Thursday, September 20, 2012 object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion

From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary comes this:

Definition of FETISH

a : an object (as a small stone carving of an animal) believed to have magical power to protect or aid its owner;broadly : a material object regarded with superstitious or extravagant trust or reverence
b : an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion :prepossession
c : an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression
: a rite or cult of fetish worshipers

Consider in particular definition 1b, please: "an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion".

America, or at least a certain segment of Americans have what can only be described as just such an irrational, obsessive devotion to an inanimate object, namely the American Flag. They insist that everyone must adhere to the particular meaning, significance and treatment of the flag that they do. They act as if they own the copyright to the flag and can dictate to others the manner in which it can be displayed, used or handled according to their subjective assessment of what is right and wrong. They are "offended" when someone appropriates the flag image or even pieces of it for a purpose they deem "incorrect" even though their rules are arbitrary and inconsistent.

Today, there was a lot of conservative feather ruffling about this image from the Obama campaign.

But how many times have you seen an image like this used in advertising or clothing actually worn on the beach or elsewhere? Why isn't this the object of conservative wrath?

It's stock material for Presidents' Day car dealer ads. And consider the New England Patriots players and cheerleaders uniforms.

And a host of other appropriated flag symbols...

America's pastime, no?

Commercial co-opting of the flag! Picket them!

This is the topper to me. Exactly what all the fuss is about with Obama "branding" the flag.

We're not only going to stuff this flag in the oven, we're going to EAT IT!

How many Katy Perry concerts were protested? Uh.. none?

Ironic since Lincoln was a Republican. :)

Wonder how many trucks you see this on that are festooned with other uber patriotic paraphernalia?

And finally, of course...

Looks like it's supposed to be the stripes on a waving flag to me. But of course, that's just my subjective opinion. Unfortunately, my subjective opinion is apparently not as official as others.

Here's the thing. Nobody owns the flag. Nobody gets to dictate what's an "appropriate" or "inappropriate" use for it. My idea of appropriate may be different from yours.  In light of all the interpretations and uses of the flag I've just shown that draw nary a raised eyebrow, it's clear the complaining is about who has done the interpreting, not the result.

If it were an orange, or a statue, a rock or a pair of pliers that people were so ritualistically treating, we'd suspect they were perhaps obsessive-compulsives. If it were a high-heeled shoe, a whip or a latex body suit, we'd call them kinky. But because the inanimate object of their fixation is the flag, we're supposed to defer respectfully to their arbitrary and lopsided subjectivity about who uses it and how.

It seems to me there are a lot of real, substantive issues to talk about in this campaign that are more weighty than a perceived slight to the hyper-sensitive flag lobby. I mean seriously, y'all, it's not like it's a video about Mohammed or anything.