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Defending the right to fly the Tea Party flag

Andy McDonel is defending his American right to fly the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, which has become the symbol of the Tea Party movement. As regular readers know, I don’t have much sympathy for the Tea Party. But I want to stand up for McDonel’s right to fly the flag of his choice.

The flag struggle in Laveen, Ariz., was the subject of a nice feature in this morning’s New York Times by Marc Lacey. He reports:

This year, Mr. McDonel began flying a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag on his roof in this unincorporated area just outside Phoenix. The historic banner — which dates to 1775, when it was hoisted aboard ships during the initial days of the Revolutionary War — has been adopted by the Tea Party movement. But Mr. McDonel said that he had unfurled the flag for its historical significance and nothing else....

This month, he received a letter from the homeowners’ association ordering him to remove “the debris” from his roof. It threatened fines if the debris (i.e., the flag) did not go within 10 days. But Mr. McDonel, 32, a logistics operation manager, has vowed to fight the order.

“It’s a patriotic gesture,” he said of his banner. “It’s a historic military flag. It represents the founding fathers. It shows this nation was born out of an idea.”

I don’t think a homeowner’s association has the right to treat free expression in the same way it might treat, say, junk on the front lawn. To describe a flag as “debris” is to demean free speech rights. Imagine if I were the only liberal living in a community whose board was controlled by Tea Party members. Would the homeowner’s association have the right to tell me that the “Raise Taxes on the Rich” sign in my front yard was “debris?” No, they could not. Nor could a board controlled by Yankees fans tell me I had to remove my Red Sox banner.

But I’d remind my Tea Party friends that the principle I’m expressing here is rooted in the idea that certain individual rights trump property rights. For example, I also believe that owners of shopping centers cannot and should not bar individuals from giving out political leaflets in their spaces. I worry that especially in the suburban and exurban parts of our country, we are privatizing public space and in the process reducing our right to political expression. Shopping centers are our new town squares. They should be free space for free speech.

As for Mr. McDonel, whether he is making a political statement or not – he denies political motives – he should be able to fly his “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.

There is, of course, the matter of aesthetics. Among the Revolutionary War flags, I find the Don’t Tread on Me flag less attractive than two other classics: the Bunker Hill flag and the Flag of New England. I've also always been fond of the "Appeal to Heaven" flag, which might be attractive to more religious Tea Party members.

But I don’t have the right to impose my taste in flags on Tea Party members any more than they can impose their tastes on me. We can agree that, thank God, we are a free country. So: Free Andy McDonel’s flag!

By E.J. Dionne  | August 31, 2010; 9:18 AM ET
Categories:  Dionne  | Tags:  E.J. Dionne  
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Comments

It is getting worse every day. There is always some one or some "little" group who want to cause other people trouble. If it is not their idea or what they want, they want you to suffer.

Posted by: jbrandt0001 | August 31, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

my HOA won't let me put a stupid satellite dish on my roof. If I paint it up to look like this stupid flag of his, can I b}tch and moan and try to get a free pass from the media?

This is America, fly the AMERICAN red, white, and blue. If he wants to fly a flag that didn't make the cut 200 years ago, build a time machine and hook up with the colonial navy.

Otherwise, T.S. Rules are rules.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | August 31, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

How would you feel if Andy McDonel was flying "Stars N Bars"?

Posted by: knjincvc | August 31, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Dionne has it a little bit right. Freedom of speech is important.

But he seems to cast off property rights and contracts as secondary or unimportant, which dovetails nicely with the Obama administration's view that all property belongs to the collective and can either be taken or controlled at the whim of the government.

I suspect that Mr. McDonel would happily trade his Gadsden flag for a U.S. where property rights and private contracts were secure.

Posted by: pilsener | August 31, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I believe that a HOA can ban political lawn signs. I belong to an online community for discussion of financial topics. Discussion of politics is banned. Neither ban is an affront to free speech.

My HOA not only prevents me from posting my reasonable political views in sight of my neighbors, it prevents my neighbors from bombarding me with their out-of-touch wacky views. I consider it a fair trade. I was free to buy elsewhere, as I am free to discuss politics outside my online financial discussion group. Don't deny me the right to make a choice to be free of political bickering when I am in my own home.

Posted by: sscritic | August 31, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Good luck with HOAs: they rule the roost. IF you want to be able to do anything, move!

