Flagging Enthusiasm

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On Monday night, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) proudly reports (in a press release that does not seem to be available online), the U.S. Senate unanimously approved his bill negating condominimum and homeowner association rules that prohibit members from flying American flags in front of their homes. President Bush is expected to sign it soon, thereby completing one item on the Republicans' "American Values" agenda. This is nothing short of scandalous. The House passed the bill on June 28, but because the Senate could not get its act together in time we still had to endure yet another Fourth of July on which stoops and porches across the land were tragically bereft of banners.

NEXT: Victimless Fraud

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  1. I suppose it’s too much to hope that the Supreme Court would stand up for property rights and freedom of association?

    Stop laughing. I mean it, stop right now!

  2. Those damned flags are sooooo tacky! And grass longer than 3/4 an inch? Paaa-leeaase!

    But seriously, if it’s my home associate then I can cry if I want to…

  3. They wouldn’t have to stand up for property rights and freedom of association. Just stand up for principles of federalism and limited government… *crickets*

  4. I’m surprised they didn’t make flag flying mandatory.

  5. Stem cells for none… miniature American flags for all!

  6. This is a blatant content based First Amendment violation. Flags are speech. The government can’t tell me what kind of flag to fly.

  7. Too funny. This is another overreach by the Federal Governent. At least this time, I don’t care all that much since I hate homeowner’s associations. (To me, they seem like miniature versions of The State.)

  8. Won’t there be a backlash to this? I’m thinking some member of a homeowners’ association decides to fly their flag, and then have to put with with people measuring their grass daily, making sure the paint hasn’t faded, busting them for their kid leaving the bike out on the lawn, etc. I predict a harassment lawsuit when some homeowners’ association does this by the end of summer.

  9. The secret to defeating HOAs is to challenge the consistency of their enforcement. In fact, HOA could stand for Homeowner Arbitrariness.

  10. Nah, the secret to defeating HOAs is to wait 90 days while the new homeowner cum board member succombs to the laze that typifies volunteer boards (and government bureaucracies) everywhere.

  11. “I’m surprised they didn’t make flag flying mandatory.”

    Give it a few years.

  12. The Real Bill,

    In a more libertarian society that is exactly what one would get – lots of private law-like run groups of people.

  13. PL,

    That sounds horrible! I suppose that no type of society is ideal.

    My ideal society has me as its dictator. I’d do very little dictating, though. Mostly, I’d say “Leave them alone!” a lot.

  14. Other things I’d say a lot as dictator:

    Leave me alone.
    Deal with it.
    Who do you think I am, your mommy?
    Bring me a bucket!

  15. Are there actually homeowners’ associations that ban the flying of American flags? I find that pretty hard to believe. Wouldn’t the conservative nuts be picketing?

  16. Brian24-

    It only takes a single anecdote to create a cause that politicians can rally around when they need something to distract voters.

  17. “The secret to defeating HOAs is to challenge the consistency of their enforcement. In fact, HOA could stand for Homeowner Arbitrariness.”

    Spoken like someone who has had the unfortuneate experience of dealing with one of these organizations. The problem is that people are basically animals. On the one hand, if you don’t have a HMA, you end up with one nitwit that does crazy stuff that hurts everyone else’s property values. If you do have one, it is taken over by gadflies who want to control everyone’s lives. Honestly, why the hell would anyone care about your neighbor flying a flag?

  18. God sent libertarians HOAs to screw with our minds. We’re all fine saying that government is oppressive and sucks, but then we get to try to think our way around the reasons why a privately agreed upon organization is oppressive and sucks as well.

    Honestly, maybe the HOA governance model is the problem. Perhaps the charter should be harder to amend and should only deal with things like having wild animals on your property or building a 1:1 scale model of the Colossus of Rhodes in your front yard. That sort of thing.

  19. Hey if you give the HOAs power to regulate, what do you expect them to do? In a way they are mini-governments. Government love passing laws it gives them something to do.

    In a way it boils down to social contract theory ethics. If you don’t like it, move.

    I think most of us here would love it if Congress met one year and didn’t pass a single law. Most the country would call them lazy and lame duck.

  20. Hey if you give the HOAs power to regulate, what do you expect them to do? In a way they are mini-governments. Government love passing laws it gives them something to do.

    In a way it boils down to social contract theory ethics. If you don’t like it, move.

    I think most of us here would love it if Congress met one year and didn’t pass a single law. Most the country would call them lazy and lame duck.

  21. I agree with Pro Liberate that HOA are the black-sheep to libber thinking. On one hand, they are voluntary organizations. OTOH, they can easily become tyrannies since they’re so small.

    The whole question, it seems to me, is where one comes down on whether or not you can voluntarily give up ‘unalienable rights,’ or, at least rights guaranteed by the Constitution. You can join a HOA by buying into the community, but can the community then ban your 1st Amendment right to the free exercise of political speech or the 2nd Amendment right to own firearms?

  22. Sure you can voluntarily give up any right by signing on the dotted line below the paragraph that states I hearby agree to live under said rules.

    If you chose to give something up, you have no arguement when it’s gone.

  23. That’s really an interesting question, TrickyVic. Are there unalienable/inalienable rights? If so, think about what that means. Certain rights are deemed to be “incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another”. If we accept that premise, then the freedom of contract does not trump those rights. I’m not saying that agreeing not to plant a 1,000 foot flag pole with a one-acre U.S. flag on top of it is the waiving of an “unalienable right”, I’m just saying that we have a tradition of not allowing some rights to be signed away willy nilly.

    A number of contracts have been viewed as being against public policy because one or both parties were giving up rights we’d prefer that they didn’t give away. To give an extreme example, I can’t sign a note for a loan agreeing to work off the debt in a slave camp for ten years in the event I default. HOA agreements don’t at all rise to that level, and are probably 80% reasonable in the first place. But it’s totally consistent with our liberal tradition to refuse to enforce some provisions of an agreement, however willing the parties were to sign that agreement. It just goes to show that American jurisprudence didn’t necessarily start from completely libertarian-anarchist-utopian principles 🙂

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