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To the editor: The theoretical foundation of Tim Stevenson’s letter concerning the BLM flag flap in Bellows Falls — "Black Lives (still) Matter" — is sound and certainly presented persuasively.

But his letter overlooks an issue that, from what I read, was raised by only David Clark, a long-time Bellows Falls Union High School Board member who has been dedicated to the welfare of the school and its students for many years. I refer to his suggestion that, before any action is taken on a request to add a flag to the high school flagpole, a clear flag policy needs to be developed.

Many will argue, much too glibly, perhaps even Mr. Stevenson, that Clark’s suggestion is just racism masquerading as seeming common sense. But, clearly it is not.

If the board, without more guideline, allows the BLM flag to float above the school, what does the board do when someone asks to add a confederate flag, or a swastika?

Of course, we can distinguish between a BLM flag and a confederate flag. But that distinction is not based on flag size (too large for the pole), or flag material (wind and weather will shred it), or any physical attribute of a piece of cloth.

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That distinction is purely political. And because it is political, it implicates the First Amendment. And because it implicates the First Amendment, Clark’s suggestion, that a school policy on what flags, if any, may be added to the flag pole, is compelling.

Developing such a policy may be difficult because of the political attributes of all flags. For example, a policy barring flags representing concepts that the United States has fought wars against sounds like a legitimate basis for distinction, and one that might prevail against a First Amendment challenge.

But, even that distinction does not escape the political attachment that all flags have. We fought a war against Nazism, yet Nazis were given the right, some 30 years later, to parade in Skokie, Illinois. So even that distinction is not as clear as we would like it to be.

But what is clear is that, if the high school board agrees, willy nilly, to fly the BLM flag, with no policy in place, there will be no basis for that board to refuse anyone else from flying their flag of choice.

Stephen Fine

Chester, April 15