Earl not Reviled?

I just watched the recent episode of "My Name is Earl." I'm surprised it didn't make more news.
Without going deep into the plot, Earl and Randy climb a water tower hoping to get arrested for trespassing. They start waving the flag around on top of the tower and jumping up and down. They fall through the top, into the empty tank. They tied ropes around their waists so they didn't fall far, and ended up hanging in mid air inside the tank.

When they fell through, however, they dropped the US flag, and it spent several scenes crumpled on the floor of the water tank. Due to a continuity error, Earl is holding the flag as they lift him out at the end.

Overall, the flag contributed to a nice visual at the end, and a moonlanding/MTV guy joke earlier on, but it wasn't central to the plot. If it hadn't been a part of the show, it wouldn't have made any difference.

If this episode had aired in 1991, however, there would have been protests and letters to NBC demanding an apology and that the show be cancelled.

Back then, the far right was willing to go after a fictional character for becoming pregnant. They surely would have gone after a fictional character for dropping the flag.

There would have been hearings in Congress highlighting Hollywood's desecration of the flag as one more example of its complete disregard for and disattachment from the American Heartland. There would have been veteran's marches, and pundits would have swarmed the airwaves.

Then, there would have been the anti-censorship rallies, driving support for free speech and the rights of sitcoms to use the flag for whatever purpose was needed to suit the artistic vision.

There would have been renewed the debate about what the flag means.

But that hasn't happened today, and I find that interesting. In the era of the War On Terror (WOT) and accusations that those critical of the government are giving aide and comfort to America's enemies, this dropped flag seems to have escaped criticism. The desecration of the flag movement seems almost to have fallen out of fashion.

There is still an amendment to the Constitution pending in Congress right now that would allow Congress to ban desecration, but it has been stuck in sib-committee since last summer. A brief look back through congressional records indicates this movement is losing steam. Throughout the 90s, the proposed amendment would easily pass in the House, but then get stuck in the Senate because proponents were short a few votes. Now, however, it can't even get out of a sub-committee in the House.

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