Flame-Proofing Flags

By Karen Tackett
Rightgrrl Contributor
July 23, 1999

One of those delightful moments for a RightGrrl is to observe when left-leaning causes collide. In my home state of Washington we have seen an example of this in the environmental sphere when cute, fuzzy sea lions grow up to menace endangered salmon runs in a species-to-species face off, causing great angst, anxiety, and confusion. "We can't shoot them for they are fuzzy and cute and innocent animals... but they are gorging on majestic salmon trying to make their way up our rivers... but, but... (brain short out)."

I recently thought of a way to get a demolition derby of debate going between Ralph-Nadar-Alar-Scare-Soccer-Moms VS Down-With-America-Face-Painting-Slogan-Shouting-Flag-Burners.

Currently, there's a move afoot to legislatively make flag-burning taboo. Of course members of the taboo-breaking left are all in a tizzy. Just in case they WANT to burn a flag, they don't want flak about it. Sometimes this appears counter-productive to me. One of their members can easily become a media-martyr by being dragged off by police in a slogan-screaming rage. With the visual of the stars and stripes smoking on the sidewalk, it makes for great publicity for anarchists and activist wannabes everywhere.

For the sake of our honored dead, including members of my family who gave their lives for our own peace and freedom, I hope some kind of dignity can be restored to that sacred symbol of sacrifice and hope. I wonder sometimes that trying to restore a symbol without the necessary step of restoring the honor behind it may be a futile attempt. Frankly, I hope the effort to protect the dignity of our flag works.

If the move to protect our flag is legislatively... or more likely judicially scuttled, I might suggest an alternative approach. We should treat flags the same as children's pajamas. Wazzat? Ok, if you read the little tags on kiddy PJ's, you'll find there is some kind of governmental agency who mandates that pajamas to be worn by kids must be flame-retardant.

Probably this law is the result of some tragic circumstances, brought bravely to the attention of our elected officials by tearful victims. In a past "Crisis Du Jour", our officials set up an agency to monitor PJ production for the sake of public safety. Fine. As a mother I feel better knowing that my kids are safe from flaming PJ's... not that it really crossed my mind as a danger till I read the little tag...

Anyway, by approaching the flag-burning issues as a SAFETY issue... perhaps citing incidental evidence of tearful victims for effect, someone might be able to make a case for making flags flame-retardant. That chemical spray stuff or fibers or whatever it is that makes fabric flame-proof could be applied to flags during production. This would be easy! The same government PJ Inspectors could be used... even the same little tags! There's no need for great constitutional debate needed... we've seen that it's Constitution Shmon-stitution where Public Safety is concerned...

Imagine a scene with a protester in the future with our fire-retardant and SAFER flags:

Protester: "Death to America!"
(flick, flick...as he tries to ignite
the thing with a lighter but fails)

Protester: "Down with American Imperialism!"
(flick, flick)

You get the idea.

This article copyright © 1999 by Karen Tackett and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.