Burning the New Jersey State Flag Because it was Lowered

John Burri, Father of Fallen Soldier, Burns NJ Flag to Protest Whitney Houston Tribute

I had mixed feelings when I read this article. Most of us associate lowering flags to half-mast with Memorial Day or mourning the loss of a President. And more recently on 9/11.

I thought, “I guess he could lower the flag of the state of New Jersey if he wants.” And the article said:

Federal law gives governors of American states power to have flags lowered for residents or state officials. There is no law requiring that person to have served in the armed forces.

The thing is, though, he also ordered the US flag to be lowered. Not cool according to the flag code:

7m…In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff…

I’ve read on some comment sections that he violated New Jersey Statues by lowering the state flag:

52:3-11. Flag at half-staff
The Governor shall, upon receiving timely notification and verification of the death of a New Jersey citizen who has been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by an act of the Congress of the United States, direct that the State flag at all public buildings throughout the State be flown at half-staff for a period of one week following the death of such a citizen.

I agreed with a poster who said that nowhere in there does it say that’s the only time he can fly it at half mast. So if he were to go by the rules, he shouldn’t have had the US flag lowered, but he probably could get away with lowering the New Jersey state flag.

Governor Christie felt Whitney Houston was a New Jersey native who should be remembered and mourned. I can totally see why people would be mad though, especially Mr Burris. Heroes and celebrities aren’t necessarily interchangeable. It’s especially difficult to swallow considering she died while battling her addiction to drugs and alcohol.

To his credit, Governor Christie has acknowledged many of his residents in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice. The most recent before Whitney Houston’s passing:

The flag of the United States of America and the flag of New Jersey shall be flown at half-staff at all State departments, offices, agencies, and instrumentalities during appropriate hours on Monday, January 30, 2012, in recognition and mourning of a brave and loyal American hero, United States Marine Corporal Kevin J. Reinhard…1/26/12

I am very sorry for Mr. Burris’ loss. He said,

“Sometimes, you have to do something drastic and extreme for people to listen. I just hope it made a point that maybe someone will pick this up and get a new law made for flag etiquette.”

Whatever comes of this, we heard him loud and clear.

What do you think?

31 responses to “Burning the New Jersey State Flag Because it was Lowered

  • lobotero

    This will take some thought and it is BC before coffee…..just off the top of my head I agree with the guy….a case could be made for both sides and it will depend on just which you want to be standing with…..as a vet who lost many friends the man’s point is valid.

  • Kini

    Well, having lived in New Jersey for over 20 years, before I escaped to Hawai’i, I’m glad someone spoke up and did something about this double standard. I’m sure I will be called a racist for this statement; but….

    If we as a “socialist society” :roll:, are to praise a washed up drug addict entertainer, that would have died from her excesses anyway, then we are truly on the same path of self-destruction as a cultural nation. I don’t care if you are black or white. Praising self-destructive behavior is not a role model for those wanting to be famous. Even in death, it sends a bad message to those that follow. OK, Let the hate comments begin…..

    • Spinny Liberal

      Aww no hate Kini. 🙂 And this has nothing to do with race. Before she became a self destructive addict, she shared her gift with the world. A lot of people loved her music. They’re praising that, not her downward spiral.

  • lbwoodgate

    Technically speaking, I side with the father of the slain son with this one.

    But unlike Kini, I wouldn’t support my position by saying derogatory things about a human being whose talents were greatly valued yet who failed to deal with her demons appropriately.

  • Ric

    Let’s be clear here. The flag wasn’t lowered to honor Houston’s drug addiction. It was lowered to honor her as a world-renowned artist from New Jersey who brought joy to millions of people through her singing.

    If you are going to complain that she was a drug addict and shouldn’t have been honored because of that, then let’s take a look at all the dead and honored service members who were addicted to drugs. Flags are lowered to honor the good that people have done, whether that be the sacrifices of a soldier or the contributions of an artist.

    That the standards are apparently fuzzy regarding civilians suggests that they need to be re-evaluated and clarified. Houston’s personal problems should no more be part of the equation than should the personal problems of a dead soldier.

    I believe it’s legitimate to honor the contributions made by people who have done great things during their lives, in any field. To limit token honors to the military suggests a distortion of ideals, especially in a country that has become all too militarized today.

