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Speaking of Flags…

Thursday, May 20, 2010, 16:10 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

I was flabbergasted to see a headline on the Drudge Report saying, “WWII Vet Ordered To Remove US Flag From Outside Home.” The article to which Drudge links has an almost identical headline: “Veteran Ordered To Remove Flag From Outside Home.” It sounded like some guy owns a house, has a flag pole in his front yard or affixed to the house, and was told by someone (police? zoning board?) that he couldn’t fly the flag. But the story is something quite different.

Joe LeVangie, 88, said he’s upset after he and his neighbors were told to take their flags down because flying them was against management policy. He said there should be an exception for the flag.

LeVangie, a World War II veteran, said he used to fly his American flag outside his apartment at the Maple Leaf complex in Hillsborough.

So it’s an apartment complex, not a house. And Mr. LeVangie is a renter, not an owner. That’s a very different thing. In my opinion, an apartment complex owner (or even the owner of a single-family house rented to someone else) should be able to control the exterior appearance of his or her property. That may include disallowing window boxes, exterior Christmas lights, bird feeders, signage, and even flags, especially when the display requires attaching or affixing something to the facade. Condominium complexes typically have similar policies since, even though the condos have individual owners, the exterior is maintained by the association.

The headlines for this story, both on the TV station web site and on Drudge, are misleading. I don’t blame Mr. LeVangie and others for complaining, but I most certainly do blame the media for deliberately misrepresenting the situation to stoke public passions. And members of the media wonder why no one trusts them.

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