Some days ago, the Czar was in his Trailhawk headed east-bound on a thoroughfare through Muscovy, when he saw in the west-bound lanes a fellow Jeep driver—this one in a stupidly “tacticalized” Jeep Wrangler, with blackened windows, snorkel, black tow winch, and black angry eyes headlight cowl. Whatever floats his boat, we thought; no doubt the driver felt positively badass while driving past strip malls and fast-food places in that expensive mess.
Ah, but then… as he passed us, the Czar saw an American flag hanging off the back of that Wrangler, whipping around.
Doubtless the driver thought this a patriotic display, but in fact, it’s a fulsome violation of the flag code. See this guy, in this picture? Major no-no.
Think about it: this driver believes he travels ahead of the American flag, when in fact the flag should precede him. And let’s be clear: the flag is not there to catch your mud, dust, road debris, and exhaust as it comes off your vehicle.
Here’s what the flag code says about displaying flags on vehicles [4 US § 7 (b)]:
The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
|This is okay. The flag is on the right fender.|
|This is not okay: the flag is hanging off the back of the vehicle.|
|This is not okay. In fact, the Czar is shocked that the American Legion—who defend our flag on our shores—continually fail to deliver an official notice to fire departments nationally that hanging our flag off the dirty ass of your apparatus is against the law.|
|This is okay, but it’s really just a decal, and not a waving flag. But we show it here as an example of what fire departments should be doing. It doesn’t have to be reversed, but many people feel the stars should always lead the way when the vehicle is moving forward. That’s very cool.|
|This isn’t good at all, and NASCAR ought to know better. Because in addition to dragging the flag behind the truck, the flag is being presented to the audience horizontally [4 USC § 8 (c)]; and there’s nothing preventing the flag from touching the ground [4 USC § 8(b)].|
|Which means this is not okay, either.|
|This is okay because it’s not a real flag. Also, stickers, magnetic decals, and so on, aren’t actual waving flags, and aren’t subject to our wrath.|
|What about these things, that you see everywhere? Well, it’s a flag that can wave…so it needs to be on the front right fender or secured to the chassis of the car. So this is a no. Which would be fine, since the Czar sees too many of these curled up in rain gutters.|
An acquaintance of the Czar mentioned to us today that he had no idea that the flag code was so precise about displaying flags on vehicles. Indeed, it’s likely most of the people shown in the no pictures above think they’re doing a wonderful thing. But the flag code covers vehicles, and for very specific reasons: too many flags on vehicles are spattered, ripped, frayed, torn, or dislodge from the vehicle. The flag deserves better than that, of course, and that’s why there are specific laws about this.
Care to argue? The Czar recommends reading the code first: you may be surprised how incredibly specific it is. Check out 4 U.S. Code § 7 (o) if you want to be amazed.