Gadsden Flag: Too Racist for Government Buildings, But Just Right for Obamacare Propaganda!


Terrorist racists, probably. |||

Q: What is the Gadsden "Don't Tread on Me" flag?

A. (1775): A banner designed by Continental Col. Christopher Gadsden, using colonial rattlesnake imagery popularized by Benjamin Franklin, that accompanied the first-ever mission of the nascent U.S. Navy.

A. (1991): A song and album cover from Metallica.

A. (2004): A common sight at anti-Iraq War protests.

A. (2009): According to law enforcement officials, "the most common symbol displayed by militia members and organizations," possibly indicative of "terrorist or criminal operations."

A. (2009): According to anti-Tea Party commentators, a historical indicator of white resentment against blacks.

Confederate dunces. |||

A. (2013): According to the mayor and the city council of New Rochelle, New York, a symbol so "offensive," so drenched with "right-wing connotations," that it must immediately be taken down from the New Rochelle Armory.

A. (February 2014): According to David Tinney, vice president of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, the equivalent of the Confederate flag, and therefore reason to (successfully) agitate to remove it from a New Haven fire department's flagpole.

A. (March 2014): According to Democratic strategist and daughter-of-the-House-minority-leader Christine Pelosi, a symbol to be re-appropriated in the service of defending the heavy-treading Affordable Care Act:

Don't tread on the right of the federal government to suck up billions of dollars and spit them back out inefficiently while limiting your consumer choices and forcing you to pay for stuff you don't want to, bro! |||

As ever, the richest symbolism is often in the eye of the beholder.

NEXT: Jacob Sullum on Uncle Sam's Drinking Game

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Is it worth noting that it looks like a spirochete?

    1. Is that the thing they use to perform colonoscopies?

  2. They’re just taking it back from the racists (comprised of everyone who dislikes Obamacare, since that’s the only reason they’d dislike it).

    1. “Don’t tread on my right to free cheese”

      1. “Don’t tread on my right to tread on others.”

        1. “you have to use force to stop me from using force, hypocrite! Checkmate libertarians!”


          1. Speaking of which, I believe I found some more of his handiwork http://www.viralnova.com/hilar…..discipline

            #20, the similarities in reasoning and diction is striking.

  3. “Democratic strategist”

    AKA “Job for idiot child of politician”

    1. Its a way to put her on the payroll until she inherits her mother’s seat.

  4. “As ever, the richest symbolism is often in the eye of the beholder.”

    I don’t think they’re trying to appropriate the Gadsden flag in support of ObamaCare.

    I think the main purpose of that image is to antagonize people, with whom the image of the Gadsden Flag resonates.

    They’re not venerating the flag and using it as an image to support ObamaCare.

    They’re mocking the Gadsden Flag.

    They’re smearing shit on the Gadsden Flag, and they’re inviting you to laugh at it with them.

    1. The responses are not especially supportive. I think a lot of people are laughing at them.

    2. You give them too much credit

      1. All those hipster art student types sitting around doing nothing all day but trying to think up new ways to express how much they hate the Tea Party?

        That’s not giving them any credit.

        That’s who they are.

        This is from the same people who brought you the Obama “Hope” poster.


      2. Hating someone leads to lots of creativity.

    3. Yeah, at the very least it’s probably the type of irony a lot of the obamacare internet promotion has mined.



    1. I was wondering, just out of curiosity, does your mom tie your shoes for you or does she buy you shoes with Velcro straps?

      1. I’m going with Velcro, and shoes that have blinking lights when it walks.

      2. Shouldn’t someone who calls himself “sarcasmic” understand irony?

        The Tea Party is all about government healthcare – as long as it is for them. And here progressives have put all their chips on a private insurer model.

        Why does that need to be explained?

        1. “Shouldn’t someone who calls himself “sarcasmic” understand irony?”

          You didn’t understand the irony until I explained it to you, you buffoon.

          You took it the way it was written. There wasn’t anything ironic about your post.


        2. Socks and sandals I bet! Or do you wear footies?

        3. 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

          1. I think the next iteration of reasonable should include an option to replace Buttplug’s posts instead of blanking them. While it should be customizable, a nice default would be:

            “Blah blah blah racism blah BOOSH!”

