It is more patriotic to fly a giant American Flag than one of conventional size?
The town council of Boone, N.C, didn’t think so when it prescribed maximum sizes for city, county, state and national flags as part of its signs ordinance adopted in April, 1980.
But in the face of a developing public furor, the council has now authorized Hill Greene, a service station operator, to continue flying his 20-by-30foot U.S. Flag, saying it will amend the ordinance.
Earlier, the city zoning officials had given Greene 10 days to remove the big emblem or face a misdemeanor penalty.
Conley Winebarger. Boone building inspector and zoning enforcement officer, said the council’s intention in the provision on flag sizes apparently was to prevent use of over-sized banners to attract attention to a business.
“Certainly there was no intent to discourage flags and patriotism,” Winebarger said. “And our recent action was just a simple case of a citation for violation of an ordinance.”
Greene had a right to appeal, but he chose the “politically-powerful” route of going to the public through the news media instead of conventional appeal procedures. “The people of Boone were 100 percent behind me,” he claimed.
Discretion being the “better part of valour,” as Shakespeare suggested, the Boone Town Council decided to change the signs ordinance to permit flags of any size to be flown anywhere in town.
As the council discovered, it’s hazardous to fix limits where patriotism and flag-waving are concemed, even though the issue may be linked to bucks and business.
Beyond that, some legal authorities question the appropriateness of interpreting a flag as a sign. And though the courts permit states to regulate conduct of citizens toward the flag, when that conduct is likely to produce breaches of peace, the federal flag code should have precedence.
An added point: Big flags are a sign of the times, Many business and civic institutions are going for the king-size banners – and people love them. There’s no doubt about it, the increased visibility accentuates the patriotic experience.