Ugh. This is ugly and I’m not really sure anyone “wins” here. Michelle Manhart is an Air Force vet and a former 2007 Playboy model. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s bio shares what she’s perhaps more recognized for:
Manhart, a sergeant in the Air Force at the time, appeared in Playboy in 2007, posing in uniform, out of uniform and while draped with the American flag. She was reprimanded and demoted and quit the military the next year.
She kicked a beehive at Valdosta State University this past weekend. A group of protestors were apparently “trampling” over an American flag over racial inequity. She seized a convenient opportunity to be in the media spotlight and swooped in to “rescue” Old Glory from desecration. Except the campus cops at Valdosta State didn’t appreciate the uproar it started, detaining her after she resisted. According to the AJC, she was given a criminal trespass warning which basically bans her from the campus. Here’s the encounter:
Here’s the University’s statement, via the AJC:
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 said the demonstrators had a right to do so.
“As 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 statement said. “While I firmly disagree with the actions of the protesters, I understand their right to protest.”
And here is what she told the Valdosta Daily Times:
“I did not want anything like this, but I got a call from a student who told me that the flag was on the ground, and they were walking on it,” said Manhart. “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.”
The group reportedly elected not to press charges against Manhart.
Again, I’m not sure what to think. Yes, awesome for her for taking a stand about flag code. Bravo. But the whole incident feels like a politically-motivated play for media attention. Seems like a lot of people trying to instigate each other and ruffle feathers. What do you think?
[H/T: Huffington Post]