Posted by: AMviennaVA | August 31, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Hey, the irony of having a neo-communist group like a Homeowner's Association telling a guy he can't fly a "don't tread on me" flag is too much. I'd say if he really loves freedom, he ought to move.

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | August 31, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I don’t think a homeowner’s association has the right to treat free expression in the same way it might treat, say, junk on the front lawn. To describe a flag as “debris” is to demean free speech rights. Imagine if I were the only liberal living in a community whose board was controlled by Tea Party members. Would the homeowner’s association have the right to tell me that the “Raise Taxes on the Rich” sign in my front yard was “debris?” No, they could not.
--------------------------
I strongly support your position on the flag, or other political statement.
Unfortunately I'm afraid they can. A homeowners association is an allegedly voluntary civil contractual relationship, not a government (even if it doesn't pass the duck test very well). You don't have to by a home in their territory. They can tell you what color your drapes must be, how to keep your lawn, whether you can have a motorcycle or truck on the premises, and any other rule they might come up with. They can even sell your property while you are on vacation for the amount of a 'fine' they choose to levy, in many jurisdictions.
Note that I do not favor such (petty) de facto governments, but they have become a sad reality that it is difficult to escape.

Posted by: pcgeorge | August 31, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

EJ conflates three different First Amendment issues in this post:

1. Privatization of public space: That isn't what's going on here. The guy's house is not a public space. Neither is his lawn. The question is who gets to control it, but it isn't public space. The question of shopping centers as the new town square has been addressed by the Supreme Court; the more difficult cases are new "town centers" that, unlike typical shopping malls, really do incorporate streets and squares into their design but are governed as if they were private property. For example, Silver Spring's new town center. The courts are wrestling with these, and I am optimistic the First Amendment will win.

2. Condo associations. Condo boards, unlike homeowner associations, typically govern the entity that is the actual property owner of house exteriors and common areas of a condo. To the extent there is a First Amendment right to free expression from those common areas, the right generally belongs to the condominium. The same goes, even more so, for co-ops.

3. Homeowners' associations that do not have any ownership interest in the property. Here, an "association" acts as a quasi-government, and the laws have not, in my opinion, caught up to this reality. My own view is that actions by a homeowners' association to limit political speech that would ordinarily be exercised by an individual from his home -- such as flying a flag or displaying a lawn sign -- should be governed by the same First Amendment principles that restrain government action. But the law is not there yet.

Posted by: Meridian1 | August 31, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

my HOA won't let me put a stupid satellite dish on my roof. If I paint it up to look like this stupid flag of his, can I b}tch and moan and try to get a free pass from the media?

This is America, fly the AMERICAN red, white, and blue. If he wants to fly a flag that didn't make the cut 200 years ago, build a time machine and hook up with the colonial navy.

Otherwise, T.S. Rules are rules.

------
Your HOA cannot prohibit you from installing a satalitte dish per the Telecommunications act of 1996. There is specific language in that act which prescribes HOA's from preventing you from putting up a "digital satalitte dish" and it gives the maximum dimensions. As for the flag, depending on the by-laws the HOA rules stand. There has been at least two cases here in Central Virginia regarding the US Flag being flown on a flag pole at a homeowners house and the courts (again in VA, so the homeowner in question may have a shot in AZ) upheld the HOA's rules that prohibited the flag pole and flag. The latest case was about two years ago should you like to look it up, but I cannot remember the gentlemans name or the name of the HOA.

Posted by: bob53 | August 31, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

EJ,

I'm glad to be able to agree with you... on something!

I too have occassionally flown my "Don't Tread on Me" flag for decades.

I know the historical history and the events that spawned that flag.

Its an American Flag - brought forth by heroic American freedom fighters.

While I mostly just fly the good old Stars and Stripes, anyone trying to force me to take down the Don't Tread on Me flag should first read the words on it.

Nobody will stop me from flying it when I care to.

I don't care if the Tea Party or Communist Party uses it.

They can use it if they like, but its not just theirs. Its also MINE - given to me by long dead Americans.


(By the way... I also sometimes fly the 82nd Airborne flag. Let someone try to force me to take that one down too!!!)

Posted by: Davidsonville | August 31, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Pilsener said: Dionne has it a little bit right. Freedom of speech is important.

