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It’s just a bill

Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024 - Posted by Isabel Miller

* Daily Southtown

Homer Township Supervisor Steve Balich reiterated his support Monday for flying the U.S. flag upside down at the township offices in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s guilty verdict.

“I have no regrets about the flag, and I did not break any laws,” Balich said in the first public meeting since he ordered the U.S. flag flown upside down on May 31 to signal that the nation was in distress. “I just wanted to make a point and have a lot of people talking about it, and a lot of people have been talking about it.”

Half of the 16 public speakers at Homer Township’s meeting Monday agreed with Balich and voiced their support for his freedom of expression.

“He has a right as an American to say this was a dark day in America,” said Jan Nahorski, a Joliet resident and Army veteran. Nahorski was among a handful of veterans who defended Balich’s right to freedom of speech.

Rep. Harry Benton…

State Rep. Harry Benton, D-Plainfield, has introduced legislation that would prohibit politically motivated efforts to disrespect the flag, responding to a local incident in which a Will County official flew the American flag upside down outside in support of Donald Trump.

“The flag of the United States is an enduring symbol of our national spirit and pride, and of the sacrifices made by every generation of Americans,” Benton said. “As elected leaders, we swear our oath to that flag and the nation it represents, not to a political leader. There’s no excuse for such disrespect of our flag, and the men and women who served to defend it.”

On May 31, Steve Balich, supervisor of Homer Township in Will County, ordered the national flag outside the Homer Township offices to be flown upside down in response to the conviction of former President Donald Trump on 34 felony counts. Benton and others responded with outrage.

On June 11, Benton filed legislation prohibiting such disrespectful conduct. Benton’s House Bill 5860 would make it a crime for a government official to knowingly cause the national flag to be displayed upside down on government property. House Bill 5861 would make doing so a business offense punishable by a fine of up to $25,000.

Both bills clarify that the flag may only be flown upside down in situations where there is dire distress or extreme danger to life or property—the purpose for which such display is prescribed in the U.S. Flag Code.

“The public official who made this sad choice—to disrespect our nation’s flag and everything it stands for—may be disappointed in the outcome of a certain criminal trial, but that is no excuse,” Benton said. “That he then attempted to deflect rising outrage by draping himself in the very same flag he’d just finished spitting on makes his actions all the more pathetic. We may disagree on a lot of things here in Will County, but this isn’t one of them. Despite our differences, we’re all Americans. Most of us, at least, still think that counts for something.”

Thoughts?

       

23 Comments
  1. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 12:41 pm:

    Like every other conservative value, disrespecting or desecrating the American flag is detestable, but the behavior only counts as disrespect or desecration when people they don’t like are doing it.


  2. - Mason born - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 12:44 pm:

    Sounds Unconstitutional. Not that that seems to stop anyone of either party anymore.


  3. - family matters - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 12:49 pm:

    Agree with Mason born. Ridiculous and a waste of time and almost certainly would get struck down - and rightfully so.

    I think that it’s absolutely idiotic to fly a flag upside down because your presidential candidate was found to be a felon by a jury of his peers - but I think lots of things are idiotic but should still be legal.


  4. - cal skinner - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 12:49 pm:

    Can an attorney reference a case allowing burning of the American Flag?


  5. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 12:52 pm:

    Benton is correct.

    Balich has a right to be as much of a fool as he wants to be. He uses it. Often. He can speak about anything he wants, or even hold a flag upside down, during the trustee segment of township board meetings. He can mount an upside down flag on his personal vehicle.

    Balich doesn’t have the right to use government property and resources to promote his personal views, and outside of any board action taken.


  6. - Steve Rogers - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 12:53 pm:

    If Trump is elected in November, I’ll fly my flag upside down and see if Jan Nahorski and Steve Balich support my freedom of expression.

    Spoiler alert: they won’t.


  7. - The Dude Abides - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 12:56 pm:

    I have no issue with Balich doing what he did on private property.

    When acting as a public official, I also see no issue with his speech as an official being held to a higher standard.


