Flag

Assistant Police Chief Says "Too Many Sacrifices" to Allow Flag Defacing In His Pennsylvania Community

|

trigger warning
via WPXI

The U.S. Code makes desecration of an American flag a crime punishable by up to one year in jail. Most states have their own additional laws. In Pennsylvania it is apparently illegal to "disrespect" the U.S. flag or to use it for publicity or commercial purposes. (No one tell all the businesses in Philly, and elsewhere I'm sure, that use American flags to advertise!)

Joshua Brubacker, of Alleghany Township, found out about laws protecting the American flag last week after spray painting his and flying it upside down in protest, he says, of the sale of Wounded Knee. Via WPXI:

"I was offended by it when I first saw it. I had an individual stop here at the station, a female, who was in the military and she was very offended by it." said Allegheny Township police Assistant Chief L.J. Berg.

Berg said he took the flag down and charged Joshua Brubaker with desecration and insults to the American flag….

"People have made too many sacrifices to protect the flag and to have this happen in my community, I'm not happy with that," Berg said.

Brubaker said he wishes those who were offended would have come to him so he could have explained his position. He is facing misdemeanor charges, but hopes police will reconsider. 

Brubaker also claims he never meant to offend someone which begs the question of what he did intend with displaying a defaced, upside down flag? Protest isn't all that effective if it doesn't upset somebody—it's kind of the point. Brubaker might find more success appealing to his First Amendment rights rather than playing along with (or buying into, as the case may be) the ridiculous notion that in America offensiveness is something the police should, uh, police, or that the right not to be offended is why Americans make sacrifices for their country.

h/t Anthony B.

NEXT: Ronald Bailey on the Moral Case for Designer Babies

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. This raises broader issues – aren’t the cops simply supposed to enforce the laws as written – except unenforceable laws which the courts will strike down, as to which the cops ought to avoid wasting the courts’ time?

    Who cares whether the cops are “offended” or “not happy”? What do this guy’s personal feelings have to do whether he does his duty?

    The law is either valid and enforceable, or it isn’t (it isn’t). This fellow’s “feelz” shouldn’t affect that one way or the other.

    1. That’s a nice thought, but totally unrealistic. Cops are human beings, and like the rest of us, they act on a mixture of reason and emotion. You can’t expect them to banish that part of their nature just because they have been entrusted with the monopoly power on beating people to death in the street with their flashlights.

      That’s why limited government is so important–to take away as many excuses as possible for the cops to harass and brutalize people. That way if a cop arrests a guy for displaying his tablecloth in a way that the cop doesn’t like, it’s the cop who gets punished for exceeding his authority.

      1. It must needs happen that abuses come…but at least the cops should know they’re not *supposed* to so blatantly biased.

      2. Cops are human beings? They seem more like rabid animals with badges to me.

      3. Bullshit. Not only do I expect it, I require it. And if they can’t handle it, they shouldn’t be cops.

        You want to be a cop? I want you looking over your shoulder every second of the day. I want you living in fear that a wrong move will see you watching helplessly from a prison cell while I take your house and put your wife and kids on the street. That way you direct your attention to real crimes that hurt people instead of petty tyrant shit like this.

    2. Kind of puts the lie to “I don’t make the laws, I just enforce them”.

      1. I AM the law.

        /Dredd

    3. Given that the laws all come from someone’s personal feelings or beliefs i.e. subjective values, a cop doing is his job is just deferring blame.

      The vast majority of laws also don’t get struck down and so their legal enforceability really never gets tested. For one you need standing to challenge a law and that means all those who would appeal criminal statutes need to first risk themselves becoming legal criminals. Second, they is no guarantee they’ll succeed or even guarantee their case will be heard.

  2. “I was offended by it when I first saw it. I had an individual stop here at the station, a female, who was in the military and she was very offended by it.”

    Well, what more do you need to say?
    A-1 says clearly that you may speak as you please unless someone is offended, then in the slammer you go!

    1. in the slammer you go!Hey, I want nothing to do with this!

      The culture has gotten to the point where being offended by something= actual, physical attack on a person.

    2. Right, just like A-2 allows you to carry a gun, unless there is someone out there offended by the sight of guns.

    3. What are you, some kind of anti-freedom flag desecrator? The aggrieved person was a woman who was once in the military.

      Everyone knows that it should be illegal to offend female veterans in any way. Unless it’s a female or minority veteran who’s offending the female veteran. Then the hierarchy of minority privilege begins to break down and things get confusing.

      1. “Everyone knows that it should be illegal to offend female veterans in any way. Unless it’s a female or minority veteran who’s offending the female veteran. Then the hierarchy of minority privilege begins to break down and things get confusing.”

        Can’t tell the players without a program…

  3. Begs the question lel

  4. “my community”? So he owns it?

    1. Yes. If you’ve had extensive interaction with police, you’d know that they literally believe that they own the communities they police. And on some level, they’re right, insofar as ownership implies certain rights, powers and privileges, though of course they assume none of the responsibilities or liabilities.

  5. People have made too many sacrifices to protect the flag

    Ugh.