            1. That would be nice.

              Also, we need a way to sanction those who still…beyond all reason…insist on responding to it. whyyyyy

              1. To annoy people like yoooouuuu.

              2. The only thing worse than those responding to the trolls are those who insist on blathering about those responding to the trolls.

                But those who blather about those blathering about not responding to the trolls are okay.

                If you don’t like people responding to trolls, filter them.

                Take your sanctions and shove them up your ass sideways.

                1. Hey Randian! I can barely see you! You’re so high up there on that horse!

        4. Look Putins Buttplug…….!

          Oh no…there’s no follow on comment I just dig using your new handle!

          Carry on.

        5. “The Tea Party is all about government healthcare”

          So they’re all for Obamacare?

          The Tea Party will vote for someone who wants to tweak medicare over your typical Democrat in a heartbeat.

      3. IT’S NOT SENTIENT!!!!!!

        Seriously sarcasmic, you might as well have written “I love you Palin’s Buttplug; you are the smartest commenter here and when you are in town I would be honored if you allowed my wife to give you a rim job” for all it understands.

        Questioning it is pointless. It’s the Eliza of commenters. You stimulate it and it responds with absolutely no understanding of the concepts contained in the streams of text.

        1. My comment was not for PB’s benefit.

          1. It’s not to anyone’s benefit.

            1. Other people took it as an opportunity to make more jokes at PB’s expense, so stick it.

              1. but what if they are actually interested in having a discussion regarding the article?

                Or anything butt PB?

        2. I have noticed many times where it seems PB fails the Turing test. Glad I’m not the only one.

        3. I keep listening to tarran on this, but…

          I guess it’s that I think of Tony as not being sentient. And if PB isn’t sentient, then what does that make Tony? Is there a Category for what that would make Tony?

          I guess Tony and PB are basically the same thing. It’s just projection on my party, I’m sure.

          1. Tony is sentient.

            I suspect he’s a troll ie. the person(s) who runs the account doesn’t really agree with the comments being made, but does it to annoy.

            It’s possible that the person commenting as Tony is sincerely expressing his/her true beliefs. If so, Tony would be a very stupid, racist and superstitious person who pines to recreate feudalism, believing that he will be one of the idle nobles ruling enlightedly over the stupid serfs who need kind, loving ruling, with firm and harsh punishments being visited upon them solely for the greater good and out of love.

            1. I can’t talk politics or economics with my father because he thinks exactly like Tony. The guy is otherwise very intelligent, but on those subjects he’s an emotional buffoon.

            2. Tony is multiple people. And the quality of the work product has really gone downhill in the last month.

              1. Nope, he’s only one guy, and a rather well-known JournoList at that.

                1. *Mike M. adjusts aluminum foil hat*

              2. His arguments are too consistent to be multiple people.

                1. New here. Help me out. Is Tony and PB the same troll?

                  1. No. Different.

            3. Tarran –

              I see your conundrum here, but think I have a theory that may help. It goes something like…..

              PB is comment-bot specifically built to blame Bush on everything and ensure liberal talking points are front and center.

              In addition to that, to make the comment-bot appear “human”, they included in the code the ability for it to speak on other, seemingly non-political, topics. This is done through a DB repository comprising rules/words/phrasings/etc and connections to the internet to grab information from wiki, MLB, MarketWatch, etc, etc, etc.

              Therefore, on rare occasions, it puts words together in such a way, that it makes an intelligent point… but only by accident.

              Then with Tony, he’s an actual (non-sentient) human, but without access to a comment-bot.

              Additionally, as he’s shown on thousands of separate occasions, he doesn’t have enough intellectual capacity on his own to even mimic intelligent random-comment generators.

              Therefore, Tony’s comments are limited to his actual capabilities and thus never even accidentally appears intelligent.

              Summarized Hypothesis: neither are sentient, though PB, through a poorly developed comment-bot, can create the illusion of being able to pass a Turing Test.

              1. Does he pass the Voight-Kampff?

                1. “The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not signing up to any Obamacare. Why is that?”

                  “Do you want to know whether I am a replicant or an unliberal, Mr. Deckard?”