  8. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:04 pm:

    I remember how supportive conservatives and especially veterans were when the School of the Art Institute had an exhibit that encouraged people to stand on the flag. Tremendous outpouring of support for free expression then by the same folks standing with Steve Balich now. Or maybe I am misremembering things.

    We’ve some full circle in 35 years or so. Is it too much to ask for a little consistency? I need to know when it’s OK to denigrate the flag for free expression and when it’s not OK.

    I just want to know, what is the proper way to display the flag?

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/1989/03/02/vets-sue-to-stop-art-institute-school-from-showing-flag-exhibit/


  9. - George Ryan Reynolds - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:14 pm:

    Balich is overseeing a clown show, obviously. Promotes himself as an anti-government, cut-the-budget guy but he’s double dipping as township supervisor and county board member.


  10. - Hannibal Lecter - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:19 pm:

    === Sounds Unconstitutional. ===

    === Benton’s House Bill 5860 would make it a crime for a government official to knowingly cause the national flag to be displayed upside down on government property. ===

    t would be unconstitutional if applied to Balich as an individual, but this only applies when a flag is flown inappropriately on government property. Balich does not have the right to fly the flag at his local government office any way he wants.


  11. - ;) - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:21 pm:

    That’s why they call him ‘Big Issue Benton’ /s


  12. - ChrisB - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:26 pm:

    About to dip into whataboutism here, but would Rep. Benton also like to speak out about the alderman who made a speech in front of a burned flag earlier this year? No? Then it’s a bad bill. Definitely unconstitutional in light of the Supreme Court ruling on burning flags.

    Seems everybody has forgotten what was on the Flag Code test they had to take to pass 8th grade. We took it concurrently with the IL State Government test. It would be nice if we had some refresher courses.


  13. - Northsider - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:38 pm:

    Come on print guys, the headline is waiting: “Benton, Balich beclown”


  14. - just because - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:42 pm:

    What a person does as a private citizen and what they do as an elected official are unfortunately two different things. They are the same person and get elected because of “who” they are, but they must also remember that when doing something as the elected official they are speaking or representing all those who they serve. Also a flag on public property owned by the public entity must follow flag standards.


  15. - Jerry - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:42 pm:

    If Baylitch is an “anti-government guy” then I’m SURE he supports a woman’s Right to make decisions about her own body without Government Regulation or Oversight. Right?


  16. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:47 pm:

    Compounding stupidity by trying to pass a clearly unconstitutional law is not helping. Don’t give the (banned word) any additional air time. That is how you deal with it.


  17. - Spooky32 - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:52 pm:

    Odd that Rep Benton is concerned about how the flag is flown in Homer. Wasn’t he silent when his democratic allies in Chicago burned the flag, while others removed the US flag and replaced it with Palestine’s


  18. - JoanP - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 1:59 pm:

    @ cal skinner: Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989).


  19. - Duck Duck Goose - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 2:08 pm:

    It wasn’t his flag, and it wasn’t his flagpole. That point seems lost on the good commissioner.

    From his comments, I can only assume that Balich fully supported Colin Kapernick’s right to take a knee.

    All that aside, Benton’s bill seems kinda dumb.


  20. - VK - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 2:17 pm:

    I’d have thoughts about this but I find myself having difficulty parsing all the whataboutism being thrown around. Heaven help we just discuss the topic.


  21. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 2:28 pm:

    47th Ward’s memory is accurate. Interesting footnote: the artist (”Dred Scott”) went on to do some amazing things: https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/01/arts/design/dread-scott-venice-biennale.html


  22. - Frida's boss - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 2:35 pm:

    Hopefully, when JB becomes President he’ll realize the innate talent of Representative Benton to take on the hard-hitting massive issues plaguing this country. It would be a shame to waste this superior level of legislative talent in Springfield when the whole country could experience this superior legislative mind.


  23. - First Amendment - Tuesday, Jun 18, 24 @ 3:00 pm:

    I don’t like this bill.


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