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Man Told To Remove U.S. Flag From Desk

By Wyatt Earp | December 11, 2008

<i>Ralph Silvestro: Victim of Inanity</i>

Ralph Silvestro: Victim of Insanity

I mean, because the American flag is highly offensive to Americans! Break out the duct tape, kids, my city is about to embarrass itself yet again.

Ralph Silvestro, a legal clerk who works at the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, never imagined that anyone would have a beef over the American flag he had taped to the side of his work computer.

After all, he works in a courthouse.

To Silvestro, who served in the Navy for six years and in the Air Force Reserve for another six, the miniature American flag affixed to his computer was a symbol of his patriotism, he said.

For months, that flag and another one that Silvestro had taped to his computer – a black “pirate” flag with skull and crossbones – greeted a steady stream of folks, mostly lawyers, who lined up daily at the front counter of the court’s Active Criminal Records department to file motions that Silvestro processed.

No one complained about the flags, Silvestro said. Then on Sept. 23, Silvestro got an e-mail from his supervisor:

“Keith has advised me as your supervisor, that the flags must come down. They are not appropriate for the workplace,” the e-mail said.

The “Keith” mentioned in the e-mail was Keith Smith, the new director of Active Criminal Records.

Silvestro, 34, said he could understand why Smith didn’t want him to display a pirate flag – a symbol of thievery on the high seas – in a criminal courthouse. The flag was a gift from a co-worker who had bought it while on vacation and knew that Silvestro liked pirate stories and had served in the Navy, Silvestro said.

“I served this country for 12 years. I could have died for this flag, but I can’t hang it up. What’s up with that? I don’t understand,” Silvestro said in an interview earlier this week.

It’s okay, though, The ACLU will ride right in and defend Silvestro, right? Wrong!

When asked if Smith had violated Silvestro’s constitutional rights, perhaps infringing on his freedom of expression, a civil-rights lawyer said: “No.”

“Here’s the thing: Your boss rules your life,” said Mary Catherine Roper, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia office. “Your employer gets to make the rules.” (H/TThe Philadelphia Daily News)

I wonder if it would be different if there was an Islamic flag involved?

This is complete and utter insanity, perpetuated by a true douchebag – Keith Smith. I would love to say that I am surprised by this, but having spent so much of my professional life in the CJC, I can assure you, this is par for the course.

I frakkin’ hate this town.

Topics: Philly | 27 Comments »

27 Responses to “Man Told To Remove U.S. Flag From Desk”

  1. Bloviating Zeppelin Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    I should imagine that, if one looked carefully, there would be an attorney sourced through, perhaps, the Heritage Foundation that would take this case in a heartbeat.


  2. Jon Brooks Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    I’d be willing to bet Smith is an obambi supporting democrat. Not that all democrats are bad mind you.
    Or: …. is he a nephew/relative of Murtha? Just moved here from San Fran? Komrade in the Greater Philidelphia communist party? To be fair, is his boss any of the above? Just converted to Islam? Has an illegal immigrant wife? 1/8 native American? Hates Chrisitans?
    Wears a suit every day? Voted for Carter? Idolizes Sammi Kuntar? Help me here there has to be a reason.

  3. Randal Graves Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    “I’d be willing to bet Smith is an obambi supporting democrat”

    - a total jackass comment. You sir are a douche.

    and I don’t give a sh*t if I’ve broken the “no name calling” rules. You’re a tool!

  4. Bob in CA Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    “- a total jackass comment. You sir are a douche.

    and I don’t give a sh*t if I’ve broken the “no name calling” rules. You’re a tool!”

    What’sa matter junior? Get offended whenever someone denigrates your OpieMessiah? Tough Shiite, Kid! The leftist pond scum denigrated Bush43 for years. Now it’s Opie’s turn. But, rather than make Shiite up about Opie like the left did with Bush, Opie will be providing opportunities daily. Hell, he hasn’t be sworn in yet, and he’s given a boatload of excuses already. Don’t like it? Bite me! Bob in CA!

  5. kaveman Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Wyatt, see if you can contact Ralph and convince him to put a white flag on his computer.

    No stripes, no stars, no nothing. Just a plain white piece of cloth on a stick.

    Smith may confuse it with the flag of France and tell him to yank it, but it would be symbolic of his circumstances.

  6. John D Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Not appropriate for the workplace? In a courthouse? He makes it sound like it’s a poster of Loni Anderson, or something. It’s a flag, for crying out loud. And I have never, ever seen a courtroom that didn’t have a flag displayed there. You guys have some serious asshatery going on down there.

  7. Jon Brooks Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    You forgot to mention the second line..

    “Not that all democrats are bad mind you.”

    And maybe i am a douche..the one that carried the best part of you down your mothers leg?

  8. Old Soldier Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Would be nice if we could lay hands on Mr smiths email address and phone number,,, wonder if that could be arranged…

  9. Jon Brooks Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    My apologies to the site for way I retorted to the obambiton earlier. My parents raised me better than that and I am sure that once he reads this he will realize that his didnt.

  10. Rick Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I wonder what would have been said about a Cuban flag with Che’s picture on it? Or if it was a Russian hammer and sickle.

  11. TexasFred Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    I am willing to bet a months pay that if a faggot had taped a rainbow flag to his computer, no one would have had the guts to call him on it…

    Yes, I AM a redneck!!

