Jul. 23, 2001: Doggone it. As much as it pains me to say so, I am going to have to plead guilty to a blatant case of obfuscation and adumbration.

In other words, I haven’t made myself clear. A few weeks ago, I observed that the Georgia state flag battle was over. According to my mail, the fight has only begun.

In the interest of clarity, let me try again. Save your energy. The state flag has been changed. The old one is toast. Gone. Kaput. There will be no public referendum on the issue as there was in Mississippi. The Legislature is not going to bring the state flag up again for your consideration. Roy Barnes is going to win reelection in spite of the way he went about getting the flag changed. And, yes, the new flag is uglier than sin.

Looking at some of the responses I have received, a lot of folks want to blame me for the flag being changed. While I may be guilty of O&A (See the first paragraph), I am not going to take the rap for the flag. I am just the unfortunate soul who has to be the bearer of bad news. I deem this a necessary public service.

If you want to get mad at somebody, it is spelled B-A-R-N-E-S. I suggest you fuss at him and all those in the Legislature who voted for the change. Obviously, there were a bunch that did, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Frankly, I don’t give a rip one way or the other. Whether the flag has Stars and Bars on it or looks worse than a pair of cheap golf slacks is of zero interest at my house.

I think the flag change is just symbolic of the frustration people have about losing another part of our Southern heritage. Whites feel under siege as more and more of the Old South is declared politically-incorrect and there seems to be no way to stop the trend. The state flag was just the last straw.

The only answer to frustration in our democratic society comes at the ballot box. Let me deliver some more bad news. The flag change isn’t going to beat Roy Barnes because not enough people in the state think it is a major issue. In fact, there are many who agree with the change because they think the old flag was racially polarizing. Most people are more concerned about traffic, pollution, education, public safety, health care costs, scarce natural resources and the like. These are critical quality of life issues and these are the issues that I want my government to spend its time on, not what the state flag looks like.

Here is a suggestion to those of you who are still hopping mad over the state flag but are not interested in joining me in my heroic efforts to rid the South of ice hockey once and for all. Let’s band together and boycott any business that puts up the American flag and leaves it up to get dirty and ragged. Public law suggests that the Stars and Stripes should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset unless properly illuminated but from the looks of some American flags I see in front of many establishments, they have clearly been forgotten about. Personally, I would support a flag-burning amendment in a heartbeat. Opponents say it violates the right of self-expression. So does yelling “Bomb!” in a crowded theater but that doesn’t make it right. If we can’t get Congress to pass the flag-burning amendment – and they won’t – let’s at least punish those businesses that disrespect the American flag by their neglect of it.

As we used to say in the corporate world, this would be a win-win for everybody. Those still worked up over the new state flag would have a new issue on which to focus their energies. Those who don’t consider the new flag a big deal, wouldn’t have to listen to those who do. The governor and the legislature would take all of this as a sign that everybody is willing to forgive and forget and they could concentrate on getting themselves reelected. As for the rest of us, there would be only clean, crisp American flags everywhere we looked.

I am pleased to announce that this idea is free. I wouldn’t think of charging for it. It is the least I can do for having been so obfuscated and adumbrated.