The following portion of the United States Code looks to be very relevant for today;
4 U.S.C §8(i):
"The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard..."
Subsection (d) also has some important things to say, most notably that,
"The flag should never be used as wearing apparel..." (emphasis added).
Domestic protestors sometimes associate the flag with the Federal Government, burning the former to express displeasure with the latter. Other dissenters treat it with the utmost care and respect, waving it to show contrast - its symbolized noble democratic values against the government which has supposedly failed to achieve them. Military officers show the utmost respect towards the flag, and bestow upon it the honor of draping the coffins of those who have died in its name.
All of these uses credit the flag with an important symbolism which invokes a visceral emotional reaction. Those traditional uses of the flag have become the minority in recent years however, and the general respect and importance credited to the flag has been trampled upon by the masses.
No longer is a flag carefully hand woven and respectfully tailored, never touching the ground and burned with respect after years of flying. No, today the flag is cheap synthetic fabric tailored at the hands of foreign laborers and shipped overseas next to cheap plastic Happy Meal toys (if they're not one in the same in the first place). Flags and flag designs are second thoughts attached to t-shirts by thrifty merchants eager to capitalize on our patriotic fervor. Flags aren't raised by a white gloved clean shaven Marine at the break of dawn; today flags are hastily attached to lapels before press briefings to assure others of our dedication to the American cause. Flags are carefully attached automobile windows so they can valiantly flap down the interstate and proclaim upon our German-made, Saudi-powered cars our intense love of America.
Flags are paper plates, matching napkins, and silverware to balance our hot dogs on while we watch the fireworks. Flags are funnel cakes powered with sugar, Red #4, Blue #16, and scalped at $3.75 to a public eager to show its patriotism and fulfill its appetite in one fell swoop.
The flag is expressive of our citizens. It is a reflection of our values and morality. Perhaps now it reminds us of our vanity. Our willingness to overlook the fact that our patriotic purchases contributes to a very unpatriotic trade deficit in order to stay in the holiday spirit and show our American colors.
I long for the day when the flag is treated with the respect it deserves. I would rather see a hundred flags burn because they symbolize the American government or its democratic ideology than see a single paper plate flag rot in a waste bin never to have evoked a feeling in anyone.
Apparently Addien did a very similar node a while ago. I didn't see it until it was softlinked. Props should go to her for writing on this two years ago.