Sunday, December 14, 2008



Old Glory: You're free to burn it but not free to display it at work



Something sure smells rotten there. Do only Leftists have rights? And guess which side the ACLU is on?
"Ralph Silvestro, a legal clerk who works at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, never imagined that anyone would have a beef over the American flag he had taped to the side of his work computer. After all, he works in a courthouse.

No one complained about the flags, Silvestro said. Then on Sept. 23, Silvestro got an e-mail from his supervisor: "Keith has advised me as your supervisor, that the flags must come down. They are not appropriate for the workplace," the e-mail said. The "Keith" mentioned in the e-mail was Keith Smith, the new director of Active Criminal Records....

When asked if Smith had violated Silvestro's constitutional rights, perhaps infringing on his freedom of expression, a civil-rights lawyer said: "No." "Here's the thing: Your boss rules your life," said Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania's Philadelphia office. "Your employer gets to make the rules."

Source

If burning the flag is protected freedom of expression, displaying it should be too. And the first amendment DOES apply because the guy was working in a government office. The story might have been different in a private business. If the ACLU were really in favor of free speech they would have defended this guy and had good prospects of success in court.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're not free to burn the flag at work if your boss doesn't let you.
It's his building, his business, you're his guest there as well as his employee, and because of both he can determine what you can and cannot do there.

People trying to control their employees' actions outside the work environment are a different story, and are usually illegal (I would make an exception for expression that harms the company directly, like wearing company clothing while doing something destructive), but this is not such a case.

Of course the law here might be different as this is a government agency, but I doubt it.

So however idiotic the ban on flags is that this guy has to deal with, I don't see how it would be illegal, let alone unconstitutional.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

But Keith is not the employer, the state is. The state is part of the United States. If this courthouse wishes to exclude the American flag, perhaps the courthouse and the state can do without any federal funding as well since they wish to distance themselves from it.

Anonymous said...

That doesn't matter. Keith is acting as the representative of the employer, just as a CEO is acting as a representative of the shareholders when he acts for the company he shares.

So the man can speak for the government body that employs him in that function unless and until the controller of that body tell him differently.
I'd be surprised if in this that wouldn't happen (though you never know these days), but if his powers include the power to determine what employees can use to decorate their desks/workplaces he was acting within the authority granted him, however stupid and anti-American the decision was.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Ralph, Keith, and this other supervisor ALL work for the state. It's a "government" office, and as such, all the constitutional protections apply. They had no legal right to tell him to remove his country's flag. And since it is a govt. office, was that the only flag on the property, including that big one out in front of the building? You can bet it's not!

I smell a liberal, gay activist behind this move, which would explain why the Anti-American Civil Liberties Union wants no part of it. Of course, if it were a muslim flag, or the solid-red flag of Marxism, they'd be all over this case!

Anonymous said...

They had no legal right to tell him to remove his country's flag.

They had every right to have him remove the flags.

The supervisor came through and either implimented or enforced a policy where no flags or decorations were to be placed on the state's computers. The policy was consitant and applied equally.

For those screaming that this a violation of the First Amendment, you and Ralph Silvestro are not arguing that the government does not have the right to restrict things on their computers, but whether they have the right to restrict a specific flag. In other words, you want the government to be restricted based on the CONTENT of the expression, and not the broader, and not the expression itself. If the superisor allowed some flags and not others, there would be an issue. As he did not, this is quite legal.

And since it is a govt. office, was that the only flag on the property, including that big one out in front of the building? You can bet it's not!

Of course, that has nothing to do with this issue, but it is a nice red herring.

Like it or not, even the government has the right to set standards of professionalism and appearance within the workplace. They also have the right to tell an employee not to deface or decorate property that is not theirs.

Anonymous said...

If it was a flag from some fucking cockroach pig islamic nation there would have been no problem, but omg, better not have an AMERICAN flag in an AMERICAN buisness.

Anonymous said...

Well, as long as they don't mess with my Gay Pride flag.

Mobius

Anonymous said...

"The supervisor came through and either implimented or enforced a policy where no flags or decorations were to be placed on the state's computers. The policy was consitant and applied equally."

What about a Post-It? Is that a decoration? How about a family picture? And the supervisor "can not" impliment policy on government property. Those policies are set by laws.

Anonymous said...

What about a Post-It? Is that a decoration?

If the supervisor says that no post it notes are allowed on computers, they have that right.

How about a family picture?

Hate to break this to you, but this is long established law. The supervisor has the right - even in a governmental building - to set forth the standards for decorum and appearance of the area.

Restricting post it notes, pictures, etc does not infringe on any recognized right.

And the supervisor "can not" impliment policy on government property. Those policies are set by laws.

Agreed. The law says the supervisor can set the policy.

Under your mistaken perception, Ralph Silvestro could launch into a profanity laden diatribe against a customer, and the supervisor could not do anything because the diatribe would be "protected freedom of expression." You would also have to allow pictures of naked men and women on the computers, as that would be "free speach." A 63 year old worker could wear a thong and nothing else in the office as "freedom of expression." Heck, they wouldn't even have to wear anything under your understanding of the "law." In fact, the governmental supervisor couldn't require a worker to wear safety equipment, or wear a police uniform a certain way because that would be "freedom of expression." But go ahead and try this experiment....the next time you go to court for something, start cursing at the judge. Exercise your "freedom of speech" there.

See ya when you get out of jail.

Anonymous said...

I'd bet quite a bit of money that the supervisor didn't state the specific policy that he used in his decision to remove the flag.

Because there is no company policy specifically against the american flag and no moron in their right mind would implement it because they HAVE NO GOOD REASON.

What he DID do was take a vague policy stating office decorum and used it enforce his anti-american sentiment. I always find it ironic when people continually bite the hand that feeds them.

To the idiot Anomymous defending this... using the law to defend a wrong is lower than low. A devil's advocate is just that...

Anonymous said...

What he DID do was take a vague policy stating office decorum and used it enforce his anti-american sentiment. I always find it ironic when people continually bite the hand that feeds them.

As you have no evidence of this, your assertion is just a wild assumption. (And you know what happens when you assume) Even so, if the policy was about things attached to the computer, he was right to remove the items attached to the computer.

It amazes me that what you are calling for is contrary to the First Amendment and established law. You want him to keep the US Flag attached to his computer but even he agrees that the pirate flag neede to come down. That means that you and he both want to have the restriction set aside based on CONTENT. It is governmental restrictions on content that are always contrary to the First Amendment.

To the idiot Anomymous defending this... using the law to defend a wrong is lower than low. A devil's advocate is just that...

So wait a sec..... you want the governmental office to go against the law? Is that your position?

The fact of the matter is that the removal of the articles was within the scope of established laws of the US. You may not like it, but we are a nation of laws, not men.

Anonymous said...

It makes no difference anyway. The idiot barry hussien hates America anyway, so all American flags will be banned under the 4th reich of obama.