At what point does government overstep its bounds and begin meddling too closely in the freedom of the American people?
That question has been at the heart of the left-right divide since the founding of our nation. And while that debate won’t be settled anytime soon, it’s safe to say that the line might be crossed when flying a large American flag is prohibited.
In Statesville, North Carolina, that’s exactly what the local government is trying to do. The city has filed a lawsuit intent on taking down a large U.S. flag from high atop a private business … and they’re demanding over $10,000 in fines at the same time.
— Record and Landmark (@statesville) October 1, 2018
“Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis is in a battle against city leaders over the huge American flag that flies high above his Gander RV business in Statesville, North Carolina, along Interstate 77,” TheBlaze reported on Tuesday.
“Lemonis, who’s best known for his CNBC television show, ‘The Profit,’ has refused to remove the 40-by-80 foot flag that the city said is too large and violates a city ordinance,” the outlet continued.
Does a city really need an ordinance specifying the size of American flag people can display? Lemonis certainly doesn’t think so, and he’s pushing back.
“There is no way that flag is coming down,” he tweeted on Saturday.
Statements from Camping World and its CEO make it clear that the issue is about much more than petty squabbling with the city.
“This is about our Veterans, Military, and the men and women that have sacrificed for this great country. They are the reason we fly the flag and they are the reason we will NOT take it down!” a Camping World Facebook post declared over the weekend.
What’s even more interesting is that Lemonis wasn’t born in the United States. He’s actually from Lebanon, but came to America after being adopted in the mid 1970s.
“My family has been car dealers, had been car dealers since the 1960s, and our key trademark was always flying our flag in our dealership in south Florida,” he told WSOC-TV.
“My family is largely immigrants of the country.”
For their part, the city keeps pointing to a local regulation that limits flags near a highway to 25 by 40 feet. Statesville also says that Gander RV applied for a permit to fly a flag that met those criteria, but then put a larger one up instead.
According to the complaint, the city had also issued Camping World a citation for violation of the ordinance on Oct. 15, 2018, saying that there would be a fine and that the company had received both written and oral warnings about the matter in the past.
Paying the fines and switching to a smaller flag might settle the issue.
But Lemonis and his company aren’t relenting. Instead, they’ve turned to social media and online petitions to show the city council just how much support there is for the massive flag.
A Change.org petition in favor of the American flag has received over 155,000 online signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. Statesville’s population, in contrast, is just over 26,000.
“It comes down, in my opinion, to bureaucrats trying to control the size of something,” Lemonis told WJZY. “The property that’s there belong to us, we pay taxes and the size of the flag isn’t hurting anybody.”
He has a good point. There are certainly important things for a city government to do, but fining people over an American flag doesn’t seem like one of them.
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