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HGTV has a star-spangled tablecloth problem
As conservative critics of the network's flag-as-decor suggestion note, "No one dies for a table cloth"
Don't spill on Old Glory!
Don't spill on Old Glory! Thinkstock/iStockphoto
H

ome & Garden Television is busy preparing viewers for the Fourth of July. And one of its ideas is downright unpatriotic, says Todd Starnes at Fox News. In a segment called "Classic Fourth of July Table Setting Ideas," HGTV offered this proposition:

This didn't sit well with many HGTV viewers, who took to the network's Facebook page to denounce the idea as "offensive, un-American and an insult to the American military," Starnes says. One example:

Using an American flag as a tablecloth dishonors all Americans who love Old Glory — especially those who gave their lives defending it. No one dies for a tablecloth.

Joe March, a spokesman for the American Legion, tells Fox News using an American flag as an "unconventional table linen," as HGTV deems it, violates the U.S. Flag Code: "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or, merchandise."

Old Glory can be draped over a coffin, but certainly not a table, March tells Fox News: "The flag of the United States is designed to be flown and respected as the symbol of our country.... That very same flag is used to cover the caskets of our soldiers, sailors and Marines who have been killed in battle. You would not obviously want to take that and use that as a tablecloth." There is no punishment for violating the Flag Code, March notes — the Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that desecrating the flag is protected by the First Amendment.

But that doesn't make it a good idea. On Wednesday afternoon, HGTV issued an apology on its Facebook page. "This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened," the network said. "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."

Too little, too late, says Jim Treacher at The Daily Caller. Using the flag as a table cloth is "just revolting." And if you don't agree, he adds, "if you think it's just a piece of cloth, then you've never served our country, you don't know anybody who's ever served, and/or you just don't like America very much."

But if HGTV stepped way over the line with this flag table cloth idea, "then a lot of folks are also way over the line," says Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog. Pottery Barn and Kohls sell American flag tablecloths, and patriotic bar owners, campers, and military families drape real flags over their tables.

Are people violating the rules for proper display of the American flag when they put it on a table? Maybe they are, and maybe that offends a lot of people who love the flag and the country — but it sure looks as if the violators love the flag and the country, too. And the companies that recommend this are also suggesting it as a way of showing patriots. So chill the hell out, please. [Mister Nice Blog]

If you want to show your patriotism in your living room or kitchen, there's a difference between using a real flag and a replica, says Matthew Sheffield at NewsBusters. "Instead of recommending the use of a flag as a tablecloth, HGTV ought to have directed viewers to one of the many flag-inspired tablecloths that are for sale in many stores and on the internet."

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

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