CHRIS POWELL: Suffield skips the 'flag wars;' what's the pride of sex?

Published on Thursday, 8 July 2021 13:36

Suffield has opted out of what First Selectwoman Melissa Mack calls the "flag wars," which are being fought over attempts to use government flagpoles for proselytizing or propaganda by non-government groups.

The town's Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 last month to reserve town government flagpoles for government's own flags, denying a request to fly the "rainbow" or "pride" flag celebrating sexual minorities. The board felt that everyone is welcome in Suffield but realized that flying non-government flags would require the board to endorse or reject particular groups, to play favorites, and thus risk unnecessary controversy.

Of course the meaning of non-government flags isn't always clear.

Does the "pride" flag mean only "live and let live," or does it also mean that men who identify as women should be able to use women's rest rooms and participate in women's athletic competitions?

Does the Black Lives Matter flag mean equal rights and respect for Black people, or does it also mean "defunding" or even eliminating the police?

Does the peace sign flag mean ending stupid imperial wars, or does it mean unilateral disarmament as well?

Of course the country could argue forever about the positions expressed or implied by such flags. Better to reserve government flagpoles for flags that represent a whole town, a whole state, or the whole country, and let the interest groups proselytize and propagandize elsewhere.

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FALSE PRIDE: While people should not have to conceal their sexual orientation, and while the law long has conferred sexual freedom on everyone, it is a little strange that sexual orientation should be claimed as a source of "pride." Something that, like sexual orientation, is natural and inherent or a mere personal preference is hardly earned or an achievement. While even now acknowledging one's sexual orientation may take some courage, if not as much in Connecticut and other socially liberal states anymore, courage and pride are different things.

Dictionaries define pride as "inordinate self-esteem." Informally the word is often used just to signify something that people are glad about or satisfied with, but in biblical terms pride is plainly to be avoided, since Proverbs says it "goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

Given the disparagement and persecution suffered by sexual minorities in the past, it may be understandable for some of them now to want to strut or thumb their nose in society's face, though society hardly cares about people's sex lives, except for celebrities.

Since most people today have bigger concerns, the more they hear about "pride" in sexual orientation, the more they may be reminded that what was, in the last century, "the love that dares not speak its name," cannot, in this century, shut up.

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COLLEGE POLITICS: Manchester Community College is producing trivial infighting worthy of the snootiest Ivy League university.

Last month the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system was about to fire MCC's chief executive in secret, without giving a reason. So she hired lawyers to go public with objections and mobilized her supporters to praise her, whereupon the firing was stalled. Even so, the college system's spokeswoman refused to explain what was going on, saying it was a "personnel matter" -- the stupidest non-sequitur in government, since nearly everything in government is a personnel matter and no law forbids explaining. The "personnel matter" dodge is a proclamation of unaccountability.

Then the college system issued a report saying MCC is wracked by racial tension. But the report could cite little more than supposed "microaggressions" against minority employees and the open questioning by colleagues of the credentials of two Black women being promoted. So even in this age of "affirmative action" -- racial preferences that inevitably impugn hiring and promotions -- questioning the credentials of Black government employees is apparently unconstitutional, or at least a hate crime.

It all evokes the wry reflection by the Pulitizer Prize-winning historian, author, and Trinity College English professor Odell Shepard, who served a term as Connecticut's lieutenant governor in the 1940s. Shepard said he had seen politics at the state Capitol and politics in the academy, and politics in the academy was far more cutthroat.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Thursday, 8 July 2021 13:36. Updated: Thursday, 8 July 2021 13:39.