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NEWS- Don't tread on them: Libertarians rally round Arby's flag

Published January 30, 2003, in issue #0204 of The Hook


Tom Slonaker has lowered the Arby's flag at his Forest Lakes restaurant-- the one that led Albemarle County to take him to court-- but he hasn't given up the battle for his right to fly it. And his dispute with the County continues to draw supporters.

Local Libertarians are holding a rally at his store Saturday, February 1, because they think Slonaker's property rights are threatened.

"Property rights are central to a free society," says Libertarian John Munchmeyer. "People need to be free to do with their property what they wish as long as they're not hurting anyone. We don't think Mr. Slonaker flying his [Arby's] flag or parking a truck with signs in front of his store or putting signs in the window advertising roast beef sandwiches is hurting anyone."

The group has purchased ads in local papers lamenting a government "devoid of common sense" and proclaiming, "It is time to end this absurdity!"

Speakers at the 1 to 3pm rally will include Conservative Coalition co-founder Peter Way and John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, which is representing Slonaker in Albemarle County's suit against him. The civil rights organization believes Slonaker's First Amendment rights have been violated.

The county's case against Slonaker will be heard March 24. "We intend to present a constitutional defense," says Frazier Solsberry, who's representing Slonaker for the Rutherford Institute.

At the "rally round the flag," Slonaker will provide Arby's flags that supporters can put on their cars. He says he's heard from more than 50 local businesspeople frustrated with what he calls the county's "anti-business" practices.

Currently, Slonaker is flying a University of Virginia sabers flag in front of his store. "I want to see if the county can tell the difference between an 'A' and a 'V', " he says. "That's the difference between being fined and not being fined."

And at the rally, Slonaker plans to hoist another banner up his flagpole, one that's been a favorite of rebellious folks for a couple of centuries: "Don't tread on me."

Libertarians support Tom Slonaker's right to fly an Arby's flag.



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