        4. Eliza? WOW they have updated it to javascript? I remember getting the code from a magazine, and typing it in and saving it to a floppy. An old fashion paper case floppy. It was written in basic, you know:
          10 print “Hello, I am Eliza, what is your name?”
          20 input = a
          30 print “Hello” a “, how are you today?”

          or something like that. It has been like three decades since I wrote Basic code. I remember there was a database, too.

          1. Today we have AliceBot

      4. Definitely velcro. He might accidentally hang himself with the shoe laces otherwise.

    2. Palin’s Buttplug|3.21.14 @ 10:35AM|#

      Shipile commenter: “I LICK OBAMA’S ASS!”

    3. 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

    4. If obamacare is so “private”, PB, why is it if I can’t choose *not* to buy it I still have to pay someone?

      1. You can tell its private because you can only buy it on a government website.

    5. It’s private, except for the part where the government gets to make all the coverage decisions.

      Any color you like as long as it’s black!


      Oh, and hands off my Medicaid expansion too!

  6. If they’ve appropriated the flag, it’s for the equivalent of a flag burning.

    The image is meant to antagonize those who reverence the flag.

  7. That just makes me want to drop what I’m doing and go sign up for Obamacare…


    1. Makes me want to start shopping for a new .45…

  8. A flag so evil that the United States Navy fly’s a variation of it on its ships in port.


    1. I think they should replace the red and white strips with rainbow colors.

      1. And replace the snake with a unicorn, that way it will be inclusive and also act as a safety warning to not step on unicorns

        1. Can Obama ride the unicorn?

      2. Wouldn’t that just be gay??

        OHHHH…..never mind.

    2. It’s part of our heritage. A good part, as opposed to some of the crap we’re adding to it these days.

      1. Where does one get a heritage exactly? In case I ever wish to acquire one. And more importantly, I guess, can one get a cheaper mass market heritage at Target?

        1. One steals it from other, more privileged people.

        2. I have a 2004 HD Heritage. I believe they still make them.

          Nice ride for a small dude like me.

    3. Well then the Navy must be racist, obviously.

    4. It’s on the patch they wear over here in Trashcanistan too.

  9. Don’t tread on your Obamacare or what, Christine? Are you prepared to back that threat by force of arms?

    1. Yes, but the force will be delayed until after the elections this fall.

  10. “A. (2013): According to the mayor and the city council of New Rochelle, New York, a symbol so “offensive,” so drenched with “right-wing connotations,” that it must immediately be taken down from the New Rochelle Armory.

    If you prize your sanity, do not read any of the linked articles, or – peril your very soul itself – any of the comments associated with them.

    There be stupid.

  11. I’m concerned that the mug I’m drinking my coffee out of, which is transparent with a sunflower on it, is a symbol of white privilege rape culture. I feel so guilty that I think I’m going to have to go drink beer and watch college basketball. First a shower to wash all the hate off me.

    1. My Little Pony coffee and sippy cups. It is the only way to go.

      1. I’ll ask if the bar has MLP beer mugs.

    2. Please make sure you bring a complete log of your alcohol consumption to your next physician’s appointment.

      1. I would have to hire a personal assistant if I had to log every beer I drank:)

        1. JOBS!

      2. where the hell did that apostrophe come from???

        1. The NSA LOOMS….


  13. it’s another distraction because those are all that this administration has. That’s why there has been a slew of articles on the impending collapse of the tea party, assorted liberal please for Ruth Ginsburg’s retirement, and anything else that will take focus away from the particulars of O-care.

    1. please = pleas

      1. I liked the first way. “Please” retire AND “pleased” if she retires.

        1. no, that’s the point: then Obama gets to appoint a younger version who will be on the bench for decades yet to come. I bet she will retire his last year.

  14. I’m treading all over your Obamacare. Come And Take It.



  16. The State of Texas sells (well licenses) Gadsden flag license plates. Does that make the Texas DMV a terrorist organization?

    1. So does Virginia

      1. The Gadsden flag license plates were better when Virginia was issuing them.

        1. I saw one last week on a Prius, with an Obama 2012 sticker on it. Almost did a spit take.

          1. Maybe they think it’s a fashion statement?

          2. Fucking hipsters…

    2. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy then any state department of motor vehicles.