  • aFrankAngle

    When I first heard the news about Gov Christie’s decision to lowered, I admit wincing a bit. But then I heard his explanation, and thought good enough for me. In that explanation, the governor explained that he has ordered lowering to half staff each time a soldier from NJ has fallen. Admirable indeed – but I’m not from NJ nor from an adjacent state … so I wondered, is this true?

    • Ric

      I don’t like Christie, but he has seemed to be always straightforward. I doubt that he would lie about something that can likely be easily checked. He’s not as dumb as some of his Republican colleagues.

      • Sedate Me

        “He’s not as dumb as some of his Republican colleagues.”

        Now THAT’s an accomplishment worth honouring!

        My dogs would make better legislators than most of today’s Republicans. I suspect one is a secret Republican. He’s learned how to say “no” and has been doing it nonstop for about 3 years. Come to think of it, he’s growled at Obama on the TV a couple of times.

        He better smarten up, or that little bastard is getting The Needle.

      • aFrankAngle

        Thanks for confirming … well, at least in the form of a hunch.

    • Spinny Liberal

      Yes, he has. Here is a list of his executive orders. They say the soldier’s name, branch of service, and rank.

  • dcmartin

    I think Ric’s comment was spot on.
    I am sorry for Mr. Burri’s loss, but a very good point was raised – Christie wasn’t honoring her drug addiction, he was honoring her accomplishments pre- druggie days, and while singing sweetly is not on par with dying in battle, not all fallen soldiers are great people in everyday life. There are drug addicts, wife abusers, child abusers, racists, misogynists and more mixed in with the “All American Hero” types we tend to want to see every soldier as. If Rush Limbaugh dropped dead tomorrow I bet there are a lot of the same people complaining about Whitney Houston who would INSIST on lowering the flags for him.
    I also think, that in a time when legislators are taking a jackhammer to women’s rights, denying gays their civil rights, and trying to craft their own brand of sharia laws, people who are freaking out about flags and dead celebrities really have their heads stuck up their asses.

  • Sedate Me

    Whitney Houston just died? I actually thought she died about 10 years ago, the last time I heard her name mentioned. Where the fuck was everybody’s concern when she could have used it? Some crackhead overdosed in my downtown last week. City Hall didn’t lower its flag and nobody gave a flying fuck. IT didn’t even make the newspaper. If anything, most people were secretly happy there’s one less crackhead on the street.

    Famous or not, lowering a flag to “honour” a cracked-up, washed-out, celebrity who spent most of her life destroying her life (career & talent) is just a really bad idea. Everybody is now supposed to mourn a woman who spent half her life volunteering as a punching bag for utterly worthless men and the other half snorting illegal shit? Great example. Great role model. But she’s famous, or was. Maybe the crackhead who died in my downtown could have put Whitney’s voice to shame and sold 10X the records, but just destroyed himself faster than she did, before getting famous. Thus, he is denied the chance at some postmortem love, or for that matter, pre-postmortem love .

    Boutros-Boutros Christie is just using a celebrity corpse to associate himself with some “Jersey Pride”. But most people, probably even much of New Jersey, had no clue she had any involvement with New Jersey whatsoever. I sure didn’t. Maybe if it was a guy like Springsteen, who’s very name conjures up New Jersey. This whole thing reeks of tacky desperation for attention.

    Or, maybe this is because Whitney Houston was on the radio when Christie lost his virginity in the back seat of the K-car he borrowed from his brother. I dunno, but it makes more sense.

    This just in: Texas legislature lowers the flag to mourn the passing of Anna Nicole Smith.

    • Ric

      “Christie lost his virginity in the back seat of the K-car he borrowed from his brother”

      Jeez, Sed, you really know how to implant disgusting images. I’m going to have soak my brain in disinfectant for days now.

      • Sedate Me

        Oh yeah? You want more??? You want more???

        Can’t you just imagine a young Christie, wearing a mullet, trying to wriggle his fat ass out of his acid washed jeans and making squeaking noises on the vinyl seat as he hurriedly works himself into position before the girl changes her mind?

        Meanwhile, his plastered date takes one last shot of liquid courage before laying back, consoling herself with Whitney’s painful howlings and trying to figure out how she’s ever going to live this down.

        23 seconds later…

        Do i hear an “Uncle!”?

      • Ric

        Sed, I’m sure that somewhere, somehow, from someone, you can get help. You shouldn’t have to live with such images oozing into your neurons.

        And may I add, “Ewwwwww!” A mullet? Double “Ewwwww”!

        I’m going to get some nice rum now to wash my brain.

