It’s nice to see that the people over at Fox News haven’t lost their touch for spin. Like other news outlets, they have a knack for wording the title of an article to place a person in a certain frame of mind, ready to form an opinion even before reading the entire article, parsing and analysing the details and making an informed judgement.
Earlier this evening, one of the headlines on the Fox News website read, “Maryland State Workers Say U.S. Flag Violates Law.” Clicking on the link takes the reader to a Fox News and Commentary article by Todd Starnes, entitled “State Says American Flag Violates Law.” The story details the removal of a U.S. flag by state highway workers, that was placed in the middle of a traffic circle by Woodbine, MD resident Rhonda Winkler and her family. As Winkler states in the article, the flag was placed there to honor the brave men and women that are safeguarding our liberties at home and overseas, in particular her nephew, a servicemember being deployed to Afghanistan at the time of the flag’s installation three years ago. In the intervening time between then and now, a vehicle ran over the original flag, and another one was raised in its place by Mr. Winkler, accompanied by World War II veteran Jack Baker.
According to the article, Winkler received a call informing her that state highway workers had taken down the flag and flagople, and thrown them both into the back of a dump truck. When contacted for comment on the matter, state highway department spokesperson David Buck said that the flag should not have been placed in that location due to safety concerns, stating to a local newspaper that “They don’t have traffic control out there, and they don’t have (road work) vests on.” Likewise, when the Winklers inquired as to the reason for the flag’s removal, Rhonda Winkler relates that “They told us it was against the law to erect a flag on the traffic circle…they told my husband that whoever put up the flag could be arrested for trespassing.”(1)
The “spin” in this instance was in Fox News erroneously stating that the highway department was claiming that the flag itself was a violation of the law. That my fine young readers, is a flat-out lie. It was the unauthorised placement of the flag on state property that was in fact against the law, and I wholeheartedly agree with the state highway department in that respect.
What I don’t agree with, and actually find unconscionable are the way in which Old Glory was handled by the highway workers, (being simply tossed into the back of a dump truck, like so much trash on collection day) and the fact that they refuse to return the flag to the Winklers. These are public employees, whose wages are paid with our tax dollars. (Actually, the tax dollars of the good people of Maryland.) It is by means of the government that they get paid. In essence, by treating our nation’s flag so disrespectfully, and as a result angering the very people who they serve, they’re biting the hands that are feeding them!
I would urge everyone who cares about this issue to e-mail, write and / or call the Maryland State Highway Administration, and tell Mr. David Buck to respectfully return the Winklers’ flag to them. (I don’t usually do this, but I am including the contact info below, as it is a public entity and the information is a matter of public record.) While we’re at it, we might also want to tell Fox News to stop lying to us. (Or at least, try putting less spin on article titles, so they more accurately reflect the facts!)
Maryland State Highway Administration
707 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, MD 21202