    3. Fuck! How did I not know that when I lived in Texas.

      [Runs off to Arizona license plate site].

      1. It’s probably recent. Texas has decided to push vanity plates to raise money for TxDot – so they’re doing weird things like designing products that people want to buy in order to get them to voluntarily send money to them.

        Of course, they’re still stealing money too, so there’s that, but I guess thievery doesn’t pay the bills.

    4. Same goes in Virginia. Lots of vehicles with little symbols of hate tooling around, driving Libs and flakes batshit crazy.

    5. The liberals know the whole state of Texas is right-wing terrorists. Duh, it’s Texas.

  17. “As ever, the richest symbolism is often in the eye of the beholder”

    [and now a word from our resident Slam Poet Editorialist]

    “Ah, but as Mr Welch, or should I say *Welsh*, or should I say English, or should I say, named after our oppressive colonial overlords, might say: Indeed! Symbolism is ALWAYS in the “eye”, or should I say “we”, of those that be *holding* the power? Or should I say, ERIC-“Holder”, being the EYE of the law! Because the symbolisms of the RICH, or should I say, the TEA PARTY, are indeed up in the eyes of E.Holder! And he aint finding this yellow to be so mellow, if you know what I’m saying, and Holder’s gonna have to tell that tea party to Flush it Down for Freedom… “

          1. HERC!!!!

            *hugs HERC*

          2. The Cat Empire is a great band!

  18. “the most common symbol displayed by militia members and organizations,” possibly indicative of “terrorist or criminal operations.”

    They’re that scared of a snake. Why? Is it because it bites? I’m surprised they haven’t banned snakes yet.

    They’re might be snakes on the plane, or snakes surrounding Mary Jane. One might look like Kurt Cobaine, others may try and force you to do cocaine. Another might trick you into thinking its a cane, and another might bite you in the junk causing extreme pain. Hell, we won’t even need Christie, because they will shurley block up the bridge lane.

    1. Some might trick your younger brother Cain, into pounding you like he’s Kane, until your body’s on the ground slain, and that’s what cue’s the refrain, of the Beta Band’s “Dry the Rain”, and the narrator will mansplain, a philosophy from Ron Howard’s brain. And the City State will stain, until the White Indian’s reign.

      1. I think your monocle is iconical, and this government quite comical as they trick folks with bullshit that defies everything economical, as they hate on our rhymes that are so astronomical. Our rap is so harmonical, all the ladies melt and call it mythological, and it’s almost like we have ESP and our words are so effing biological.


    2. Last Monday was Saint Patrick’s Day, have you forgotten already? Ol’ Paddy did what? He chased the snakes out of Ireland. Therefore the snake flag is anti-Irish. Or maybe anti-Catholic. Either way, KKK!!!

  19. I know the Iron Law of Bureaucracies says that to predict the behavior of a large bureaucracy, imagine it is being run by a cabal of its enemies, but this is too much. BuSab appears to be on the case.

    1. If only. Georgie X McKay would just be what’s needed.

  20. According to anti-Tea Party commentators, a historical indicator of white resentment against blacks.

    Yet more evidence that there is no such thing as peak retard.

  21. Christians graffiti-ed fish symbols all over Rome. The snake on the Gadsden flag is easy to draw.

    1. If you called it “tagging” it would then be racist of anyone to criticize you for it, too.

      Good call…

    2. I thought the fish was a secret symbol to advertise to other Christians that the place sporting the fish was owned by a member of their banned church.

  22. Well, now I’m just gonna have to redesign the Confederate flag to support an increase in minimum wage.

    1. Nice. Let’s promote 4:20 as now time to take your free, Obama provided medicine.

  23. From the New Rochelle story:

    A veterans organization in a New York town is fighting for its right to fly a patriotic flag after the city council refused to let the group display the flag, calling it a symbol of the Tea Party with right-wing connotations.

    Uh. Right-wing symbols are not allowed?

    1. Well that is southern Westchester and they may as well be flying a twisted flag that bears every hard-left socialist symbol ever devised.

      1. No, the bear flag is for California, lib central…

  24. Can I whine like a bitch at work to get all the Obama calendars, artwork and commemorative plates taken down? They make me feel all offended and sad.

