What you aren’t being told about the Valdosta flag incident

Image Source: Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas

Image Source: Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas, Texas

Valdosta, Georgia (TFC) – The flap over a protest that involved walking on the American flag made headlines because a veteran took the flag from the protesters. She then wrestled with officers to try to retain control of the flag.

To put this more bluntly, Michelle Manhart stole something and then forcibly resisted officers. She admitted to this behavior and there is a video of the incident. Fox news refused to even acknowledge that Manhart committed a crime, which is mildly entertaining considering the theft of something of nominal value and resisting a police officer was used by the outlet as justification for the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson. In this case though, the thief that resisted cops is being held up as a hero. So what aren’t you being told about the incident?

Michelle Manhart told Fox news:

“The flag is an iconic symbol for freedom. If you are going to fight for a cause and use the First Amendment – how are you going to stomp and trample the icon that gives you that right?”

No ma’am. The flag does not give anyone rights. The government does not give anyone rights. The US Constitution does not give anyone rights. Those rights are “self-evident” or people were “endowed by their creator” with them. They existed before the flag was sewn. The flag is a symbol. You cannot honor the symbol while destroying the very thing it is supposed to symbolize. You desecrated the idea of the flag, ma’am, when you decided your worship of a colored piece of cloth was more important than someone’s unalienable rights. Your attempt at stifling the US Constitution is far more insulting to the flag than students using it for shock value during a protest.

Let’s run through all of the objections that are sure to be flying in:

“The US Flag Code states…” The US Flag Code is guidance, not law. There are no criminal penalties contained anywhere in the flag code. The code was what Manhart cited after she stole the flag and tried to run away with it. Abiding by it is completely voluntary.(UPDATE: By the way, everything Manhart did here when she decided to pose nude with it dragging on the ground was also against the flag code.)

“Georgia law states…” Georgia’s law is unconstitutional and unenforceable except in the most narrow of instances. You don’t have to take my word for it, the Supreme Court ruled on all of these laws in Texas v Johnson (1989). If somebody desecrated the flag without making a political statement of any kind, they might be prosecutable under the statute. It should be noted that the Georgia law also specifically protects the Confederate flag as well. I can’t imagine why black students in Georgia might think there’s a problem worth drawing attention to.

“It’s offensive to do that to a flag…” The First Amendment was designed to protect offensive speech. Weather reports do not need First Amendment protections. Cooking recipes do not need First Amendment protections. The offensiveness of speech could accurately be used as a barometer for whether or not it is protected by the First Amendment. The more offensive something is, the more likely it’s protected speech. Being offended is the price of living in a freer society.

“My dad/cousin/aunt/granddad/barber/whomever died for that flag…” No, they probably didn’t. If they were a true patriot, they died for the ideas embodied by that flag. One of those ideas was trampled on when Mrs. Manhart took it upon herself to become a thief and disrupt a Constitutionally-protected activity while invoking the power of the government’s code. I can assure you that if one of the founding fathers thought that a bit of colored cloth was going to be used to curtail freedom they would have burned every single one of them and probably would have strung Betsy Ross up by the neck.

“If you disrespected the flag in another country, you’d be shot…” Probably not. Most countries don’t grant their flags special protections under the law. Those that do are typically Middle Eastern countries that have religious imagery on their flag. Countries we would consider ourselves on par with (The UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, etc) have no laws about the desecration of national flags.

Just another veteran that loved his flag more than his the principles of his country. Image Source: Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst - Zentralbild (Bild 183)

Just another veteran that loved his flag more than the principles of his country.
Image Source: Allgemeiner Deutscher Nachrichtendienst – Zentralbild (Bild 183)

“Mrs. Manhart is a veteran…” So were Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and John Allen Muhammed. Nidal Malik Hassan was active duty, so obviously his view must be even more correct, right? If you don’t recognize the names, they are the Oklahoma City bombers, the Beltway Sniper, and the Fort Hood shooter. The last time a society listened to a hyper-nationalistic brainwashed veteran with an uncontrollable fetish for flags, it didn’t end well.

