At first glance, it seems like another silly celebrity dust-up. Kaley Cuoco posted a photo on her Instagram of her dogs perched on an American flag. People went crazy. She took it down and apologized. Case closed, right?
Well, yes and no. The Big Bang Theory star has made it pretty clear she's a proud American and didn't mean to disrespect our country's flag — or her legion of fans — with her photo.
Note that this is a screengrab, as the actual photo was removed by Cuoco. As she said in a follow-up post, "Yesterday I made a mistake by posting the picture that was taken of my sweet dogs posing on an American flag. I sincerely apologize to anyone that has been offended by my previous post. This is no way reflects my feelings toward what the American flag represents."
We all make mistakes, and she's been a class act about owning up to hers. On Cuoco's side, let's call this "problem" solved. But let's talk about all the hate and anger she's been dealing with for a minute. Apparently people have forgotten that whole "he who is without sin cast the first stone" business.
Cuoco is far from the first American to walk into a flag faux pas.
It seems every year the internet gets its panties in a bunch over something like this, and we're just talking about the cases that go viral. With the patriotic holidays that star-spangle our summer, you can easily spot dozens of cases of Old Glory being treated poorly on your own social media feeds, typically by unwitting Americans who just don't know any better.
The sad fact is, most Americans have no idea what you're supposed to do with the American flag beyond staring in its general direction, hand over heart, when The Star-Spangled Banner plays. It's hardly surprising when you consider that 22 percent of Americans know all five members of the family in The Simpsons, while just 1 in 1,000 can name all five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment (those would be freedom of the press, speech, religion, assembly and petition of grievances, by the way). Or the fact that — two years into the Obama administration back in 2011 — 29 percent of Americans couldn't name Joe Biden when asked if they knew who the vice president of the United States was.
Americans love to squawk about living in the greatest country on Earth, but we're wildly ignorant about some pretty basic American facts... and that includes what the rules are regarding our national symbol.
So before you point fingers at Cuoco and rail against her, let's take a pop quiz. How many of these rules, straight out of the U.S. Code, do you follow to the letter?
1. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
2. The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
3. The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
4. The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument.
5. The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.
6. The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
7. The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.
8. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
That's a lot to pack in, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. Code has 10 sections relating to the flag, each with subsections like those seen above. And mistakes are made — constantly.
Kaley Cuoco screwed up, but she's vowed to do a little better by our national symbol moving forward. How about you?
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