    I’m as non-coercively against flag desecration as one can be, but I sure as hell hope no one has died to protect a piece of fabric or the design thereon. Hopefully they were protecting that for Richard Stands.

    1. Oh Tulpy-Poo, you are the stupidest motherfucker imaginable. Why don’t you kill yourself? Now threaten me, Tulpy-Poo! Come on, this is the best part!

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    2. I sure as hell hope no one has died to protect a piece of fabric

      Well, hate to break it to you, but men have certainly died for the flag. The colors of the regiment were an important part of unit cohesion and control in early modern warfare. Men died to protect them because if they fell, the entire regiment could break and run, fatally weakening an entire army.

      1. Well yeah, I forgot about that. But ultimately they were protecting it because of the need to protect something else.

        1. .

  6. Any statute along these lines is unconstitutional on its face, per the first amendment.

    -jcr

  7. People have made too many sacrifices to protect the flag and to have this happen in my community, I’m not happy with that,” Berg said.

    You know who else made a lot of sacrifices?

    1. The Aztecs?

    2. The State Department’s North African division?

      1. too soon. boo

    3. Moses?

    4. the Vikings?

    5. Tyler Durden?

  8. Someone should replace the toilet paper in the police station with this stuff.

  9. The whole flag desecration thing is stupid. IIRC, flying a national flag upside-down is a distress signal in a maritime context, and I think that’s the root of this as a protest. Unless you’re on a houseboat and you’re wasting the USCG’s time, there should be absolutely no penalty for this.

    1. I’d prefer it be replaced with sandpaper.

      Or maybe the three seashells…

  10. “A New York City cab driver was recently suspended by the Taxi and Limousine Commission for wearing a Nazi armband while driving his cab, a practice he believes is his right. “I’m a National Socialist ? what you guys call a Nazi,” he told CBS New York. “I am. I’m a believer of it.””

    http://gawker.com/suspended-ny…..socialflow

    1. What is important is to read the comments and dwell on which is actually worse = the Nazi cabdriver? or the legions of fucking idiots on Gawker?

      1. Trick Question =

        The Nazi Cabdriver provides an actual service

        Gawker idiots are good for nothing.

        1. “The Nazi Cabdriver provides an actual service”

          Yeah, but he might lie about how he’s driving you to a delousing station.

          1. “Take me to the train station”

            1. I am quite sincere in saying = I genuinely would rather have a world with harmless, cab-driving Nazis versus one populated entirely by the kind of Californians who saw the “Cat saves little boy from Dog” video, and who were absolutely OUTRAGED that *no one would be going to jail* – either the dog owner or child’s parent, who many people repeatedly suggested should have been ‘severely punished’ for their respective neglect.

              1. I don’t read Gawker comments – sounds like you’d have to a masochist to do so, NTTAWWT.

  11. I thought Texas v. Johnson and U.S. v. Eichmann protected flag desecration? Am I misunderstanding their scope?

    1. I’m fairly sure these decisions had that effect.

      1. Joshua Brubacker: “You can’t do this. Laws against flag desecration got declared unconstitutional.”
        Brubacker’s Attorney: “It went out on the radio.”
        Assistant Chief L.J. Berg: “Is that right? Well, we ain’t got a radio.”

  12. “”America: You shit on us every day, so I SHIT ON YOU!!“”

  13. For the Troops is just another For the Children and it makes me furious when tyrants both petty and great try to use it to abrogate the rights of others to suit their own personal preferences. Someone please smack this guy with a copy of the Constitution. You know, the thing that soldiers are sworn to protect? Preferably one etched onto a slab of granite.

  14. I had an individual stop here at the station, a female, who was in the military and she was very offended by it

    What kind of asshole goes to the police station when the see something they don’t like?

    1. A soccer mom?

    2. Probably the same people who call 911 when Burger King screws up their drive thru order.

    3. Total, abject scum?

    4. “What kind of asshole goes to the police station when the see something they don’t like?”

      The answer’s right there in your question.

    5. Right, a good libertarian would have just shot the house owner with one of their military assault rifles.

      1. ^ This is awesome. Hydra gets called out for obviously being Tulpa, so Tulpa creates another sockpuppet.

        1. He’s always two steps ahead of you, Irish. That’s how smart Tulpy-Poo is. He’s like Deep Blue and you’re just Garry Kasparov.

        2. And he’s switched from his normal annoying contrarianism to outright trolling.

        3. What’s awesome is how quickly it got stomped down.

      2. Why the hell wouldn’t I have my private police force do that for me? I mean, the flag desecrator’s private police force could give resistance.

    6. Check your privilege.

      If you were a female veteran who had endured the mind-rape of seeing a piece of cloth owned by someone else flown improperly on his own property, maybe then you could understand why she had to go out of her way to encourage costume-wearing bipedal apes to go to his house and drag him off to a cell.

    1. I don’t carry derringers in my armpits, though.

    2. Shouldn’t it be sleeveless?

    3. I didn’t think there were any libertarian women?

  15. “I was offended by it when I first saw it. I had an individual stop here at the station, a female, who was in the military and she was very offended by it.” said Allegheny Township police Assistant Chief L.J. Berg.