    1. Depends on how much you want to continue to work there.

  25. From the fire department story:

    “He eventually took it down. What bothers me is he took it down under protest. He felt he did nothing wrong, even after individuals told him it was disrespectful,” Neal said. “I’m not going to say he should be disciplined.

    I want to see him being reeducated.

    These people exhibit a strange mixture of utter hatred for their enemies and a belief that their enemies would abandon their evil ways if only they were taught the right way. It’s frighteningly religious.

    Also, there are comments.

    posted by: Career High School Parent on February 26, 2014 7:46am

    My feeling is this, if SOME are offended, then remove it. It is slowly growing legs as a hate symbol. I feel this is a slippery slope. I’m sure those of you who are well versed in religion/world history know about the long history of the swastika? Remember which party then adopted the symbol in the 1920’s??!!

    1. Shit, I meant to bold the bit in the first quote, not double-quote it.

      “He eventually took it down. What bothers me is he took it down under protest. He felt he did nothing wrong, even after individuals told him it was disrespectful,” Neal said. “I’m not going to say he should be disciplined. I want to see him being reeducated.”

      Am I the only one for whom preview is completely broken?

      1. OK, so we now have governmental employees calling for the reeducation of citizens?

        How much longer will it be before someone decides to strike back?

        1. No one will. The pussification of the nation is pretty complete.

      2. Was there ever a society where “re-education” didn’t include being sent to a work camp, starved, beaten, and abused? How do people get away with saying they want somebody sent to a political detention camp and keep their job?

        1. cue: Cool Hand Luke getting his “mind right”.

  26. I think we should look at the actual meaning of the sentence. It is “Don’t Tread on Me.” This isn’t a symbol of the left’right paradigm, but of true Liberty.

    It is basically telling others to leave us alone. It is quite libertarian, and a good summation of libertarian beliefs. We don’t want you regulating, taxing, banning, etc. our behavior.

    Oh, and the snake shows how dangerous it is to mess with us. If you mess with the snake, the snake bites you; it’s just not worth it.

  27. As ever, the richest symbolism is often in the eye of the beholder.

    Eye of the Beholder guitar riff is my fave.

  28. if SOME are offended, then remove it.

    A nation of victims.

    1. And who doesn’t want to be a victim? They get anything they want.

  29. The best snake flag had seven cobra heads on it with a gun-totin’ rich kid standing in front of it.

    1. I will assume the kid was white.

      1. Assume away, but only if you’re too young to remember that the kid was white.

        1. Why do you promote school shootings?

  30. Meh, time for a new flag anyway. It’s pretty obvious at this point that the snake was too subtle and the message to loosely interpreted.

    I’m thinking a tiger’s head with a pentagram branded on the forehead and bloody fangs superimposed on the stars and bars with the phrase ‘More taxes make me want to eat babies.’ should do the trick.

    Then, if that’s too offensive, we can always go back to the well-tread snake.

    1. And words in the heavy metal font with umlauts is always a win.

  31. HOLY FREAKING HELL. They have literally taken the Gadsden Flag (a symbol for individualism and freedom) and used it in a manner that is EXACTLY ASS-BACKWARDS from what it means!

    Fuck these O’care assholes. This shit absolutely insane (and ABSOLUTELY Orwellian).

    1. (a symbol for individualism and freedom) and used it in a manner that is EXACTLY ASS-BACKWARDS from what it means!

      Individualism and freedom are racist.

      1. more sexist than racist.

  32. Lately I’ve been thinking the best visual to accompany “Don’t Tread On Me” would be a dog duty.

    1. Robert, “Dog Duty” is my new band name.

      You are a wonderful thing.

  33. If they ban things that bite, that’ll include me and wouldn’t be right. So I’m ready to put up a fight, and hope some of you would join me if you might, as we try and make what’s wrong so right, and scare the liberty hating mofos and watch as they take flight. With that I bid you goodnight, sleep tight and let the vampires in at night to sink their teeth in your neck, oh but so gentle and light.

  34. I think the main purpose of that image is to antagonize people, with whom the image of the Gadsden Flag resonates.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.