone or with slogans such as 'these colors dont run' under them
    i dont asee a problem for the flag or its colors being used to get people to vote as long is not for a particular person... theres nothing wrong with one saying dont forget to vote' or 'your vote is needed' or 'vote 2008' on but i do have a problem with those which advertise a particular person because its like saying that particular person is more patriotic than the opponents.
     
  3. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Okay, I know a flag is not supposed to be "wearing apparel" but does that apply to lapel pins? I mean, uniforms are allowed to include flag patches but it doesn't say anything about jewelry that I've found. I might have missed it or something, though.

    Many people seem to get confused about this issue. Here is what the flag code actually says:

    "(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart."

    The clear intent is that actual flags, and parts of flags, should not be cut up and used as clothing. It does not say that there's anything wrong with a depiction of a flag on a T-shirt, or with clothing that is decorated with stars or stripes (cf Uncle Sam!). There is also some language about this in Section 3 of the code, but that provision is 1) only applicable in the District of Columbia, and 2) would almost certainly be ruled unconstitutional if it were ever invoked.

    With respect to patches, the practical definition of a "patriotic organization" seems to be any organization that wants to show its affiliation with the USA. This includes scouting organizations, sports teams, etc. Again, this is not inconsistent with the above paragraph. A flag patch is not a "part of the flag."

    what about signs and bumper stickers for political candidates. Some of those have the flag on them as well. Are those really an appropriate use of the flag?

    In the 19th century, it was common for political campaigns to use US flags that had the names and slogans of the candidates written on them. This was one of the things that originally spurred the anti-flag-desecration movement (the other was the use of the flag in commercial advertising which, ironically, is very common today). All political candidates like to "wrap themselves in the flag." Whether that's appropriate or not is a matter of opinion.

    The only objection that I can see to flags on bumper stickers is that they tend to become dirty and faded. Similarly, I've always been surprised that there are not more complaints about the use of the US flag on postage stamps, where they are routinely defaced.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  4. CultureGeek

    CultureGeek Member

    Message delayed b/c I tried to post it on Friday before leaving and it didn't go through.

    Hmm... see my post on wearing apparel for more questions on the tee shirt issue. I think I'm going to have to revisit that in light of the information you have provided; thank you for the info. I'll re-read the flag code and see what I think.

    Now, the one thing that is confusing is precedent and it's a poser that you might be able to help me clear up:

    Abby Hoffman was arrested for wearing a flag shirt in, if I recall correctly, 1968. I read that the conviction was overturned but I don't know if it was on Constitutional grounds or other grounds. The Supreme Court did rule the Flag Code unConstitutional in 1989* so it seems like the conviction might have been overturned on other grounds but I cannot find the appeal. I would love to read it, though.

    Wikipedia says Hoffman's shirt was a violation of the flag code. Now, they might be wrong; I'd certainly be interested to read the decision overturning Hoffman's conviction for the flag shirt and, if you can find the decision, you can cite it and update the Wikipedia article.

    I thought I remembered something about lapel pins. So I didn't hallucinate that. Thanks. What about the lapel pins with a slogan? It says no slogans but that's for flags. But then it's got that thing with the logos. Another interpretation question that might be fun to explore.

    How you feel about the bumper stickers is about how I feel except I think that any slogan is kind of inappropriate. Which, of course, doesn't mean it should be banned, just that I don't approve.

    *I do think that it makes sense as etiquette, making questions over whether or not something follows it still worth discussing.
     
  5. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Abby Hoffman was arrested for wearing a flag shirt in, if I recall correctly, 1968. I read that the conviction was overturned but I don't know if it was on Constitutional grounds or other grounds.

    Hoffman was convicted for violating the 1968 Federal Flag Desecration Law. His conviction was overturned by the District Court on the basis that "the plain fact . . . that the shirt was not a flag." This was not actually a correct interpretation of the law; its definition of a flag included "any picture representation of [a flag] or any part or parts [of a flag]." The law itself was overturned by the Texas vs. Johnson Supreme Court decision in 1989.

