Man Flies Nazi Flag; Says It’s Not Offensive Or Racist
In the image above, members of the 101st Airborne hold a captured Nazi flag. The photo was taken in 1944. The soldiers hold it with pride, as they fight against everything it stands for. This isn’t pride in the flag itself — it’s pride in having taken it down. In 2015, 70 years later, one hardly expects to see a similar flag flying in an American front yard. However, a very similar flag is indeed flying in one North Carolina man’s yard, and he’s spoken up to defend it.
John Brown has flown a Nazi flag outside his home for years, and after long controversy he’s taking it down. However, it isn’t because of the new attention that has been drawn to him, as Confederate flags go down across the nation. It’s because he says it’s worn out, and old. He’s ready for something new — a North Carolina flag, or an American flag, or perhaps even a pirate flag. He says that to him, the flag isn’t racist and has no negative connotations — he just likes flags.
It isn’t illegal to offend others. There isn’t any legal protection against being offended. Though Confederate flags on government property are coming down, no one is being force to remove flags from their own property. For the government to force a person to remove a flag — whether a Nazi flag, a Confederate flag, or any other — flown on their own property would be considered a violation of the First Amendment. (That doesn’t mean neighbors can’t request the flag’s removal, or that a Homeowner’s Association can’t forbid it, only that there can’t be a law abridging this free speech.)
Another example of this can be seen with another North Carolina man. According to WITN, Edward West, of Rocky Mount, flies around 150 Confederate flags in his yard. City officials have confirmed that, while potentially divisive and offensive, this is within his legal rights, and falls under free speech rights. This doesn’t mean that his neighbors can’t dislike it, or that they can’t say so.
In the case of the Nazi flag, flown by John Brown of King’s Mountain, the same rules apply. WCNC reports that Brown has been flying the flag for years — and neighbors have been complaining about it for jus as long. Before that, he flew a flag of Hitler’s SS. Though neighbors say that Brown spends a lot of time listening to German war-era music and watching military movies, Brown says the Nazi flag has no meaning — that he just likes flags.
A different flag fight in Kings Mountain. Man flies Nazi flag for years outside his house. pic.twitter.com/qEnDLXpxz2
— Tony Burbeck WCNC (@TonyWCNC) June 30, 2015
As far as the law is concerned, the Nazi flag is no different from the Confederate flag: both fall within the legal limits of free speech, but fre speech only protects from legal consequences, like arrest — not from being fired, or being mistrusted by neighbors, or called a racist.