Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Harumph to Pahrump

Pahrump, Nevada, that is. This "quiet, country life" town is 63 miles west of Las Vegas, near the California state line. Prior to the '90s, Pahrump was known to many Las Vegas residents as "the place where the whorehouses are." Now it's the place where the bigots live.

Pahrump's elders voted last week to approve an ordinance that makes it illegal to display a foreign flag unless an American flag is flown above it. You read that correctly. You cannot fly a foreign flag in Pahrump, Nevada unless you fly an American flag above it.


8. Flying of Flags on residential and business property including land. The Official Flag of the United States of America shall be flown in accordance to United States Code, Title 4. No other flag or pennant may be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America. And, if flown from the same halyard in this order from top to bottom:

a. The Official Flag of the United States of America.
b. The Official Flag of the State of Nevada.
c. The Official Flag of the Town of Pahrump.
d. The Official Flag of our Military Forces.
e. Any other flag or pennant an individual wishes to fly other than a flag of a foreign nation.
f. A flag of a foreign nation cannot be flown by itself, and must always be flown with the Official Flag of the United States of America, union first, from separate staffs. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag, equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States.

For the purposes of subsections a. through e. these flags can be flown by themselves.

You can not fly the flag of any foreign country unless you fly an American flag more prominently. Guess the First Amendment doesn't apply in Pahrump, Nevada.

Curiously, the town's official web site includes links to translate it into another language.

Pahrump was, for a period, home to the Chicken Ranch brothel after it moved from LaGrange, Texas. The Chicken Ranch now is located just outside Pahrump. The Chicken Ranch brothel was the inspiration for the 1982 movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and the 1973 ZZTop song, LaGrange.

Pahrump was also recently featured on the NBC television drama Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, created by Aaron Sorkin. Guest star John Goodman played a judge who's not a fan of Studio 60. It was a two-part episode airing November 6 and 13. Those of you who saw these episodes now know why Sorkin chose Pahrump for these episodes.

Syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. sums it up:
At moments like this, I barely recognize my own country. Americans confronted slavery, the Great Depression, the Third Reich, and racial injustice here at home. Now some of us tremble at the sight of a piece of cloth. How sad. We're a bigger people than that. Even if some of us, now and then, tend to forget it.