    Lissen, boy. We didn’t kill all them injuns and Huns and gooks so you could run around offendin people.

  16. The Atlantic: Technology that cures deafness is threatening deaf identity.

    Hear that, deaf people? You should just remain disabled forever because the Atlantic cares so much about your identity.

    1. Within the deaf population, there is a divide over how people with hearing loss should approach technology. The Deaf (note the capital “D”) subculture, largely using ASL, believes we should embrace our deafness and not treat it as something to be “fixed.” Whereas the deaf (lowercase “d”) community has adopted devices to hear and speak, becoming a part of the hearing world. The conflict is essentially over our individual approaches towards our hearing loss, by way of culture and technology.

      Progressives are mentally ill. If your identity is based on the most disabling aspect of who you are, there is something seriously wrong with you.

      If I lost an arm, I wouldn’t join the Armless community, and I would be ecstatic if they developed technology that allowed my arm to be regrown.

    2. Are you saying Gary Busey shouldn’t have been born again?

      1. .

    3. To be honest, it’s a known phenomenon that a fair number of deaf people have a tendency to be incredibly tribal and are even known to try and have deaf kids so that their kids have the same experience as them. Which is horrible, but it happens.

    4. Yeah, things like music and car horns suck.

    5. Similarly, the proggies must love the poor, since they keep so many people in that condition.

      1. The Poor subculture, largely using welfare, believe we should embrace our poorness and not get decent jobs.

    6. Hear that, deaf people?

      No.

    7. Patrick Dehahn’s next article will investigate the scourge of golden rice, which threatens the malnourished, blind children identity.

      Snark aside, technological progress sometimes does result in a real loss of traditional communities, which can lead to people feeling uprooted and adrift. You can see it in more mundane ways, like old southerners who look back wistfully on picking cotton by hand or the communities that were held together by that relationship in the pre-tractor days.

      1. Gold. Especially prefixing the second paragraph whih “Snark Aside”.

        1. So it doesn’t happen?

          1. To be clear, the loss of community on the basis of technological advancement is just another kind of creative destruction, just like mom & pop businesses folding when Wal-Mart comes to town. Sucks for them as business owners, but it’s good for the consumer.

            Only an idiot would want to halt advances and the resulting loss of community, but that’s distinct from denying that the community is lost.

            1. Right but it also gets into the nonsense of assuming that it’s impossible to have community in a more corporate type environment.

              For example, Waffle House is a big corporation. But my Waffle House is just like local diner of lore. I know the staff, they know me. Their checks might come down from some corporate big shot, but my waiter knows my usual order and keeps my coffee topped up.

    8. The comments are, thankfully, pretty much calling bullshit, though.

    9. Some time back, reason did a story that included something about Planet Deafqueer.

      [looks for the article]

      It turns out it was a comment in an October 2012 AM Links.

  17. lol Habs

  18. NPR discusses being nostalgic for the days of segregation and Jim Crow.

    “We had our own grocery stores, black doctors, lawyers, dentists, hotel, movie theaters, shoe repairmen, our own segregated YMCA,” Fields says.

    Aren’t I supposed to hate the old guy from Duck Dynasty for basically making the same argument the Good Progs at NPR are now making?

    1. Personally I think the riots in the 60s did a hell of a lot to destroy the black community. Assholes burning your store will make you say “fuck it, I’m taking the insurance check and buying a house in the suburbs which are now an option.”

  19. which is actually worse = the Nazi cabdriver? or the legions of fucking idiots on Gawker?

    Collectivist tribalism is bad, except when it isn’t.

    You’re allowed encouraged to hate the appropriate designated groups.

  20. “We had our own grocery stores, black doctors, lawyers, dentists, hotel, movie theaters, shoe repairmen, our own segregated YMCA,” Fields says.

    And children in those communities had real-life entrepreneurial role models, and saw successful people in their neighborhoods every day.

    Yeah, I know.

    I’m gonna go sit in a corner with my Klan hood on, now.

  21. And a further example of how bizz loves CA:

    “Pratt & Whitney engine maker leaving San Diego”
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/tex…..hc-bustech

    You’ll notice the press release merely claims a slow-down in demand, and the proggy commenters buy that ‘spend more time with my family’ BS.
    But you’ll also notice the plants in FL, GA and TX aren’t being closed.
    Bonus: One idjit claims it can’t be CA’s regs, since the Dems lost the supermajority! See, smarty pants! What about THAT?

  22. OT: So Modi and his party won big in India. I admit I’m surprised there hasn’t been a Shikha article on it yet. Maybe she’s in mourning?

    1. Maybe she’s waiting for him to do something bad, so she can point to it and say “I was right!”.

      After all, she pretty much called the election result, so there’s nothing new to say yet.

  23. “People have made too many sacrifices to protect the flag and to have this happen in my community, I’m not happy with that,” ”

    No, you fuckwit, they sacrificed to defend, among other rights, those protected by the first amendment, which you are certainly violating. Oh, and no one gives a shit how you feel.

  24. Did they haul this punk down to the station and try to give him a haircut?

  25. Just jump over the hoops dude, it will be OK.

    http://www.YourAnon.tk

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.