  12. TexasFred Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Jon, as for me, no apologies needed, in fact, you were much too kind… You forgot the brown spot she left on the bed… :D

  13. BadIdeaGuy Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    The ACLU has obviously handled far more specious free speech cases. I guess I’d want to see what others have hanging in their workspaces.

  14. Randal Graves Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Jon: Nice to see that your parents raised you to be “typical”.

    TexasFred: You’re a disgraceful homophobe and an embarassment to society. Take your big, white hat and porn mustache and go away.

  15. Wyatt Earp Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 8:13 pm

    Settle down, people. I don’t have many rules, but the two golden ones are as follows:

    1. No personal attacks.

    2. Very little (if any) profanity. My Aunt reads this blog.

    Follow these rules and we’ll all be Jake. Otherwise, I’ll have to close the comments.

  16. RT Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    I just want to know what is so offensive about having an American flag in government offices?

    Aren’t there usually flags hanging up right outside the door?


  17. AJ Lynch Says:
    December 11th, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Loni Anderson. Sweet!

  18. Wyatt Earp Says:
    December 12th, 2008 at 12:29 am

    RT – They are, indeed. And there is one right across the street at City Hall.

  19. Jon Brooks Says:
    December 12th, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Again I apologize I kind of stared it with the sarcastic comments on the “One”. No more comments on the “one” just hoping Atty. Fitzgerald can dig deep enough to make him #2765349. :)

    December 13th, 2008 at 6:45 am

    [...] Support Your Local Gunfighter Share and [...]

  21. Alan B Says:
    December 13th, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    This will be a long post by the standards of this blog so I apologise ahead of time.

    Let me start by saying I am not American although I love the country and (most of) her people. I do try to get myself informed before I make a total fool of myself. That is not to say I always succeed.

    I know that The Flag is held in the very highest regard and respect in the US. Alistair Cook compared the position of the Queen in England not with the President but with The Flag.

    I looked up the flag code/etiquette to see how The Flag should be treated. There are strict rules about the shape of The Flag (the aspect ratio). There are rules about how it should be displayed when other flags are present. How it can never be used in a disrespectful way. How it must be flown. How it must be formerly lowered at sunset unless it is to be lit all night. How even when it is worn out and a particular Flag is tattered it must be treated honourably and destroyed respectfully.

    I look at the story our Frontier Marshall posted. The guy seems to be working in a semi-public area of a Court of Law. He “flies” a copy of the flag which appears to be the wrong shape and just tacked onto the side of his PC. He “flies” it along with the pirate “skull and crossbones” – a symbol of disorder, violence, theft, rape, anarchy.

    If I were his Supervisor and if I held The Flag in the high respect required by the flag code/flag etiquette I would insist he removed both from public view! And I would not enter into a discussion about how long he served in the military etc. If the guy really served and if he really respected The Flag, how come he was “flying” it along side the ultimate symbol of disorder and anarchy?

    Instead of complaining to all and sundry, with the story going to the Press and onto blogs for world-wide ammusement I believe he should have gone to his Supervisor and apologised. He should then have stated he would never have the pirate flag in the office. THEN he could explain how he felt about The Flag and asked how he could demonstrate that feeling in a respectful way that would be acceptable to the Supervisor.

    Whether or not you believe the Bible, there is good practical psychology in there. “A soft answer turns away wrath” or in a more American idiom “More flies are caught with honey than with gall”.

    Maybe I am entirely wrong here but I have talked to a number of Americans in the past and seen how they felt about The Flag. Maybe his Supervisor felt the same way?


  22. Al Says:
    December 15th, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Whatever happened to free speech?

  23. Alan B Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 5:27 am

    Is it free speech for a legal clerk to show active support for pirates while on the job in a semi-public area?

    And to degrade The Flag by “flying” it with the skull and crossbones?

    Perhaps it is. Strange world …

    Maybe he should try flying a flag saying “Al Capone was innocent”.

    In the UK there used to be posters put up to discourage people from sticking up their own posters (pauses for the irony to sink in …):

    “Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted”

    People quickly added the comment:

    “Bill Posters is Innocent!”

  24. Stan Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    I can understand them asking him to remove the pirate flag, the guy himself said he wouldn’t have minded, but asking him to remove a US flag is going too far.

    As to those saying there is something wrong with the US flag he’s holding, it looks fine to me looks like any other mini flag I’ve seen

    “Here’s the thing: Your boss rules your life,”

    Well when your boss happens to be the government things are a bit different than if they were a private company.

  25. Kirby Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    Allen B does have a point as to proper display and handling of the flag. And while on that subject just why in the hell does the Army require the flag to be sewn on ass backwards on the shoulder now, with the blue field/stars on the right instead of the left? Never could get an answer from them on that one after multiple calls to various offices at Ft. Hood.

  26. mark Says:
    December 17th, 2008 at 2:10 pm


    I have been told the ” backwards” flag is to give the impression the flag is moving foward. Think of a color guard, and how the flag looks to someone standing to the left or right as they walk forward .

  27. Allen Says:
    December 20th, 2008 at 9:59 am

    We are on the road to ridiculous. Things will get even worse folks. Take up for yourself now or it will be too late.