But he seems to cast off property rights and contracts as secondary or unimportant, which dovetails nicely with the Obama administration's view that all property belongs to the collective and can either be taken or controlled at the whim of the government.

I suspect that Mr. McDonel would happily trade his Gadsden flag for a U.S. where property rights and private contracts were secure.
-------------------------------------------
The collective did tell this guy what to do. Isn't the HOA a collective? Your argument used to bash Obama holds no water. Dionne is just saying he feels the guy should have rights to fly a flag. I don't disagree.

Posted by: mty917 | August 31, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

We've been flying the First Navy Jack for years. If people don't like it, that's their problem.

Posted by: kirnosnorbin | August 31, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, if you bought a house in a subdivision with CC&R's, you agreed to the restrictions imposed. Those could include all sorts of silly little things like, as someone mentioned, having a satellite dish mounted on one's roof, or possibly mandating the kinds of vehicles you can have parked in your driveway. Those of us who don't like that persnickety attitude(and I am one) don't shop in those kinds of subdivisions, even if we could afford those kinds of houses, which many of us, of course, cannot.

Posted by: martymar123 | August 31, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

He does and does not have the right to fly the flag. Homeowner associations have very very broad powers and some are - in my opinion - undemocratic. In fact anyone who wants to live in certain areas should read carefully their "rights". You would be surprised how many "rights" homeowner associations deny people.

Posted by: rlj1 | August 31, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Never cared much for "deed-restricted" communities in the first place. Any HOA, without a sufficiently restrictive charter that LIMITS their ability to regulate, is eventually going to descend into hateful "group-think".

As I told my niece (who lives in one of these conformist hell-holes in Florida), I would rather live across the street from a purple house, than live in a neighborhood where purple houses are banned.

Posted by: OldUncleTom | August 31, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

the homeowner agreed to the HOA rules when he signed the HOA agreement. There's nothing in the First Amendment that prevents you from voluntarily agreeing not to speak (fly a flag). He did (assuming the HOA actually covers the subject), and he can't invoke free speech to wiggle out of his own agreement.

Posted by: JoeT1 | August 31, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Isn't false advertizing against the law? Tea baggers flying ANY American flag is a fraud, as they hate America. They'd be better flying the Star and Bars of the Confederate Traitors or the Swastika of the Third Reich.

Posted by: Garak | August 31, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

To mty917: the part of dionne's analysis I object to, is making private property (shopping malls, stores, etc) public. It's private property and the government should not be allowed to make rules about leafleting or speech-making on private property.

An HOA is a contractual situation that you subject yourself to. No one forces you to buy a house with a set of covenants. If you can convince the other homeowners, existing covenants can be changed.

I think the HOA should allow the man to fly his flag, but inserting government because life is sometimes unfair is still a bad idea.

Posted by: pilsener | August 31, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I think if E.J (as well as Dana and Eugene) where honest and objective after watching the Washington Tea Party rally this weekend - they would be embarrassed and professionally ashamed as journalists for the constant bashing and mis-characterisation of the core of this movement. But I think that would be asking too much of this trio.

Posted by: lynnman1 | August 31, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Enlighten us, lynnman1. Tell us what the Tea Party core is really all about. I probably am wrong in my assesment and I would really like to hear your side - but an intellectually honest and factual response please.

Or would that be asking too much of you as well?

Posted by: BigBambu | August 31, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Well, as a long time HOA officer, I'm going to chime in on the other side of this argument. I will grant you that some HOA's can get carried away with their rules. But these cases are generally rare and often misrepresented in the media. However, you need to understand the purposes of having an HOA in the first place. Principal among them is to preserve the appearance and design integrity of the community, thereby maintaining everyone's property values. Another purpose is to prevent nuisance uses of the properties in the community, such as raising livestock, operating an auto repair business, and (yes) flying flags and posting signs. The simple facts of HOA law in Virginia are that the HOA declarations must be provided to a prospective owner prior to closing. The procedures for amending the declarations are purposefully difficult, so HOA officers may not change the rules whimsically. Therefore, members of an HOA in Virginia should know the rules before they buy and have every expectation that the rules will be enforced.

Also, the entire First Amendment argument is groundless here. The First Amendment protects citizens from the Government. An HOA is a private organization unconstrained by the Bill of Rights in its actions.

