Valdosta State University in Georgia banned for life an Air Force veteran who attempted to prevent desecration of the US Flag. University students had laid the flag on the ground and were walking on it as part of their protest.
The veteran Michelle Manhart, also a former Playboy model, was quoted as saying, “I was just going over there to pick up the flag off the ground. I don’t know what their cause is, but I went to pick it up because it doesn’t deserve to be on the ground.”
Manhart, a former sergeant in the Air Force posed for Playboy Magazine in 2007; posing in uniform, out of uniform and while draped with the American flag. Reprimanded and demoted by the Air Force, Manhart left the military the next year.
The university president and the police sided with the student protesters and Manhart was ultimately given a criminal trespass warning which effectively bans her from any university activity for life.
In a statement posted on the college’s website, Valdosta State University President William J. McKinney said the American flag “represents everything that is best about our country” but also said that the demonstrators had a right to do so. “The Supreme Court has held, one of those things is the right to free speech, which includes the right to disrespect even the symbol of our country,” McKinney’s went on to say. “While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest.”
While McKinney’s statement is correct, a lifetime ban from any college activity seems more than a bit excessive to me. In fact it is intended to teach a lesson to those who still respect the American flag and what it stands for. It essentially says your values are not wanted on this campus.
I hope people will remember this president’s message and that future donations and attendance at Valdosta State will reflect this state university’s one-sided support for the disrespect of this country, its flag, its values and its veterans … even if that veteran is a former playmate of the month.