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The United Nations need not apply here

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© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001

If they ever thought about it, the folks at the United Nations would now have to scrap plans to move their worldwide headquarters to Hernando County.

The International Brotherhood of Persons With Too Much Time on Their Hands, an organization dedicated to making darn sure that nobody ever expresses anything with which its members disagree, has already objected to a business flying a Chinese flag at the Hernando County Airpark, apparently feeling that neither the flag, the Constitution nor any of that other commie nonsense has any place in the county.

The UN has 189 member nations, not all of whom have always had a pleasant relationship with the United States, and the protests against that many flags would severely deplete the county's available manpower -- leaving nobody to protest other local evils including homosexuality, Reebok sneakers, books designed not to bore school kids to death, and a distressing general tendency toward common sense.

Come on guys.

A flag is a flag is a flag. Whether you like it or not.

Whether and what kind of flag flies on a public building is a proper matter for public concern and governmental action. What kind of a flag flies at a private home or business is the business of the guy who owns the property and who owns the flag.

The business in question, PAR International, does business with both Taiwan and China and is flying the flags of both nations.

One protester says the Chinese aren't anything like us in religion or morals, and therefore their flag shouldn't be visible in Hernando County. The Chinese, who have heard of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Bill Clinton, might agree.

Actually, if either China or Taiwan knew that their flags were being displayed at the same location, they would probably be protesting. The don't get along, you know.

We, on the other hand, do get along with China, and approve of them famously as long as they have a lot of money to spend in mutual trade. Their occasional tendencies to force down U.S. aircraft in international airspace and jail or execute any of their citizens who disagree with official government policy are worrisome, but not when big bucks are involved.

We and China were allies in the only declared war in which we both participated and, despite their (and our, for that matter) interference in the Korean war, are now at peace and have ambassadors in each other's capitals.

Let's not forget that it was in Hernando County in the 1980s when students were ordered to cover up Reebok insignia on their T-shirts and sneakers because the logo included tiny British flags.

We were, after all, at war with the British only a couple of hundred years ago, which -- trust me -- is like yesterday in parts of Hernando County.

And Hernando residents are missing the fact that some Canadians there fly the Canadian flag at their homes. We have never been at war with Canada, although I have long thought we should be. They pose a constant threat, are closer to our northern borders than even Castro is to our southern boundaries, and are ever-ready to swamp us with good manners, toothless hockey players and colored money.

I understand that some people, especially Korean war vets, are touchy about the Chinese flag being displayed and find it repugnant. But those same veterans fought to protect and defend a Constitution that protects not just popular speech and expression but that which is unpopular as well.

Nobody is after the people who write Hallmark greeting cards, Walt Disney or other purveyors of the mainstream expression, and to make sure nobody ever is, we have to sometimes accept that people we don't agree with live under the same bill of rights as the rest of us.

We're in a state where we're running out of drinking water, our infrastructure is woefully behind in keeping up with uncontrolled growth, we're incapable of running a close election and where state legislators have turned conflict of interest into an art form.

But, if the current sense of priorities continues, I, as a journalist, at least look forward to the day the Hernando flag police go after bumper stickers, flags and state license plates that proclaim the virtues of Seminoles -- a nation with which we actually have been at war.

I can't wait.

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