Finally, as another poster noted, an HOA cannot have a blanket prohibition on satellite dishes or other outdoor antennae, at least not since the Telecommunications Act of 1996. They can, however, require the property owner to place the antenna in a location where it is least visible from common areas and other homes, as long as it can receive a signal properly.

Posted by: hisroc | August 31, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Notwithstanding the snake as an appropriate symbol for these folks, who gave the Tea Baggers the right to appropriate this important Revolutionary War symbol? Let them get their own flag. How about one with the block letters, HELL, NO!.

Posted by: BBear1 | August 31, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

He can fly whatever flag he wants. And I can laugh at him however often and for however long I want. America is great!

Posted by: jakemehoffer | August 31, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

In a Right Winger's world, the government shouldn't intervene when a Right Wing flag is involved, but only if a Muslim wants to build on his own land.

Posted by: jakemehoffer | August 31, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see a little investigative journalism as to who is bankrolling these Tallibaggers.

Posted by: SarahBB | August 31, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Boy EJej - this is good stuff!!Not like your usual drivel :_
Did you get up too late for your morning talking points???

Posted by: thornegp2626 | August 31, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Although I support his patriotism, I don't know how much legal ground he has. He voluntarily joined the home owners association and therefore has to abide by the rules. This is one of the reasons why HOA's are total BS.

Posted by: Jsuf | August 31, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Jsuf,

There is rarely an HOA in a trailer court or public housing. Live there. You will fit right in.

Posted by: hisroc | August 31, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

"I'd like to see a little investigative journalism as to who is bankrolling these Tallibaggers."

You won't find that here, but check out Frank Rich's column in Sunday's NYTimes.

Posted by: fzdybel | August 31, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I WISH MR. MCDONEL THE BEST OF LUCK - BUT SOMEHOW WHEN ONE MOVES INTO A RESIDENCE THAT HAS A HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, ONE APPARENTLY GIVES UP ALL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS --THE ONLY EQUALLY REPRESSIVE PLACE I CAN THINK OF IN THE US IS AN AIRPORT!!

Posted by: KENMAREINC | August 31, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Let him fly the flag - all it does is warn people that a tea bagger lives there.

Posted by: KHMJr | August 31, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

My neighborhood homeowner's association has several rules about what you can place on your property and where you can place it. When a person buys a house in this neighborhood, he/she agrees to abide by the homeowner association's rules. The association has an annual meeting where the homeowners collectively can make or change the rules. It is a good idea to keep the neighborhood nice for everyone.

Posted by: ThelmaMcCoy | August 31, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

hisroc,


If I lived in public housing I would be one of your people.

Are you angry at me because I agree with the man or are you angry because I think HOA's are BS?

Posted by: Jsuf | August 31, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

I think the discussion is good in theory, but the rest of the article sheds more light. They sent him a previous 'debris' removal notice for the broken treadmill he was keeping on his porch. Let's not draw constitutional conclusions from silly disputes between neighbors. Next month when he has a rusty lawn mower propped up against his stoop I think we'll mostly agree the Home Owners association is doing good work.

Posted by: Dremit97 | August 31, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Dionne has this exactly right. HOAs should not be exercising whatever blanket powers they assume over individual citizens/homeowners' rights.

I'm no fan of the Tea Party, let's be clear. But I'd just as soon defend this man's right to put up that flag. Its image being co-opted by the Tea Party, to me is detestable. But the right to express one's political beliefs is not. Nor does the HOA ruling make the problem go away. Assuming it is a valid interpretation of HOA rights versus individual rights, it only makes the image of the problem go away. It also doesn't endear this Tea Party advocate to educate himself more on what is ACTUALLY happening to his rights. At best, it only gives him the excuse to bathe in the anger and ignorant frustration that may very well have aligned him with the Tea Party in the first place. And if folks want to accuse me of elitism for paralleling an earlier argument of Obama's (one that got Obama accused of being an elitist while he was campaigning), so be it.

Posted by: arkhon | August 31, 2010 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I happen to live in an Avalon complex in Mass. This has nothing to do with freedom or flags. The esthetics of the place are important to the residents. If this guy puts up his flag, especially now that he ran to the press before the committee was finished, don't I have the right to put up political posters. The country has been using political posters since before this flag was invented. "How about Holloween decorations?" "Of course not!" "Oh Yeah, what about that dude with the flag, you let him."
This is a neighborhood complaint in the real world, not some freedom issue. This false news doesn't belong in the paper.