    The Supreme Court did rule the Flag Code unConstitutional in 1989

    Again, the 1989 decision had nothing to do with the flag code. It overturned a Texas state law on flag desecration (and, incidentally, the 1968 Federal law). The flag code was, and is, a set of voluntary guidelines and was not affected by Texas v. Johnson.

    Note that there were actually two Supreme Court decisions dealing with this issue. After Texas vs. Johnson, Congress passed the "Flag Protection Act" of 1989. The Supreme Court overturned that law in US vs. Eichman in 1990. Since then, those who want to outlaw flag desecration have pushed for a constitutional amendment that would trump the Supreme Court decisions.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  6. Tanis

    Tanis New Member

    Peter Ansoff,

    This may sound rude, awkward, unintelligent what have you, but I feel there is a discrepancy in what you stated about the flag being printed on clothing and it being okay. Back history. I am a Veteran of the United States Navy, discharged in 2000. Part of our Basic Training was learning the Flag Code, Customs and Courtesies, and rules in regards to clothing. Maybe I have misconstrued what was acceptable civilian attire with Flag Code attire, but I don't think so. I have a pretty good memory for all things Americana, and I recall being told that even in print if it represents the United States Flag in anyway shape or form it was deemed "illegal" to wear. No swim suits both male and female versions with the flag print, No shirts that Had the Blue Field and White stars on the sleeves, with red and white stripes down the chest and torso of the shirt. No tie died shirts with the flag printed on them. None of it was allowed. It was all deemed illegal, inconsiderate, and absolutely wrong because the United States Flag is a Living Breathing Entity of the United States and it's Military. The Ensign should only be displayed as it is written, when it is permissible to do so. Am I wrong?

    Further Americana should only be Made in the United States and yet we have outsourced everything. You can go to the 99 cent store and buy flags all summer long that are made in China. I know for a fact this is wrong. Flag code being unconstitutional or not it's only unconstitutional to civilians. Active Military Members, Reservists, and Veterans don't get that luxury as far as I am concerned.
     
  7. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Greetings, Tanis! Welcome to the forum. I served a few years in the USN back in the 70s; it's always good to have Navy folks on board.

    First of all, the American flag is not reserved for the military. It is commonly and properly used in the civilian world as well. In fact, the US Flag Code says specifically that it is intended "for the use of such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States." Technically, the Flag Code is not applicable to the military, although some of the services include parts of it in their own regulations.

    The language that you're recalling from Basic Training probably came from 4 USC 1 Section 3. This is a long set of rather draconian limitations on use of the flag, including "Any person who . . . shall manufacture, sell, expose for sale, or to public view . . any article or substance . . . upon which shall have been printed, painted, attached or other wise placed a representation of any such flag, standard, colors or ensign . . shall be deemed guilt of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both . . . " The history of this law goes back to the early 20th century, when there was a national movement to outlaw the use of the flag in advertising. The American Flag Association wrote a "model" flag desecration law, and lobbied to have it adopted by the states. Back then, the US Congress was the governing authority for the District of Columbia and essentially functioned as the equivalent of its state government. Congress adopted the model law for the District in 1917, and it is still in the US Code, with slight modifications. However, the law itself said (and still says) that it's only applicable in DC. It's also very doubtful that anyone would try to enforce it even there, because the Supreme Court decisions in 1989 and 1990 made it clear that anti-desecration laws were an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment. The bottom line is that this law is a historical curiosity that has no practical effect. Also, it is not actually part of the Flag Code, which comprises Sections 5 through 10 of 4USC1. It is usually grouped with the code in reference publications, which leads to confusion.

    Further Americana should only be Made in the United States and yet we have outsourced everything. You can go to the 99 cent store and buy flags all summer long that are made in China. I know for a fact this is wrong.

