By The Progressive on July 19, 2006
Arrest, Death Threat, for Farmer with Upside Down Flag
By Matthew Rothschild

July 19, 2006

Dale Klyn raises beef cows in Corydon, Iowa.

For the past six years, he has been flying an American flag on his property.

But since May 21, that flag has been upside down.

He gives two reasons.

First, he’s angry at a judge for allowing a debtor of his to declare bankruptcy. The debtor, who had bought a business from Klyn on a contract and still owed him $282,000, now only has to “pay me six cents on the dollar,” says Klyn. “The judge approved that on the 18th of May. I was pretty upset about that.”

Second, he wants to show solidarity for Terri Jones.

She’s the Iowa mom who has been flying her flag upside down after her son returned from the Iraq War and committed suicide. (Klyn had never met her before.)

“When I got the Des Moines Register and read the article about Terri Jones and how her son didn’t get the medical attention he needed, I decided I’m going to support her and oppose what the judge had done and fly my flag upside down,” he says.

It got a reaction.

“I went to the local Case equipment dealer and bought some parts, and the salesman come out and he asked me why I was flying the flag upside down,” Klyn says. “So I explained it to him.”

But the salesman wasn’t sold, telling Klyn, “I’ve lost all respect for you. I’ll buy you a one-way ticket anywhere you want to go out of the country,” Klyn recalls.

Klyn says his postal worker also remarked on it.

“The mail carrier left me a personal note,” he says.

A local TV news reporter then came out and did a story on him.

“The next thing I knew I’d been charged with disorderly conduct,” he says. “I was surprised. I have the right and the freedom to do that.”

On July 6, Klyn, represented by the Iowa ACLU, met with a magistrate.

“I pled not guilty,” Klyn says. “No trial date has been set.” Terri Jones, by the way, went to court that day to support him.

“She came to my hearing," he says. “It was very kind of her.”

Alan Wilson, the county attorney who is prosecuting the case, did not return three phone messages for comment.

But Klyn’s troubles go beyond this court case.

He faces death threats from a forum on a Marine vets’ website, www.leatherneck.com, which calls itself the “Marine Corps Community for USMC Veterans.”

That forum contained the following remarks from four different Marines:

“Any scout snipers live in Corydon, Iowa???”

“Corn hole ’m.”

“Fly him under it upside down.”

“If the flag is flying upside down, it means he is in trouble, right? I think we Marines should show up and get him ‘out’ of trouble.”

Says Klyn: “I view it as a threat.”

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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