Posted by: Petronius_Jones | August 31, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

You can't call a flag, "debris". I don't think it fits the definition. It certainly shows conyempt for the man's right to frree speech. Apparently there must not be an hoa rule prohibiting "flags".

Posted by: bobilly1 | August 31, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Jsuf,

I'm not angry with you. I just think that you are an uninformed person who does not appreciate the aesthetics of a well-managed community. Move some place where they have no rules whatsoever and knock yourself out with your need for self-expression. Just don't bother complaining when your neighbors infringe one way or another on your enjoyment of the community with their activities or displays. Oh, and good luck with selling your place when your next door neighbor starts raising goats in his yard.

Posted by: hisroc | August 31, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

As the late great DC philosopher Root Boy Slim once said, "You Can't Quit My Club." This guy will forever be associated with that gang of fools known as the teabaggers!

Posted by: johng1 | August 31, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

The homeowners' association is legally (and I, think, personally, morally) correct. It is NOT making a determination based on content, but on preventing the proliferation of banners, flags and other gaudy distractions. The gay rights flag or the African liberation flag are equally prohibited.

As for McDonel, if he is allowed to get away with this, how long before his “Don’t Tread on Me” flag is replaced by the Confederate flag or, a banner depicting President Obama as a witch doctor. Be careful what you ask for....

Posted by: query0 | August 31, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

“I don’t think a homeowner’s association has the right to treat free expression in the same way it might treat, say, junk on the front lawn.”

A homeowner’s association has the powers given to it by its’ members (the homeowners). Mr. McDonel agreed to abide by the rules of the homeowner’s association when he bought his house. If he’s unhappy with the power they have, then he can either change the by-laws, or he can move.

“To describe a flag as “debris” is to demean free speech rights.”

Really, any “flag” meets that criteria? I doubt it.

“Imagine if I were the only liberal living in a community whose board was controlled by Tea Party members. Would the homeowner’s association have the right to tell me that the “Raise Taxes on the Rich” sign in my front yard was “debris?” No, they could not.”

Yes they could, if their by-laws gave them the authority to do so.

“Nor could a board controlled by Yankees fans tell me I had to remove my Red Sox banner.”

Yes they could, if their by-laws gave them the authority to do so.

“But I’d remind my Tea Party friends that the principle I’m expressing here is rooted in the idea that certain individual rights trump property rights.”

I believe Mr. Dionne believes property rights are nearly always trumped by the will of the people.

“For example, I also believe that owners of shopping centers cannot and should not bar individuals from giving out political leaflets in their spaces.”

So then by extension, homeowners can’t bar solicitors from their property. That would deny them their free speech.

“Shopping centers are our new town squares. They should be free space for free speech.“

No, a town square is owned by the city (i.e. all the citizens). A shopping center is (usually) owned by a person or corporation. Completely different. But again, for Mr. Dionne, the will of the people trumps private property rights.

Posted by: MDLaxer | August 31, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

He's got it wrong - he should be flying the Nazi Party flag since that is more in line with Tea Party views, actions, and attitudes. And these thugs have the audacity to claim they are 'true' Americans - disgusting.

Posted by: whelms | August 31, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse


Dionne, This is the first time I actually agree with you. Good blog.

Posted by: janet8 | August 31, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Hisroc,


If you read my comment from the beginning I said that even though I agreed with the man, he voluntarily joined the HOA therefore he probably has no case.

As for HOA's, I do not have one nor ever want one. I prefer not to have someone tell me how my yard can look. It is your choice to live in a community with a home owners association, but I find them intrusive.

Posted by: Jsuf | August 31, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

The normal procedure with a Home Owner Association is that you sign a written agreement to abide by the rules and regulations of the association....
McDonel will find himself in a bit of a bind if he did sign such an agreement!

Posted by: SeniorVet | August 31, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

Jsuf,

I did read your comment from the beginning. Taken in total, it was classic boolean logic. If McDonnell has no case because he voluntarily joined the HOA, then HOA's are BS.

Did I get that right, sport?

