John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The rise and fall of the South, as staged in the backyard of West St. Paul councilman Ed Hansen.
Hansen, a councilmember in West St. Paul, had proudly flown a Confederate flag emblazoned with the word "REDNECK" from his back porch despite the complaints of neighbors and the city's mayor. It was a matter of "free speech," he told the Pioneer Press, adding, "What's the problem?" And because people clearly weren't feeling him yet, "it's cool."
However, since blowing cigar smoke in the face of the public will, Hansen has performed a screaming U-turn and stowed away his cool flag. Is the liberal nanny state to blame for this craven censorship? Well, no: The free market kind of is.
Turns out that Hansen owns a franchise store in the Rocco's Pizza line, and company president Jim Bauer wasn't too enthused with this form of free speech. Here's part of the letter that Bauer, displaying the brutal hammerblows characteristic of all Bauers, wrote to the Minnesota City Pages:
He relayed to me his intention was to raise awareness of the tax and spend attitude of government and he flew the flag as a "rebel" not a racist. What ever his reason, the flag was a misguided attempt to get his point across and in poor taste. I am very sorry his actions offended you. I hope in the future, Mr. Hansen puts more thought into the message he is sending.
Flag image courtesy of Crotalus horridus.