    I'm 50-50 on the "made in America" issue. US-made flags are generally better quality, and I prefer them for that reason. However, a US flag is a US flag, regardless of who made it, and I don't think there's anything unpatriotic about flying a foreign-made one. The Canadian flag that I fly on my house on 1 July is made in USA, but I don't think many folks would see that as an insult to Canada.

    Flag code being unconstitutional or not it's only unconstitutional to civilians. Active Military Members, Reservists, and Veterans don't get that luxury as far as I am concerned.

    I'm not sure what your point is here. No one has ever said that the Flag Code was unconstitutional. It's a set of recommendations for civilian use, and is not enforceable by law.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  8. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Section 8 of the US Flag Code, titled Respect For Flag, is by far the most controversial in my experience. This section is replete with advice such as "The flag should never be"... §8(d) and §8(j) are especially controversial stating "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery" and "No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform." One's interpretation hinges on what exactly what is meant by "The flag".

    Michael D. Buss, Deputy Director, Youth Programs, Americanism Division of the American Legion, when asked about the appropriateness of wearing clothing that looks like the US flag or has the image of the US flag, once famously replied "Run a pair of shorts decorated with the Stars & Stripes up a flag pole and see if anyone salutes". The implication is that one would only salute a "real or actual flag". Therefore, should one conclude that §8(d) and §8(j) only apply to a "real or actual flag" and not its image or representation?

    But what about §8(i) of the US Flag Code? "The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard."

    Now what is meant by "The flag"? One can't actually embroider, print or impress a "real or actual flag" on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, paper napkins or boxes. Obviously, in this instance "the flag" is intended to mean the image, design or representation of the US flag. So what did the framers of the US Flag Code really intend when using the term "The flag"? Could "The flag" be interpreted as either a "real or actual flag" or its image, design or representation depending on the context in which it is used in the US Flag Code? I welcome your thoughts fellow forum members.

    It is my personal conviction that I would never wear anything that represents the US flag, nor would I paint the top of a picnic table with the Stars & Stripes to eat off of, or put my rear end on a beach towel or chair that looks like the Star Spangled Banner. For me, if you would never wear, eat off of, or sit on an actual or real US flag, then why would you do so with something intended to represent the US flag? Must be the veteran in me...I've seen too many US flags at half-staff and flag draped coffins returning from the battlefield. It just doesn't seem appropriate to see its image on all manner of clothing and other things as a "patriotic" decoration. But that is just me...


     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
  9. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    More food for thought on the subject...As Peter Ansoff noted in this thread on July 20, 2007 "There is also some language about this in Section 3 of the Code but that provision is 1) only applicable in the District of Columbia, and 2) would almost certainly be ruled unconstitutional if it were ever invoked." Peter is referring to the definition of "The flag" in 4 U.S.C. § 3 which is highlighted in bold lettering at the bottom of Section 3.

    §3. Use of flag for advertising purposes; mutilation of flag
    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.
    (July 30, 1947, ch. 389, 61 Stat. 642; Pub. L. 90–381, §3, July 5, 1968, 82 Stat. 291.)
    Amendments
    1968
    —Pub. L. 90–381 struck out “; or who, within the District of Columbia, shall publicly mutilate, deface, defile or defy, trample upon, or cast contempt, either by word or act, upon any such flag, standard, colors, or ensign,” after “substance on which so placed”.

    Interestingly, this definition resurfaced in legislation codified in 4 U.S.C. § 5 entitled Freedom To Display The American Flag Act of 2005 enacted on July 24, 2006 which is applicable nationwide, not just the District of Columbia. For the purposes of this Act, the term "The flag" has the meaning given the term 'flag, standard, colors, or ensign' under 4 U.S.C. § 3. A brief copy of the Definitions Section of the Freedom To Display The American Flag Act of 2005 follows:

