Disregard of free expression

In Virginia, 90-year-old Medal of Honor recipient Col. Van T. Barfoot is being denied his right of free expression. Ridiculously so.

The decorated World War II veteran erected a flagpole on his front lawn in September, and has since devotedly raised the flag at sunrise and retired it at sunset.

His neighborhood homeowner association wants him to take the flagpole down because it doesn't conform with association rules of what can and cannot be displayed on individual properties. The flagpole doesn't fit the neighborhood's aesthetic guidelines.

Barfoot could, without interference from anyone, stand outside his home and burn the flag, but he can't proudly fly the flag.

The association is clear about its objection: "It's not about the American flag. This is about a flagpole," according to a statement issued by the association.

Barfoot would be permitted to hang the flag from a pole mounted on his porch, but he prefers the 21-foot flagpole in the center of his front lawn to bring prominence and attention to the flag he loves.

The neighborhood association established the flag guidelines, which means it has every authority to amend them. Barfoot is not asking a lot here. He's asking for a little respect to fly a flag he bravely defended overseas, and for which Americans later honored him with multiple medals and other decorations.

Barfoot has until Friday to remove the pole, or face a lawsuit.

While fighting in Italy, this man stood up to three German tanks with a bazooka and is credited with stopping the attack, and then helped two seriously wounded Americans to safety. And his neighbors now have the gall to force him to remove a flagpole?

This 90-year-old former soldier deserves better than that. Much better.

•  •  •

Yale University Press has published a book by Professor Jytte Klausen, titled "The Cartoons That Shook the World." Yale officials removed, according to the National Coalition Against Censorship, "every image of the prophet Mohammed cartoon from the book, against the author's wishes."

Klausen wrote about the 2005 violence that followed the Danish publication of the so-called Mohammed cartoon, a cartoon that was widely seen and still readily available online with just a couple of keystrokes.

In yanking the images, Yale officials explained there were generic fears of violence, despite not being able to point to a single actual threat of violence in making its decision.

This decision, by one of the country's most respected institutions, flies in the face of the threshold set by the U.S. Supreme Court for appropriate censorship: a clear and present danger of violence.

Without that, what Yale has done is simple kneel to terrorism home and abroad.

The First Amendment was enacted to protect us through free expression. Yale, an institution that has greatly benefited from First Amendment protections over time, has absolutely no justification for undermining that protection.

editorialboard@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Nowhere in the HOA covenant

Nowhere in the HOA covenant he signed was he prohibited from installing a flag pole. He submitted a formal request to the HOA board, and his request was denied, not because of "covenant restrictions", but for "asthetic" reasons.

I cannot speak for the Col., but from what I've read, he has always had a flag pole in every place he has lived since he retired from the service. It is something that is very important to him. If the covenant agreement had prohibited flag poles, he probably would not have signed it. Why don't you nay sayers do a little investigating before you pass judgement on someone?

John A. Chick

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (January 6, 1816)

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great post, John...my

Great post, John...my sentiments, precisely..

"There are only two things in life that matter, but I forget what they are". Alfred E. Neumann

 's picture

It is my understanding that

It is my understanding that the restriction was in the covenants when Col. Barfoot boutght the property. He asked the association for a variance and was denied. Then he chose to violate the rules. He could have petitioned the other homeowners to persuade the board or he could have displayed the flag from his porch. I applaud his service but it does not give him the right to ignore rules he agreed to follow. Also I do not like the restriction on flag poles but it is the HOA's right to make that decision, not mine or anyone else's.

 's picture

Being a vet and medal of

Being a vet and medal of honor recipient is beside the point. There is a homeowner's association contract he agreed to follow.
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"being a vet and medal of

"being a vet and medal of honor recipient is beside the point."
THAT IS THE POINT, LIL.....IT'S THE WHOLE POINT.

"There are only two things in life that matter, but I forget what they are". Alfred E. Neumann

 's picture

Being a Veteran of three

Being a Veteran of three wars and one of the oldest surviving MOH recipients IS the point.

As a medal of honor recipient, he is due the respect of every member of the armed forces, officers and enlisted alike. Even the highest ranking officers must render a salute to a MOH recipient, regardless of the recipients rank or duty status. The congressional medal of honor is protected by law. There are serious penalties, including prison, for it's misuse and/or disrespect.

The contract he signed said nothing about flag poles.

John A. Chick

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (January 6, 1816)

 's picture

I'll bet there's a clause in

I'll bet there's a clause in there that says he agreed to abide by the association's decisions.
______________________

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."
Franklin D. Roosevelt

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I'll bet the clause, if

I'll bet the clause, if there is one, doesn't mean squat. The association capitulated to the Colonel's request according to this morning's Journal. God Bless America.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot sez, "Damn the

The parrot sez, "Damn the torpedoes and screw the association."

 's picture

It is ironic that on a day

It is ironic that on a day (December 7th) that we remember the sacrifice of so many american service men and women, that a news article is published about a veteran under attack for flying the flag he fought under.

