November 20, 1974, What a different world!

[deleted account] ( 8 moms have responded )

That date was the airing of one of my favorite episodes of Barney Miller. For those younger than myself (I was born 1972), this was a sitcom invovling NYC policemen at a specific precinct. This episode has stuck in my head from the reruns and truly exposes how both words and symbols have changed in the last 30 years and I mean REALLY changed. What was it? The attitude towards the US flag.

You see, in this episode and its' called "Horse Thief" for those wanting to look it up on YouTube, clearly indicates how politicians altered the meaning of the flag to something it was, in my opinion, never meant to be.

Ok, getting to the meat here. One young detective is a former marine. The show is portraying the US Bicentennial. He arrests a man who is selling all sorts of items with the US flag on it, i.e. beach towels, penands, lapel pins, t-shirts and he himself has the flag embroidered on his backside. The detective is completely offended by this man's blatent disregard for the flag code. I know the flag code from being a Rainbow Girl (long story).

The flag of the US (have no clue about other nations, sorry) is never meant to be worn as clothing, jewelry (including lapel pins), sewn onto hats. It is not to be used as a decoration for selling any product. It specifically states that you should use red/white/blue bunting instead.

But now - 38 years later, EVERYONE uses the flag to sell their product. I remember after 9/11 any newscaster NOT wearing a lapel pin was castigated/brutalized by the party in power. Suddenly EVERYONE'S wearing it. I wont'. I know better. I think what they've done is water the flags meaning down to nothing. Oh yeah, you'll get hell on earth if you're running for office and do not have a flag on your person somewhere.

Just interests me on how much a single attitude has altered our society. Now all the sudden we get legislation on how you cannot burn it or desecrate it. The word desecrate is particularly bad as it makes the flag something sacred which is not in the flag code. In fact, burning the flag is the preferred way of disposing a flag that is not fit for flying (you know,shredded by the wind.)

Sometimes I get really scared by how both words and symbols have changed. I guess one takes the rough with the smooth as attitudes towards homosexual's and women's rights. Also very interesting when watching other shows like the Barney Miller episode of the battered wife who was encouraged to just let it go rather than sign the complaint. She did sign but it was treated as a joke for which I am deeply satisfied that that is no longer the prevailing attitude.

But I'll end this before I go on another tangent. Just food for thought folks.


Lacye - posted on 12/11/2012




I understand what you are saying Jen. I just don't see it the same way. I don't see anything that has the American flag on it as insignificant. It's to show pride.

I do agree that it should not be used as a ploy to sell things. That is not what it is for nor what it is about. In all honesty, I hate the 4th of July for this exact reason. Yes it the day to celebrate our forefathers signing the Constitution, but it has now become propaganda for industries to make more money.

Sylvia - posted on 12/10/2012




Really? (I used to watch Barney Miller, but I don't think I ever saw that episode.)

Not in Canada. Freakin' maple-leaf flags all over every freakin' thing up here for as long as I can remember -- and I was born in 1974 :)


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[deleted account]

Just adding this. The reason the flag isn't meant to be used for selling things from donuts to presidents is that the flag was considered too important to be thrown around willy-nilly.

[deleted account]

But Lacye, I think the continued pressue to make the flag both sacred and something as meaningless as a pin has changed the way we view it.

HOnestly, i have no problem with flag burning if it ispart of a political protest. In fact, I think it's the strongest way to express one's issue with government. I would far rather the ability to burn my own flag in protest than see it plastered across a car at a used care dealership.

Lacye - posted on 12/10/2012




I don't really see it as a sign of disrespect. I find that when most people wear the flag appropriately, it is a sign of pride for our country and to be patriotic. Yeah, you could say "difference of the times" but in all honesty, Why should we be proud of something that is the symbol of our country. No we don't have a perfect country, but it is still our home and we should be proud of it.

BTW: I was born in 1984 :D

~♥Little Miss - posted on 12/10/2012




Huh. Interesting. I never knew that about the flag. From the time i was brought up, everyone seemed to wear the flag or have the flag on some sort of clothing item. I always knew you were suppose to burn a flag that touched the ground, or yes tattered by the wind. But in protest of what America means, burning the flag was a big no no.

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