“It’s disrespectful to do that to a flag…” Yes, it is. I completely agree. I still stand for the Star Spangled Banner, and while I don’t recite the pledge anymore, I still stand for it when others do out of courtesy. I’ve never burned a flag or walked on one. I also believe it unnecessary to use this kind of shock tactic to get your point across, but my opinion doesn’t matter. They had a Constitutionally-protected right to do what they were doing. Being disrespectful is not a crime. It is certainly more disrespectful to steal the property of another, isn’t it?

Go Team USA! Image Source: Robert F. W. Whitlock

Go Team USA!
Image Source: Robert F. W. Whitlock

“Why don’t you recite the Pledge anymore?” I’ll recite the Pledge again when people stop treating the flag like a mascot for a sports team and start believing in the ideals that it is supposed to embody. So you’ll hear me say it when Americans realize that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights. That’s “all men.” Nowhere is it written that beyond America’s borders live a lesser people. Nowhere is it written that enemies of the state can lose their rights. Nowhere is it written that you should waive your rights when you wave your flag. Until Americans realize that, the flag is just another pretty piece of cloth that is nothing more than landscaping and means as little as the shrubs surrounding the pole it’s flying on.

Here’s the video in case you missed it:

30 comments for “What you aren’t being told about the Valdosta flag incident

  1. ben
    April 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Thank you for this article.

  2. RED
    April 20, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Love America, Love the Flag, or get out!

  3. Blue
    April 20, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    so you’re comparing most of our veterans to Hitler … nice. So what if she “stole” the flag, she was standing up for herself and all other veterans. Most veterans would have done the same the others would find more clever ways to put this cowardly unnamed group to shame.

  4. Lori Campbell
    April 20, 2015 at 11:06 pm

    It’s a sad day.
    Where is the respect? Why do we have people walking over an American Flag? During those hours some could be raising their kids, supporting their family, or volunteering to those in need? I hope that their feet are now rested to do something more productive. This is really a sad day.

  5. 14/88
    April 21, 2015 at 12:34 am

    This is what our country has come to. When these niggers are allowed to walk on the American Flag. Fuck your excuses you commie liberals. If only white America would wake up. “We must secure the existence of our people, and a future for white children”. – David Lane

  6. Sarah Palin
    April 21, 2015 at 2:24 am

    14/88 – Congratulations, you just won the “Racist Cunt of the Year” award. I’m sure your sister is also your mother, inbred southern fuck.

  7. Wth
    April 21, 2015 at 2:50 am

    property?! It was on the ground being walked over. Half of those college students are on federal student loans. If they are so mad at America, leave. Don’t disrespect the country my husband DIED FOR. They left that “piece of cloth” on his coffin. You people need to learn some respect and gain some morals.

  8. john
    April 21, 2015 at 4:13 am

    Simply put for every action there will be a reaction, we are Americans and we all enjoy our freedoms. I must add with freedom does come great responsibility and ultimate sacrifice so remember that before you judge.

  9. Melissa Showalter
    April 21, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Sorry Red, you’re wrong. I’m an American and I have the same rights as you. I was born with them, they were not awarded to me If you don’t respect the free speech of others than you are unpatriotic and anti-American.

  10. D.T.
    April 21, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    If you live in, and enjoy all the freedoms of these United States of America, then respect and honor our flag. If you cannot do that then take your sorry white, black, yellow, or brown ass back to the land of your ancestors!

  11. April 21, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    No. I’m a vet and she is most assuredly not standing up for me. She is a poseur in more ways than one. Here she is:


    Quite the flag-respecting patriot, isn’t she.

