This morning I noticed that a friend of mine of Facebook (a real friend, BTW, not just a “Facebook friend”) had joined a Facebook group called “WE SUPPORT COL VAN T. BARFOOT'S (RET) EFFORT TO FLY THE U.S. FLAG.” This piqued my interest because who’s preventing people from displaying the flag? Also, I’m a natural cynic, so I assumed there was more to the story.
So I clicked to see what the hubbub was. Here’s the official group description:
90-year-old Retired Army Colonel and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Van T. Barfoot has been ordered by his homeowner's association to stop displaying his U.S. flag on his own flagpole in front of his own home. The homeowner's association disapproves of the 21 foot flagpole (not the flag) and has now hired a law firm and legal proceedings against him appear to be pending.
It continues, but that’s the gist of it. As of this moment, there are 62,884 members of this group. That’s more than 60 thousand people who read this description and said, “Hell no! No Big Brother government organization is going to keep a veteran from proudly flying the stars and strips on my watch!”
But, out of those 62,884 people, I wonder how many really read the news stories the page linked to or, really, took note of this one line: The homeowner's association disapproves of the 21 foot flagpole (not the flag).
Clearly, no-one is telling this war hero that he can’t display the flag, they’re just saying that a 21-foot flagpole is too damn high. That’s a flagpole TWO STORIES high. Maybe these homeowner’s regulations stem from safety concerns. I mean, if 21-foot of metal pipe fell on your head while you were out walking the dog, wouldn’t you be upset?
Also, that’s the job of homeowner organizations, to make rules and regulations that all homeowners agree to live by. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Col. Barfoot didn’t review these regulations before erecting his flagpole.
And maybe he did a half-ass job of it. Just because he’s a hero doesn’t mean he can pour cement. Maybe the thing threatened to crash into his neighbor’s house in every moderate wind?
Or, maybe it’s the butchest flagpole you’ve ever seen and the homeowners’ organization is a bunch of tight-assed jerks. Actually, as I read more about the homeowners’ association, it sounds like that’s exactly what they are.
But the point of my rant, though, is that tens of thousands of people signed up for this group; most without bothering to look deeper into the issue. And this grassroots movement was successful! After Fox News (ugh) got hold of it and the story went national, and after many calls and letters from the nation, the homeowners’ association backed off.
I do have to wonder though, if this was a story about someone wanting to display the Confederate Flag if it would have gotten so much traction in the news? What if it was a legal immigrant wanting to display the flag of their home country? Would the Governor of the state weighed in on the issue then?
I’m pretty sure Fox News wouldn’t pick up that story.