Even worse is that so many here think that he is in the wrong. How may of you guys have ever gone over the speed limit? How many of you have ever "fudged" your income tax forms? I have never met anyone who hasn't bent the rules at one time or another. That man has earned the right to fly the flag anywhere he wants, any way he wants to. He's not a criminal.

The 109th Congress submitted a bill to adress this very issue, and it was signed into law by the President of the United States on July 24th, 2006. What started as a story on the local news in a small Virginia town has blossomed into a nation wide issue. Only on the Sun Journal blogs does one see such anti-American anti-Veteran sentament.

John A. Chick

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (January 6, 1816)

 's picture

Thanks Old Bill, I'll second

Thanks Old Bill,

I'll second that.

John A. Chick

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (January 6, 1816)

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

The Yale situation is much

The Yale situation is much different. The story didn't state, but I'm assuming the University and the Author had a contract and it should govern this situation. I'd be amazed if the University isn't wrong.
Jon Albrecht Dixfield

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Mr. Barfoot's gallant

Mr. Barfoot's gallant service is not a factor here. Should we look the other way every time a veteran breaks a rule or a law simply because he was a veteran (truthfully we should make every accommodation possible to Mr. Barfoot). My understanding is that the Homeowners Association owns the land where Mr. Barfoot placed the flag pole. Its their decision to make and they have choosen not to accommodate him.
Jon Albrecht Dixfield

 's picture

Tron's right this time.

Tron's right this time. Nobody is denying him the right to fly a flag, only how it is flown. Co. Barfoot was given a copy of the subdivision rules before buying his house. He agreed to abide by those rules when he bought the house. If he didn't like those rules he could have bought a house somewhere else. If the association makes an exception to the rules for him, a precedent is set for anyone else who wished to erect a flag pole, no matter what flag they wish to fly. Col. Barfoot knew and agreed to follow the rules, then he chose to ignore them. This has nothing to do with his service in three wars. Nobody is downplaying his military accomplishments. This is about him breaking his word to follow the subdivision rules. The editor mentions that Col. Barfoot could burn a flag. People tend to ignore the fact that burning a flag is one of the rights he fought for, even though it's a right he would never choose to exercise.

 's picture

Tron , how dare you insist

Tron , how dare you insist on trying to turn this around and make Mr. Barfoot look like the bad guy here ??? Also , how does the neighborhood association have the audacity to tell him that he cannot have a 21 foot flagpole to begin with , whether it's a rule or not ??? This man should be praised and treated like the hero that he is and be allowed to show high , proud , and true of what he loves , and that would be the great flag of the United States of America ! But I suppose that a foolish neighbor rule will always overshadow any sacrifice that any great American has done in the past for this great country of ours ; Tron , you stated that it was majority rules like this is what he fought for ? I highly doubt it !!! Any veteran deserves a hell of a lot more respect than this !

 's picture

Col. Van T. Barfoot, Thank

Col. Van T. Barfoot,

Thank you for your service to your country, on behalf of a grateful nation and a fellow patriot.

John A. Chick

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (January 6, 1816)

Attention to orders

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 23 May 1944, near Carano, Italy. With his platoon heavily engaged during an assault against forces well entrenched on commanding ground, 2d Lt. Barfoot (then Tech. Sgt.) moved off alone upon the enemy left flank. He crawled to the proximity of 1 machinegun nest and made a direct hit on it with a hand grenade, killing 2 and wounding 3 Germans. He continued along the German defense line to another machinegun emplacement, and with his tommygun killed 2 and captured 3 soldiers. Members of another enemy machinegun crew then abandoned their position and gave themselves up to Sgt. Barfoot. Leaving the prisoners for his support squad to pick up, he proceeded to mop up positions in the immediate area, capturing more prisoners and bringing his total count to 17. Later that day, after he had reorganized his men and consolidated the newly captured ground, the enemy launched a fierce armored counterattack directly at his platoon positions. Securing a bazooka, Sgt. Barfoot took up an exposed position directly in front of 3 advancing Mark VI tanks. From a distance of 75 yards his first shot destroyed the track of the leading tank, effectively disabling it, while the other 2 changed direction toward the flank. As the crew of the disabled tank dismounted, Sgt. Barfoot killed 3 of them with his tommygun. He continued onward into enemy terrain and destroyed a recently abandoned German fieldpiece with a demolition charge placed in the breech. While returning to his platoon position, Sgt. Barfoot, though greatly fatigued by his Herculean efforts, assisted 2 of his seriously wounded men 1,700 yards to a position of safety. Sgt. Barfoot's extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You're in it now, T

You're in it now, T

 's picture

He fought for your freedom

He fought for your freedom you moron. Think about that every time you type a reply on this blog. You get to do that because of men and women like Col. Barfoot.

John A. Chick

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey (January 6, 1816)

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