HGTV's Flag Tablecloth Draws Fire

In anticipation of Fourth of July celebrations, HGTV suggested using an American flag as a tablecloth.

  HGTV flag

On its Facebook page, the network suggested "Classic Fourth of July Table Setting Ideas" including this tip

"Drape a large American flag over the table as a bright and festive table runner. Use a nylon flag so spills can be easily wiped off and the flag can later be hung with pride on a flag pole."

Apparently, the network designers were unaware of "Flag Etiquette," according to the U.S. Government, which includes the following:

"The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers [sic] desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general."

As expected, backlash on HGTV's Facebook page came from across the nation:

  • I am appalled that you would suggest using the flag that my brother was killed defending in Iraq as something to catch spills on a table at a cookout.
  • No one dies for a table cloth.

HGTV issued this apology:

"HGTV Fans, regarding the recent article that appeared on our website...This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened. We sincerely apologize and have removed the post from our website. We want to assure our fans that HGTV is proud of the American flag and everything it symbolizes for our people."

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your assessment of HGTV's decorating advice: was it an innocent mistake, or should the designers have known better?
  • What's your view of the reaction? Are people too sensitive? Is this a desecration of the flag? Or something else?
  • What's your view of HGTV's apology? What works well, and what could be improved?
  • In the excerpt from the government website, I added "[sic]." What does this mean, and why did I add it?