  12. samantha
    April 22, 2015 at 1:00 am

    Yes they are vsu students no it wasn’t peaceful protest. Yes he did threaten to kill all white he and his group. Yes he did it again the next day and brought a gun. Now there is a warrant out for his arrest and he’s in hiding. All this is in the news by the way so maybe you should educate yourself more. No this was not about his rights as he tried to pass it off as at first this IS about getting rid of all whites. He calls himself a terrorist and makes terrorist threats to an entire race all tge while the group backs him up. Now their all being investigated. However this is to little to late. You just want to stick your head in tge sand and spout off what you think is going on when in reality you have no clue. Stay in your hoke and hide. We got this.

  13. Tanze
    April 22, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Thank you so much for showing me just how fucking stupid you really are. The flag is a symbol of the USA.And sense it is a symble of the USA when you walk on you are disrepecting not just the U.S. but also the people who have died fighting to keep our right. It is a symbol that embodies everything that the U.S. stands for. So why the fuck would you dumb fucks walk on it. If you don’t like this country then please do us all a favor and get the fuck out. If you disrespect the flag in Russia you a sentence to like in prison. True that’s not being shot, but you act like there is not consequences for these actions in other country’s. Please do your research next time before you make your self look like a self righteous ass whole.

  14. bob
    April 22, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Don’t be draggin’ Southerners into this. Racist people live up north too.

  15. Cee Cee
    April 24, 2015 at 1:05 am

    “You people”. You people couldn’t stand two full days in a Black man’s shoes. Take what he take everyday. Designed by you people. You people need to practice what you preach. You people need to get some respect and morals. You have lied and stolen from almost every country there is. That’s why you are hated all over the world, to this day. Those students don’t have to leave if they don’t like what the flag means to you. You should not have brought them over in the first place. Now, that we are here, we can try to change what we don’t like about (You People)

  16. Morepatrotic than you
    April 24, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    I am a veteran and i support the flag being walked on by there protester because i belive in free speech. Also no veteran has ever died for this piece of cloth

  17. Red
    April 26, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    then respect my freedom of speech and shut up.

  18. Blue
    April 26, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    If that is all you have then you have against her then you have nothing. In the end the point is RESPECT the flag and fight fire with fire.

  19. White
    April 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    It’s ok I forgive them and everyone that is defending them. There are better ways to get their revolutionizing thoughts or ideals out. They are also hippocrates if you called them the n word they would rise hell, but then they turn around and start to disrespect other people by walking on the flag and laugh about it … shameful. This reminds me of the Roman soldiers that nailed Christ to the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The protesters and those defending them are fools to disgrace the symbol and banner that grants them that very freedom to speak freely. They will never know the amount of sacrifice that went into those starts and stripes. As I said I forgive you for the posters and those who defend them are cowards and fools who will never respect you are defend you but must be protected.

  20. White
    April 26, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    They will never know the amount of sacrifice that wen into those stars* and stripes.

    respect you or* defend you but must be protected.

  21. Richard Davies
    April 26, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    clearly you aren’t a vet

  22. ree ree
    April 26, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    look who is talking…

  23. RED
    April 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    yup respect the flag or shut up

  24. ben
    May 2, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    The rights of any human are a birthright and completely independent of the flag that flies over their head. There is no “symbol and banner that grants them that very freedom to speak freely”, as though a change in the flag would mean that you would be any less human or entitled to the basic rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Hapiness.

    Also, the freedom of speech doesn’t guarantee that anyone else will agree or even like what you have to say. It’s the principle that you have the right to say pretty much anything without interference, especially if it’s offensive or tasteless. Someone has every right to be angry if you choose to refer to them or other human beings using derogatory, inhuman terms that have generations of degrading, murderous meaning behind them, just as you are allowed and protected to feel offended and hurt by some using disrespectful and derogatory terms or actions towards a particular piece of cloth or a book or an idea.

  25. ace
    May 6, 2015 at 12:34 am

    U r right,I’m glad u spoke up, being a black man, I see your woman comin to the dark side hahaha right pretty soon I will be extinct and hopefully the WORLD will be better

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