Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Federal Judge Tosses Lexington Flag Lawsuit

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on June 14, 2012

Via Kevin, the U.S District Court has granted the City of Lexington’s motion to dismiss the SCV’s lawsuit against the city. Rob Baker points to Judge Samuel Wilson’s ruling:

The Constitution does not compel a municipality to provide its citizens a bully pulpit, but rather requires it to refrain from using its own position of authority to infringe free speech.
 
Second, there are highly compelling practical reasons for a city to close its flag poles to private expression. The city that cracks the door to private expression on flag poles practically invites litigation from other groups whose messages it would rather not hoist above the city. Related to that point, private expression might eventually so dominate city flag poles as to swallow whole the flag poles’ actual, official purposes.
 
Third, and finally, the ordinance in this case leaves ample opportunity for SCV and every other group to display the flags of their choice. That is true by the ordinance’s own terms: “Nothing set forth herein is intended in any way to prohibit or curtail individuals from carrying flags in public and/or displaying them on private property.” § 420-205(C)(2). SCV and other groups may therefore carry their flags in parades, fly them from the flag poles at their local offices, or wave them while walking to the grocery store. As such, the ordinance is perfectly reasonable.
 
Because reasonable, nondiscriminatory, content-neutral rules regulating speech in nonpublic fora pass First Amendment constitutional muster regardless of motive, the court will grant the City’s motion to dismiss.

Grafs are added for clarity. And then there’s this:

No court has found that the Constitution compels the government to allow private-party access to government flag poles.

I seem to recall someone saying at the time that the Lexington “ordinance is air tight.” That person was right.

The local SCV, led by Brandon Dorsey, isn’t happy:

As far as I am concerned, this is little different that some states shutting down all their public schools to avoid desegregation and then claiming their motivation for closing them is of no concern because they screwed over everyone.

Of all the possible analogies, Mr. Dorsey, you had to go with that one, didn’t you? It must be hard, getting H. K. Edgerton and Ruby Bridges mixed up like that. Because they’re so much alike, or something. But do try harder next time, please.

Update, June 16: Dorsey’s analogy, comparing the Virginia SCV’s situation to that of African Americans in the Jim Crow South, doesn’t appear to be an off-the-cuff comment; it’s a conscious public relations strategy. Yesterday they vowed to appeal Judge Wilson’s dismissal, and made the same analogy:

In its written statement, Sons of Confederate Veterans maintained that Wilson’s ruling would allow governments to deny everyone access to public places in its effort to silence the groups with whom it disagrees.

“That logic would legitimize many of the wrongs committed by state and local governments during the Civil Rights era,” the statement read.

“In its written statement. . . .”

Many of us have made the point that, in its public actions and rhetoric, the Southron Heritage™ movement is preaching to the choir; they’re doing and saying things calculated to appeal to fellow true believers, going out of their way to prove they’re more unreconstructed than the next guy. As for winning new supporters to their cause, or shaping broader public opinion, it’s a terrible strategy that only distances them farther from mainstream views and attitudes.

This analogy by Dorsey and his fellows doesn’t help their cause; it actively harms it. Anyone who actually remembers the Civil Rights Movement, or who’s studied it since, will be repulsed by such a comparison, and rightly so. It’s an odious analogy, one that should cost them any benefit of the doubt that the public might be willing to entertain about their motivations and supposed good faith. Kevin is right again: “they deserve everything they get.”

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5 Responses

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  1. Rob Baker said, on June 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Nice. I read Dorsey’s comments a little while. Interesting character to say the least.

    • Andy Hall said, on June 14, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      It’s a reprehensible comment. His first, instinctive reaction is to analogize the SCV to generations of African American children in the South who grew up under Jim Crow-era segregation. Because. . . because. . . because the city won’t let them fly a Confederate flag from goddamned city light poles. Why, it’s exactly the same thing, don’t you see?

      The True Southrons insist, like Stephen Colbert’s “colorblind” shtick, that race plays no part in their worldview. And yet, it’s always there, popping up to the surface at the slightest provocation, with themselves as the victims. They can’t help themselves. Fish gotta swim.

  2. Margaret D. Blough said, on June 15, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Of course it misses the fact, in Prince Edward County VA that segregated “private academies” available to educate white kids. These white academies were run by the Prince Edward School Foundation which received state support. For four years, black children were deprived of an education. Tuition grants from the county and state and tax breaks from the county helped support the white schools (the only way black children could have received these grants is if blacks had agreed to set up a blacks-only private academy, effectively abandoning the civil rights case against the city and state). The history of the case was complex (Prince Edward County was one of the original defendants in the group of cases known under the title of Brown v. Board of Education (which got the honor by alphabetical order) so, if anyone is interested, the Supreme Court decision in Griffin v. School Board of Prince Edward County et al 377 US 218 (1964) is at http://laws.findlaw.com/us/377/218.html.

    It is truly incredible, as Andy points out, this sense of victimization and self-pity. It’s even more insane that it comes from those who liken their situation to the victims of centuries of oppression by their revered ancestors.

  3. Foxessa said, on June 17, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    The rate at which funding for public education are being funneled to private schools has increased hugely in the last decade as well. There are so many scams programs in place that help money go from public schools to religious schools in particular, via ‘scholarship’ placement. This may not seem at first to have much or anything to do with legal battles in communities over public display of the flag of the former CSA, but the arguments’ rhetorics have a great deal in common.

    • Andy Hall said, on June 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Here in Texas, the mantra is “charter schools,” which are essentially private schools receiving direct and complete support directly from the state — none of this one-step-removed foolishness about “vouchers.”

      There are a few charter schools that seem to be big successes and have very good reputations, KIPP among them. But there are plenty of examples of charter schools that, while well-intentioned, are absolutely incompetent, and others that are as corrupt as any you’ll find anywhere. The vast majority are somewhere in between, just like — wait for it — your average public school. I have yet to see any comprehensive study that shows charters in Texas, on average, do significantly better than public schools in educating young people, on average. As a whole they seem to be resoundingly mediocre.


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