    Freedom To Display the American Flag
    Pub. L. 109–243, July 24, 2006, 120 Stat. 572, provided that:
    “SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
    “This Act may be cited as the ‘Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005’.
    “SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.
    “For purposes of this Act—
    “(1) the term ‘flag of the United States’ has the meaning given the term ‘flag, standard, colors, or ensign’ under section 3 of title 4, United States Code;
    “(2) the terms ‘condominium association’ and ‘cooperative association’ have the meanings given such terms under section 604 of Public Law 96–399 (15 U.S.C. 3603);
    “(3) the term ‘residential real estate management association’ has the meaning given such term under section 528 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 528); and
    “(4) the term ‘member’—
    “(A) as used with respect to a condominium association, means an owner of a condominium unit (as defined under section 604 of Public Law 96–399 (15 U.S.C. 3603)) within such association;
    “(B) as used with respect to a cooperative association, means a cooperative unit owner (as defined under section 604 of Public Law 96–399 (15 U.S.C. 3603)) within such association; and
    “(C) as used with respect to a residential real estate management association, means an owner of a residential property within a subdivision, development, or similar area subject to any policy or restriction adopted by such association.

    In conclusion, are you as confused as I am? What say you forum members? How do you define "The flag" when used in flag etiquette or flag display protocol?
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  10. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    I had not noticed that the citation in the 2005 "Freedom to Display" act. It's actually inaccurate for two reasons: first, the correct cite would section 3 of Tile 4, Chapter 1 of the US Code (more often written as "4USC1 Section 3"). Second, section 3 doesn't really include a definition of the flag as such (the context of the 2005 act is obviously referring to real flags, not representations in other media, which is what most of what Section 3 is about). I suspect that whoever drafted the law meant to cite Section 5, which does specify what the flag is.

    How do you define "The flag" when used in flag etiquette or flag display protocol?

    Funny you should ask. Section 5, which is the introduction to the Flag Code itself, states that "The flag of the United States for the purpose of this chapter shall be defined according to sections 1 and 2 of this title and Executive Order 10834 issues pursuant thereto." That Executive Order specifies, among other things, that the correct proportions of the flag are 10:19. This means (I think!) that a flag with different proportions is not an American flag for the purposes of the flag code. This is obviously absurd -- the flags that fly on the US Capitol are not 10:19, and neither are the overwhelming majority of flags that are sold commercially. Whoever drafted that section was not paying attention to what he/she was doing.

    To address your question, I think the answer is that the definition changes depending on which part of the flag code we're discussing. Paragraph 8i, which you mentioned in your earlier post, is a good example. I'd say that the first sentence (about advertising) refers to physical flags, while the rest of it clearly refers to images of flags on cushions, etc. The original 1923 version of the flag code said "Do not use the Flag of the United States in any form of advertising nor fasten an advertising sign to the flag-pole," which would seem to suggest that they had an actual flag in mind.

    There's another item about the original 1923 code that's kind of interesting. It involves what is now section 8(j): " . . . The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel pin flag being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart." This makes no sense, in a couple of ways. A flag is obviously *not* a living thing in any non-metaphorical sense, and what does any of that have to do with lapel pins? Apparently, the "living thing" idea came from an introductory paragraph in the 1923 code, which read as follows:

    "There are certain fundamental rules of heraldry which, if understood generally, would indicate the proper method of displaying the Flag. The matter becomes very simple if it is kept in mind that the national Flag represents the living country and is itself considered a living thing. The Union of the Flag is the honor point; the right arm is the sword arm and therefore the point of danger and hence the place of honor."

    In other words, the original intent of the "living thing" idea was to explain why the union should be on the flag's own right (viewer's left), by making an analogy between the flag and a medieval knight with his sword and shield. The same idea exists in heraldry, where the right side of the coat-of-arms is the place of honor. At some point, someone repurposed this language to explain why lapel pins go on the left, and extended the "living thing" analogy by saying it is near the heart.
     
  11. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Peter...thank you for taking the time to reply. You are always very helpful and add clarity to any topic I comment on or question. I've learned a lot from you since I joined this Forum several years ago!
     

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