    • Spinny Liberal

      Good God Sedate. She’s dead. Can we stop kicking her now?

      • Sedate Me

        Note: This is not an angry tirade, Spinny, just my usual bitter cynicism occasionally laced with black comedy.

        You’re right. Kicking her was Bobby Brown’s job. Punching her was Mike Tyson’s. Don’t know who her dealer was. Those are the people who mistreated her, not me. She’s dead and has no idea what I’m writing. I actually find Whitney’s life sadder than her death. Why should I cry now just because the ambulance-chasing media tells me I’m supposed to?

        I never liked her music. But despite abusing my eardrums, I wished her less ill than the people who claimed to love her. However, I’m far less broken up about her death than I was when the guy across the street from me died from a crack overdose. I barely ever spoke to him, but his adorable hound dog and I were pretty close.

        I have a real problem with how we treat celebrities like they are somehow worth more than anyone else because they can sing or recite lines somebody else wrote. To me, it’s a lot like the 1% issue. Just because they’re famous/rich doesn’t make them more valuable, or deserving of the money/attention.

        Sure, some celebs actually use their fame & fortune for good and deserve bonus points. http://makeitrightnola.org/ Some have impressive talents that make life less unbearable for the rest of us. But the reality is most are in it for the fame & fortune and nearly all are easily replaced cogs in the machine. For every Whitney, Mariah, etc, there are at least 20 LA waitresses just as talented who never got the chance. They get minimum wage, while those at the top live in mansions. The wage/attention disparity doesn’t reflect their actual value. (Shit, thanks to Auto-tune, singers don’t even have to be able to sing anymore.)

        But, like those corporate execs, society hoists a select few up on pedestals, showers them with more money than they deserve and pays them endless attention. Past a certain point, the attention actually causes harm. Countless celebs are chewed up, spit out, and forgotten until they die, at which point we’re expected to “mourn their tragic loss”, as if we never stopped caring.

        Besides, my attitude towards death is like this guy’s
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwDP872IE5k In this world, life is cheap and I don’t like people valuing some more than others just because they’re better known.

        Nothing personal Ms Houston.

      • Spinny Liberal

        No one’s telling you to cry or even feel bad. She succumbed to her addiction. And we all know the sordid details of her downward spiral.

  • beaglezmom

    I think this reflects our country’s struggle with celebrity and what it means to us as a culture and as a nation. Nationally we are like teenagers looking for heroes and picking the exact wrong boy/girl to lift up instead of seeing the people who really deserve our respect.

    I don’t think the drug issue is a part of this. I really don’t need to judge her anymore than it would be fair for someone to judge me.

    My uncle is a 2 tour Vietnam Vet Marine whose career ended when he was shot in the shoulder. He has spent the last 30 or so years as a member of a MC (motorcyle club) as a 1%er (i.e. outlaw biker). He’s done plenty of drugs, and other stuff. But when he dies they will fold up a flag and hand it to my aunt just like any other veteran – because there was a time when he served his country proudly..

    I think it’s possible that there was a time when Whitney Houston reflected her state proudly and they were proud to call her theirs.

    However, being a singer is NOT the same as being a soldier. And that’s the sad part – many times we are unable to tell the difference.

    • Spinny Liberal

      Great point – your uncle will be honored because there was a time when he served proudly. And AMEN to “being a singer is not the same as being a soldier.”

    • Sedate Me

      He has spent the last 30 or so years as a member of a MC (motorcyle club) as a 1%er (i.e. outlaw biker).

      Ah, when it comes down to it, both kinds of 1%-ers aren’t all that different.

      • beaglezmom

        Very True — only my Uncle and Aunt are a lot more honest and open about who they are and what they do. If I had to chose which 1%er raised me – I’d choose the MC every time.

  • TomDem

    We lowered it for Elvis, and in Jersey for Sinatra
    so what’s the prob?
    I get it that those and the Whitney lowering is a PR thing, but
    as Jefferson said it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg

    Yes I think it’s stupid to lower the flag for celeberties, it SHOULD be reserved for actual heros, I recall that we were reminded on 9/11 what and who REAL heros are..
    Formerly from Jersey, the homeland, land of Bruce Springsteen

  • Terrance H.

    I’m sick and tired of the public discussion centering around things like this for weeks and weeks. Since she died, that’s basically all that’s been discussed.

    Even in death we glorify the aristoi and continue to ignore the hoi polloi.

  • aFrankAngle

    Thanks Spinny for verifying and the link.

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