Indiana

The flag of Indiana isn’t bad… it just needs a little work to overcome two of my least-favorite flag design failures: words and too many stars.

A flag shouldn’t have to rely on the name of the place being included in the design. Even putting it in small print like this smacks of a lack of confidence. No great flag has the name of the place on it. None. Delete it.

And for the love of God, what is it with states making a big deal out of how many states joined the Union before them, by littering their flags with stars to show how many? Indiana even goes to the trouble of having 13 in the outer ring (stolen from Betsy Ross), then 5 more  in the inner semi-circle, plus one slightly bigger star for itself. Too much arcane symbolism is getting wrapped up here. Delete the stars… except the one for Indiana, at the top.

The lines emanating from the torch aren’t horrible, but they’re a representation of light that already has two other symbols of light on it, and I don’t see a torch having such “orderly” light rays coming from it. So take them out, and adjust the remaining elements. Unify and simplify that torch flame. Enlarge the star that represents Indiana: be proud of yourself. And if this simpler design reminds you a little of the letter “I”… that’s just your Imagination.

Maryland

Maryland’s old flag is painful to look at. Somehow, it ranked fourth (meaning “good”) in the North American Vexillological Association’s survey of state flags! Those people have got to be out of their minds. I assume they gave it credit for daring to be ugly, or for engaging in some kind of perverse vexillo-illogical juxtaposition.

One of my pet peeves is when someone takes a state seal or crest and slaps it in the middle of a piece of cloth, and calls it a flag. This is essentially the same thing… they’re just filling the whole flag with the kind of design you’d get in some nobleperson’s coat of arms. Note: coats of arms are some of the most horrible graphic designs ever, other than 1960s concert posters.

The Maryland flag is two fundamentally incompatible designs put together, and their incongruity is accentuated by repeating each of them. You’ll hear me bitch over and over on this site about stuffing a whole flag into one corner of a flag, and these idiots stuffed an entire flag into all four corners!

And to make matters worse, one of those quarters is itself divided… into quarters! Utterly insane. I grieve for any Maryland schoolchildren who have to try to draw this flag for civics assignments or whatever.

My first attempt to fix this mess got rid of the repetition, and overlapped the patterns and colors in a way that… sort of works, in a post-modern kind of way. Still a bit anxiety-inducing, but better. An artistic schoolkid could remember this, maybe.

But I’m trying to fix not just bad flag design. I’m trying to fix bad flag history. And my research then discovered that those red-and-white quarters were a design included in the state flag back in the 19th century to represent the treasonous faction who wanted to join the Confederacy. Umm… no. We don’t accommodate that.

At the point I realized that, my job became simple: revert to just the yellow and black portion of the design. This was originally taken from the banner of the Calvert family, founders of the colony. Should’ve stuck with it. It’s distinctive without being harmful to the eyes or the soul. This is the one I’d go with.

Alternatively, if you really have a perverse attachment to that clashing set of four colors, you could at least rearrange them into the Calvert pattern instead, and this is my Plan B.

Mississippi

Let’s get this piece of crap taken care of right away.

Mississippi’s current flag suffers from a couple of problems. The first is that it’s really two flags in one: a set of stripes, with another flag stuffed into the canton (that special upper-left corner)… that’s simply bad design. The second problem is the fact that the second flag is the KKK’s beloved Confederate Battle Flag… that’s simply bad. Those don’t fly anymore in civilized places, and it’s why Mississippi needs to send this fucking thing into the garbage bin of history where it belongs. We can be better than that.

There have been a couple of replacements proposed in recent years, both aimed at fixing the second problem, and that’s great. They’re both a lot better, and I’d get behind either of them… if I wasn’t sick of flags filled with a bunch of stars that you’re expected to count, just to learn how many states there were in the U.S. after it joined.

Folks, unless you’re Delaware, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or the District of Columbia, no one knows or cares what-number state you are. (Yeah, the U.S. Flag has the same problem of too many stars. We’ll get to that later.)

What we need here is a clean break from 1) a bad design and 2) bad history… something with a clean, modern look that residents could look up at with self-respect, and that visitors could look at without stopping the car and turning around out of fear. (Does Mississippi have an airport? Do tourists fly into it? Maybe they would if there wasn’t a racist battle flag greeting them when they deplaned.)

The new Mississippi flag retains the colors of the racist one, and even the motifs of a star, and a blue stripe on a red field. (I was feeling generous toward the nostalgia of Mississippians.) But this flag design turns the blue stripe into something suggesting a river, like the one that gives Mississippi its name, and which is lot better for the state’s image than the state’s history is. (I’m not a fan of initials on flags, but if you want to read this as the letter S as in MiSSiSSippi, that’s OK.)