Posted by: hisroc | August 31, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, E.J., my sympathy is with you and the flag-flyer, but my logic is with the HOA. These legal creatures are pretty much iron-clad and bullet-proof around the country. Their history is really checkered, but it is a very serious question of private property rights vs. individual, constitutional rights.

Can one sign away certain 1st Amendment rights by agreeing to an HOA covenant when purchasing a property? Not sure. Maybe.

Can the display of national symbols such as this historic flag on private property be regarded as governable by these HOAs? Don't know. Possibly.

Will such disputes between private property/contractual law continue to but heads with "unalienable" individual rights in this country. Absolutely guaranteed.

Posted by: AnOldProfessor | August 31, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse


Please, let them fly their flags so we can identify them and steer clear of them.


Posted by: thecontributist | August 31, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Hisroc,


Yes HOA's are BS because of the restrictions, however I did say that he voluntarily joined it and therefore has no grounds to object. This is merely my opinion on HOA's and as I said before, you have the choice to live in a community that has one "sport."

Posted by: Jsuf | August 31, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

AnOldProfessor,

I assume that you are a professor of BS, because you clearly do not understand our Constitution. People do not enjoy civil liberties in private contractual relationships and routinely "sign away" their rights. If you sign an employment agreement with non-competition and non-disclosure clauses, do you not "sign away" First Amendment rights? If the employment agreement includes a clause on workplace violence, do you not "sign away" Second Amendment rights?

Your argument is ludicrous.

Posted by: hisroc | August 31, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet. The 53 pages of Rules in the Harbour Square Cooperative in SW Washingon DC...former home of VP Humphrey, Justice Souter, Congressmen and Senators...have RULEs..Hearings will be held if there are violations and one can get up to a five hundred dollar fine and or the Coop can sell the unit of the owner and require the owner to move out!!! Senator Paul Simon once rented here and he said that our Politics were worse than those of the U.S. Senate! Some call "hearings" witch trials....

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | August 31, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Everything here simply depends on what the HOA rules are. He agreed to those when he bought the property. Sounds to me like they don't have a specific rule against flags in general. Sounds like they prohibit political signs (he says this isn't political) so they probably can't enforce that on him. Other than that, they are apparently trying to use a general "no debris" covenant. If that's it, they are toast.

Posted by: termiteavenger | August 31, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, all too many people oppose the abridgement of others' free speech rights except when it concerns their own.

Posted by: billeisen1 | August 31, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

In this country you should have the right to do what you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else...

But if a HOA says our rules are "this" and you sign the contract to live here...personal responsibility must take precident unless the rules hurt someone else.

Flying the stars and bars or the "don't tread on me" harms nobody... but it says something about the person flying it...

The stars and bars crys out "loser" for me and the DTOM flag says angry conservative milita. I would not choose to live where such ignorance runs rampant.

Posted by: dwdave67 | August 31, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh goody... I'm going to plant 50 Perkins-Restaurant-sized American flags in my front yard (one for each state), paint my house the brightest red, white, and blue, and blast patriotic music from every window at all hours of the day and night. As long as my HOA rule-breaking is patriotic, I ought to be entitled to it.

Posted by: georgereston | August 31, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

What really irritated liberals about the Beck DC rally was the great number of American flags that were displayed. Nothing gets to liberals more than public display of the American flag, a public recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and robust singing of the Star Spangled Banner. That would be enough to give any liberal dyspepsia- add a prayer to the mix and you can cause ulcers.

Posted by: mhr614 | August 31, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

whelms wrote:

"He's got it wrong - he should be flying the Nazi Party flag..."
---------------
If you buy E. J. Dionne's argument, in as much as flying the Nazi flag is an exercise of free speech, Mr. McDonel (or one or more of his neighbors) should be allowed to do this.

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www.GlennBeckIsNotMartinLutherKingJr.com

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http://www.colorofchange.org/beck/

Posted by: redjanuko | August 31, 2010 10:05 PM | Report abuse

America doesn't need an effeminate commie like Dionne to grant us the to speak out. Unlike the punk liberals, we support his right to say all the stupid things he can, mostly because it shows him for the poison dwarf he is.

Posted by: carlbatey | August 31, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to see a little investigative journalism as to who is bankrolling these Tallibaggers.
Posted by: SarahBB | August 31, 2010 6:17 ===================
Check out the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers. They are even lower than "Freedomworks." They are bankrolling these new brownshirts. Kind of removes the words "grass roots," no? Then there's the hype from Fox "News."

