Sunday, June 16, 2013

Away Game Stats

Phil Bowermaster takes a good look at the flag as table cloth spectacle in HGTV's recent "unforced error".  I particularly like his assertion that "... concerns about flag desecration are just a highly specialized instance of political correctness" and a version of hate speech laws, which led me to opine:
I think this entire controversy can be summed up as, “How much should we regard the flag used in the HGTV presentation as a re-iteration of THE Star Spangled Banner?”
Leaving aside the whole just how large of a table are we talking here question, I think it an honest statement that Americans generally regard our national icons as possessing unique and, if not precisely sacred then at least desirable and due-of-respect, patriotic qualities. The question would seem to come down to, how far does such expression of respect extend?
If HGTV had made it explicit that the table setting was “… a piece of cloth with [flag-like] colors on it”, there wouldn’t have been anything like the response received. Far too many Americans have had family members buried beneath just such a re-iteration of a cloth with colors on it for such a casual display to be anything other than profoundly insulting to the memory of their honored dead.
At the very least, HGTV should have been aware of, and taken pains not to offend, such wide-spread and deeply felt sensibilities. As too should the commenters making light of the offense being expressed.
As if …
The Smithsonian link is an interesting source of trivia on a whole host of fronts, but what it also explicitly makes plain is that The Star Spangled Banner wasn’t always a national treasure and icon and that the progression of events that lead to it becoming so was and remains a process we Americans continue to develop. HGTV just happened to wallow all around in that process and now probably wishes it could wipe it back off again.
Cable bundling will no doubt save them, but I bet a whole bunch of network execs are calling into question the thesis all publicity is good publicity right about now. :)
 In an effort at full disclosure and all that, HGTV has announced:
"This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened,” HGTV said in a statement late Wednesday. “We sincerely apologize and have removed the post from our website. We want to assure our fans that HGTV is proud of the American flag and everything it symbolizes for our people.”
All of which pretty much only makes the whole thing worse.

I'm sure they do regret it, if only for the reasons I point out above.  Just as a quick strategic aside, when you puke on your plate in public like this, don't sweep it off the table, cover it decently with a transparent effort to make amends by pointing out something like the Smithsonian website I did and make a teachable moment of your apology.  Thank your audience for their assistance in expanding your base of knowledge and encourage them to do so when you inevitably prove your humanity (which is "to err") yet again on some future occasion.

Not bury it away from plain view and hide behind the sack cloth (which is colored how?).

Finally, and on a much more important note; Happy Birthday, Dad.  Our shared uncertainty about the impact of humanities carbon footprint on the world around us notwithstanding, asking anybody to blow out 80 candles all in one go still seems a bit much, so this instead.

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