Skip to content

A Sense of Decorum and the Coming Flag Debate

I sat yesterday at my desk in the back of the House chamber while a number of my colleagues paid tribute to Sen. Clem Pinckney.

Some were elected to the House at the same time he was in 1997. Others were members who had come to know him after he was elected to the Senate or who served with him on the Charleston Delegation.

All spoke of his dignity and integrity, his booming voice and kind words, and his love and dedication to the people that he represented.

Today, his casket will lie in the Statehouse for public viewing and Friday his funeral will be held at the TD Arena at the College of Charleston.

As the character of this good man was described, though one of his colleagues joked that he did not walk on water and would not want to be canonized, the words and actions of his colleagues were decorous.

Decorum and good manners have long been ascribed as positive characteristics of Southern society and can be found still in the simplest “yes sir or no mam” that a child says to his elders. These two virtues were evident in the House chamber all through yesterday – not just during the prayers and words given for the victims of the Emanuel AME Church murders – but during the time of normal House business and even extended to the final budget approval vote.

Decorum was also very evident in the vote to add a debate about the Confederate Flag to our post-session House calendar. The good manners of all those present in the chamber reflected the seriousness of the tragedy that happened in Charleston and the coming difficult debate about the flag.

Our well-mannered habit of being did not happen by accident. It requires a long exposure to God’s grace that only comes from difficult circumstances and if nothing else, our history in the South is a history of difficult circumstance. 

We face yet another difficult circumstance. The coming debate will not just be about the proper display of the Confederate Flag. Social media and the hyper-revolutionary rhetoric fueled by it will not allow that.

These post-modern furies demand a politically correct cultural cleansing. They are the same old group of outside political leftists who have hated the South for decades. They see the flag debate as an opportunity to call into question the integrity and legitimacy of the political South whose history traces back to the founding of the country and carries with it the original DNA of conservatism.

Their lack of decorum, starting almost immediately after the murders in Charleston, showed tremendous disrespect for the victims and their families. They continue to run roughshod over anyone who dares challenge their political agenda.

Many conservative members of the House are appalled at their lack of manners. We have not answered as we believe that now is not the time to discuss such matters as we grieve with Charleston.