A divided Statesville City Council displayed some welcome political courage June 17 by standing up to Camping World CEO (and reality TV personality) Marcus Lemonis in an ongoing dispute over the size of an American flag flying at his dealership along Interstate 77.
After flouting the city’s flag-size restrictions by displaying a 40-by-80-foot version of Old Glory, Lemonis (presumably with full knowledge of his deception) carried out a misleading social-media broadside against the city by making it appear he was being told that he couldn’t fly ANY American flag on his Statesville property.
The subsequent nationwide indignation from self-professed patriots with no clue about the real issues surrounding the ordinance was predictable, powerful and, in many cases, pathetic. After all, the city enacted its highway-corridor flag restrictions after the Sons of Confederate Veterans vowed to erect oversized rebel flags along every interstate highway, in every county in North Carolina.
A 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling prevents local governments from differentiating between non-commercial flags based on their content, so limiting the size (other than banning flags altogether) was the only way for the city to at least have some control over Confederate banners or others erected within its jurisdiction along I-77 or I-40.
Our suggestion for the city? Ahead of Independence Day, blanket Statesville with as many American flags (preferably of legal size) as you can find, then give critics who suggest you’re anti-flag the appropriate form of salute.
– John Deem