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International Charter of Flag Etiquette
According to Michelle Konieczny,
While I agree wholeheartedly with the second and third sentences, the first is bullshit. If you do a Google search on the phrase "International Charter of Flag Etiquette", all you ever find is a zillion copies of the article. There is no International Charter of Flag Etiquette; it's a fabrication. (However, I agree with the remainder of her article.)
Heraldically, the idea that flying a flag upside down as a sign of distress makes no sense at all. There are 43 flags which are the same when flown upside down:
There are 40 flags which at a distance look pretty much the same when flown upside down. On a foggy day on a tossing ocean, could you recognize these as right side up or up side down? (Three of them would also need a left-right flip as well as an upside-down flip to remain the same. Horizontal flips are not normally considered enough to differentiate a flag. The US Flag is still the US Flag when flipped horizontally. In fact, on the right side of airplanes, cars, and US soldiers, the flag is reversed from its normal aspect so that it flies in the proper direction for going forward.)
There are four flags which, when inverted, become the flags of other countries, and eighteen which are already the same as other countries' flags or, when inverted, become the flags of other countries.
While I don't dispute the rest of Konieczny's article, I want to point out that fabricating "facts" to bolster one's political opinions is not good debating form. There is no "International Charter of Flag Etiquette" and one cannot depend on any particular interpretation of hanging a flag upside down. It can be a distress signal, an insult, or a mistake.
Flag images source: WWWeb Factory International Flags.
Addendum, October 11, 2005
I published my article in August, 2005. Today Michelle Konieczny wrote me this rebuttal:
The United States has official rules for displaying the United States Flag. The International Code Flags or Signaling Flags are pennants flown either singly or in a series to represent letters, words, or messages. A Google search on "international code flag" yields about thirteen million pages. The first ten all show the same nautical signaling flags, but they don't mention any international rules against flying flags upside-down. No matter who invented it, I still believe that "International Charter of Flag Etiquette" is a fabrication.
I found several instances of Michelle Konieczny's article. I tried emailing Michelle and the republishers at various addresses, but aside from bounced emails, I never received any replies. Given how widely the article has been replicated, it is difficult to find an up-to-date address. Michelle correctly points out that she "can't change the original article, at least not on websites I have no editorial control over." Thus I publish this article in the hopes that anyone trying to research the "International Charter of Flag Etequette" will find it.
I did not rant. I used the word "bullshit" and rationally presented illustrations and links to support my case. If you have a link to a real and binding "International Charter of Flag Etequette", please send it to me and I will correct this article.
Just to be clear: I support Michelle Konieczny's article. She is entirely correct that our civil rights are being trampled and that we should display that distress by flying the US flag upside down.
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