Posted by: revbookburn | August 31, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm think I will get the DTOM flag and fly it directly under Old Glory. Maybe a DTOM bumper sticker too?? Would that be too audacious?? LOL never mind I don't know or care what audacious means.

Who knows... maybe I will get invited to a TEA Party and join the rest of America.

BTW the dems are going to lose the House and Senate in November. My how times are a changing. Finally...

Posted by: Straightline | August 31, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

"my HOA won't let me put a stupid satellite dish on my roof."

This is illegal. By FCC rule they must let you put a satellite dish up.

Contact the FCC for more information.

Posted by: Ombudsman1 | August 31, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

we support his right to say all the stupid things he can, mostly because it shows him for the poison dwarf he is.

Posted by: carlbatey | August 31, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

=
oh the irony.

Posted by: mikem1 | August 31, 2010 10:42 PM | Report abuse

my HOA won't let me put a stupid satellite dish on my roof. If I paint it up to look like this stupid flag of his, can I b}tch and moan and try to get a free pass from the media?

This is America, fly the AMERICAN red, white, and blue. If he wants to fly a flag that didn't make the cut 200 years ago, build a time machine and hook up with the colonial navy.

Otherwise, T.S. Rules are rules.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | August 31, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse
-------------------------------------------
Check FCC Rules of 1996. That is, if you're prepared for a fight. Most Prohibitions, and Covenants, against small Antenna dishes, have been declared Illegal, by the FCC. You'll even have built-in protections, in case of harrassment. Check it out. There've been updates, in 2007, and perhaps other years.
---------
As directed by Congress in Section 207 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission
-----------
Dennis

Posted by: Shadowsmgc | August 31, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

When Teabaggin' Andy McDonel joined the homeowners' association, he agreed to abide by the rules of the association.

If billionaire David Koch tried dangling a political banner from one of the many windows of his "nine-thousand-square-foot duplex at 740 Park Avenue,"* the co-op board wouldn't stand for it.

While billionaire Koch is too smooth for such childish displays (what would the other board members of the New York City Ballet say) he's happy to promote them in others, like Andy McDonel, while chuckling from a safe distance.

*...http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/08/30/100830fa_fact_mayer

Posted by: HughBriss | August 31, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

See this is what I am talking about the GOP/Teabaggers/Nuts?kooks are giving an 10 point LEAD by the Gallup however, judging from the average American posting it doesn't coincide

THE TEA PARTY MEMBERS ARE GOING TO TURN ALL THEIR CANDIDATES INTO NY23 COME NOVEMBER 2ND

NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND ARE GOING TO LET THE HOUSE BE RULED BY ORANGE MAN AND RYAN WHO WANT TO PRIVATIZED SS AND KILL MEDICARE

WATCH HOW GRANDMA AND GRANDPA SWITCH THEIR VOTES ONCE THEY GET INTO THE BOOTH

WHEN CHANGE COME....

THE OLD WAYS DON'T COUNT ANYMORE

ALREADY THE REPUBLICANS IN ALASKA ARE BEGINNING TO TURN THEIR ATTENTION TO THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE...

MILLER IS NOT EVEN FROM ALASKA...HE'S FROM KANSAS

ALASKA IS MOSTLY ON SS AND GET MEDICARE DOES HE REALLY THINK THAT HE'S GOING TO WIN????

Posted by: danders5000 | August 31, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

danders5000,

Your arguments are so much more effective when you type them is all caps, YOU IDIOT!

November 2nd is going to be a very unpleasant night for you. Sorry, but that is how it is going to play out and the more denial you indulge in the worse it is going to be.

P.S. Medicare was killed by ObamaCare. Reducing Medicare reimbursement rates that will make no health care providers willing to take new Medicare patients was one of Pelosi's smoke & mirror tricks to claim that ObamaCare would actually reduce the deficit. The Congressional Budget Office now says that it was a fraud.

