So I read that Gov. Christie is defending the fact that he flew the flags in New Jersey at half-mast for Whitney Houston.
This is a travesty. Period.
I have nothing against Ms. Houston, and I know she has provided a lot of entertainment and joy to her many fans, and I am saddened by her sudden (but sadly predictable) death. However, even if I were a resident of New Jersey, I could not care less about this incident, except for the sadness I would feel for any person who succumbs to drugs or other evils.
It was a tragedy on a human level. That Ms. Houston was an extremely talented and popular entertainer adds no solemnity nor moral significance to her untimely passing. Her death was not heroic. Her life was not given in the service to others, nor for reasons that were most likely anything but selfish. Her story is repeated by tens of thousands of people every year.
Regardless, the half-mast treatment is wholly inappropriate. Flying flags at half-mast has become so common as to be a complete joke. It seems I see some flags, certainly not all at any given time, at half-mast at least once a month and generally have no idea why, nor could I.
Our flags stand for America and our unity as citizens of this great Republic and of the great States that comprise it, and their lowering for anything less than a real and significant tragedy of national scope cheapens our symbols of unity.
There are more appropriate ways to express our condolences for people like Ms. Houston, and I'm sure those will be exercised appropriately in the coming weeks and months. I would add that Sony's raising the price on electronic versions of her great hits compilation within 30 minutes of the news breaking of her passing is most assuredly not appropriate, but I guess it shows where their true sympathies lie.
If you ask me the American Flag should be flown at half-mast for nothing less than the death of a President, another national symbol of our national unity, or a significant national tragedy like 9/11, where we as a nation were truly united in mourning. A State flag should be flown at half mast, for the same reason, and perhaps the death of a chief executive. Anything more makes a mockery of the flags and what they stand for.
At this rate, how long will be it until we become a nation that is perpetually in mourning, and what does this say about us and our country?
On second thought, perhaps it's actually appropriate.