Posted by: hisroc | August 31, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

to all,

the best thing that i can say about this fall is that on 11/02/2010 the DIMocRATS will LOSE both houses of Congress & bho will be IRRELEVANT for the last two years of his MISRULE.====> LAME DUCK. thy name is obama.
(01-20-2012 cannot come soon enough for me & my family.)

it won't even be close. instead it will be a BLOODBATH for the LEFT & the DIMocRATS.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | September 1, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

"I don’t think a homeowner’s association has the right to treat free expression in the same way it might treat, say, junk on the front lawn. "

Well you are mistaken. The courts see HOAs simply as contracts, and you can contract away just about every right you have. This guy *may* get away with his Gadsden Flag because his state has a law restricting HOAs from prohibiting US or military flags. You can call the Gadsden Flag a military flag. If it was a Greek flag or he was flying it in another state, he would be out of luck.

Americans need to start seeing HOAs for what they really are: governments. They levy taxes, make laws, levy fines and their decisions are backed by the courts. HOA residents deserve the same rights and protections that other citizens are guaranteed by the constitution.

http://hoahell.com/

Posted by: robotfrost | September 1, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if the guy in the HOA would be ok with his neighbors flying a Muslim flag. Dont know if there even is one , but if there was I bet that would flip a few of these commenters. I got a neighbor that puts confederate flag logos on everything. He got flags flopping on both sides of his pickup. Hes got a six footer on the back of his lawn mower, he got t-shirts, caps, cowboy hats, four stickers on his car, etc. So whats the message hes trying to send. He supports slavery? The war that nearly destroyed our country? Some kind of perverse idea of freedom? The confederacy wasnt a good idea way back and it certainly wont help anything now. One nation under God indivisible with freedom and justice for all. Why do so many people that claim to support the pledge not understand what it really means?

Posted by: jimbobkalina | September 1, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with anything the Tea Party has to offer, but I defend the guy's right to fly his flag. So long as it's on his private property, and not on land paid for by taxpayers, he should be able to fly whatever he chooses.

I do find it ironic that the ACLU is fighting for this guy's right, when the ACLU is so hated amongst conservatives.

Posted by: member8 | September 1, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Before we all go around supporting this guy and making him out to be a hero, let me tell you a little about the "TRUE" Andy McDonel. He is spending all this time and effort fighting over a flag on his house, he read and signed the bylaws from the CC&R's when he bought this house. I wish he would spend this type of effort on his daughter. The one that he has only seen 2 times since last December. Also the same one that he has not paid any child support for in almost a year. The New York Times says Andy is a a logistics operation manager, which is not true he is currently unemployed. Which brings the point if the ACLU is helping him out, why is it he is asking for donations on his personal blog site. To me that just doesn't add up me. He needs to step up and take responsibility as a man and a father and take care of his daughter. I think his time would be better spent trying to take care of his daughter and so the burden wasn't completely her mother that is raising her. I just think his priorities are just all in the wrong place. All these head lines need to read "DEAD BEAT DAD FLYS FLAG"

Posted by: toddhare11 | September 1, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Before we all go around supporting this guy and making him out to be a hero, let me tell you a little about the "TRUE" Andy McDonel. He is spending all this time and effort fighting over a flag on his house, he read and signed the bylaws from the CC&R's when he bought this house. I wish he would spend this type of effort on his daughter. The one that he has only seen 2 times since last December. Also the same one that he has not paid any child support for in almost a year. The New York Times says Andy is a a logistics operation manager, which is not true he is currently unemployed. Which brings the point if the ACLU is helping him out, why is it he is asking for donations on his personal blog site. To me that just doesn't add up me. He needs to step up and take responsibility as a man and a father and take care of his daughter. I think his time would be better spent trying to take care of his daughter and so the burden wasn't completely her mother that is raising her. I just think his priorities are just all in the wrong place. All these head lines need to read "DEAD BEAT DAD FLYS FLAG"

Posted by: toddhare11 | September 1, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Even rightwing know-nothings like Tea Stainers have rights. Just b/c this loser is a misguided redneck, and is unaware that the Tea Stain Party is not a grassroots organization at all, but a media propaganda machine funded by ultra-right billionaires, doesn't mean he hasn't the right to show off his ignorance to his neighbors. Then again, he is part of a community and as every Tea Stain Party minion who has his copy of Ayn Rand for Dummies knows, community equals communism.

Posted by: IckyMe | September 2, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Someone said that he could not install a satellite dish.

State and local governments cannot prevent you from installing one. Satellite dishes are regulated by the FCC and you have a right to install one.

Posted by: randyguthrie | September 3, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

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