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The Flag of Detroit should be the Flag of Michigan

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BlackflagBlackflag (PRO)
I thank NZlockie for choosing to debate this topic with me. To the benefit of the judges, I would like to go over my one rule again, which a bug unfortunately deleted. The rule said "The seal of Detroit will be replaced with the state seal of Michigan". The seal of detroit being the center piece of the Detroit Flag. Quickly, I would like to show a side by side comparison of the two flags in question. 

It is important to recognize the meaning of each flag, before such a debate can even begin to take place. 

The Flag of Michigan, is one of 26 United States flags to contain the state seal plastered over a blue background. The Two Deer, represent Michigans Wildife. who are holding both a shield and a banner. The banner, in latin, means "If you want a better peninsula, look no further". Whereas the shield itself shows a yipper with a walking stick standing along the great lakes. 

The Flag of Detroit on the other hand, represents the 4 governments which held the city. England, is represented by the traditional royal flag of England, the Kingdom of France is represented by the Fluer de' Saint, the royal standard of the Bourbon Monarchy, and finally, the stripes and stars represent the colonial and United States government possession. The center of the flag is the Detroit Seal, depicting a distressed maiden near the burned city of Detroit in 1805, next to her a cheerful maiden, standing next to the new and rebuilt city of Detroit. 

Michigan's Flag Isn't Unique 
Currently, there are 26 states in the Union whose flag is represented by the state seal over a blue or white background. When compared to other flags in the union during a NAVA survey, the 26 state flags with the plastered state seal scored lowest in visual appeal, with the most popular flag being from New Mexico 
Which begs the question. What makes a great flag? 

The Flag of New Mexico is great for several reasons. 
- The Flag pays tribute to the states history ("Catalonia Standard Orange")
- Pays tribute to the State's People (Zia Bar)
- Is simple and memorable (flag can be memorized by a child)
- Is Unique (No other flag like it)

I intend to prove that the Flag of Detroit is substantially better than the Flag of Michigan, and although it has its flaws, it meets the criteria for a good state flag. 

Flag Pays Tribute to State History + People
The Flag of Michigan is meaningless. When I say meaningless, I say it in its most literal sense. There is no passion to the flag. There is no emotion that comes from looking at it. It is simply a flag, because it fails to do one vital thing all good flags must do. Idealize the nation in one picture. A flag should be the best snapshot of a nation, and should tell a story. Michigan's flag does not tell a story.

Michigan's flag simply shows that we have a beautiful peninsula and that we're in America. That may be great for people living out of state, but what of us who live, work, and breath in these lands? The people who love these lands? Is that the best story we can give for our nation? I definitely don't think so. Whereas the Flag of Detroit, gives us a good idea of what we as a people have been through. 

The Flag of Detroit pays tribute to our past, and our future. The seal shows perseverance and struggle, while the 4 flags honor our heritage and those that came before us. That is something to care about. There is feeling in this flag, and that is proof enough it is a better alternative to the current flag of Michigan. 

It is more memorable than the current flag 
I admit that there are a lot of details to the Flag of Detroit, and that's the truth, but I heavily contend that it will be more memorable. While changing the seal inside the flag will combine two already complex flags, I think it is within reason to assert the change in theme from the other 26 flags will more than make up for the addition of detail. 

A child will have better time remembering one unique, but complex flag, over another flag that' is simple but generic. 

It is Unique 
This is an important contention. Why have a unique flag? Because as a collective people, we strive to be unique. Original. Our own special breed. Why would any nation want to be like all the rest? Why would any nation want to be boring? It is true that no two bodies of land are the same, but there is something to be said for identity. Why be one in 26, when you can be one in a kind? 

The Detroit Flag is unique, therefore superior to the Michigan Flag.

The Detroit Flag is in Minimal Usage 
There are no official numbers on the amount of flags in usage for "Detroit", but any native will tell you the same thing. The presence of the flag is near non existent. Why fly a flag that represents one city? I don't think it's practical outside city events and over government buildings.  Which is why the transition will go so much smoother from one flag to another. While the Michigan Flag is in more widespread use, the presence of the flag is also low compared to other states in the union. 

I contend that the transition from one flag to another will go easier do to the minimal current use of both flags. 

How will this flag help Michigan?
There are many reasons why we have flags. The two most important being the "representation of our government" and the "pride of our people". By having a more dignified and vibrant flag, we will create a more dignified and vibrant government. When our delegates make commercial deals in Virginia, why represent ourselves with a near identical symbol, when we could use something colorful and exciting? The image of our government will improve substantially with the image on our flag. 

As for the pride of our people, that's also important. When people become proud in their country, they grow passionate for it as well. When people are passionate about something, there are few things they wont do to make it better and greater. Because it is natural for humans to care about things they love. If we can make a flag to be proud of, we can create proud people. When we have proud people, we have a great nation. 

I leave the floor to the opposition.

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-09-28 16:09:56
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
I'd like to thank my opponent for setting this debate up and for his opening round. As a keen Vexillologist, there was no way I could pass this debate up and I look forward to a great debate where I hope to convince you that the city flag of Detroit should NOT be adopted as the state flag of Michigan.

Clarification and Correction
I'm pleased to hear my opponent say that understanding the meaning of a flag is critical. I want to echo this point. A flag is NOT a brand. It should be a recognisable symbol which communicates as much as possible about that which it represents. Understanding the meaning behind each componant of the flag may seem tedious to some, but in reality is hugely important. 

Knowing this, I'd like to clear up some mistakes my opponent has made in regards to the current flags in question. I mean no disrespect in doing this, rather it will serve to prove my point that both the current Michigan flag AND the proposed replacement, the current Detroit flag are too complicated to adequately serve as the state flag. 

Current State flag of Michigan:
Adopted during an unfortunate era in American state flags, Michigan, along with 25 others form, what is referred to as, the "Shields and Fields" group of flags. All are simply the state shield emblazoned on a plain background. Normally a shade of Blue. This was basically just laziness. 
That being said, I believe the ideals expressed in the Michigan shield are actually fundamental elements of the state, many of which should also be expressed in the new flag. As such it's important to identify these accurately - something my opponent has only sort of done.

  • Firstly, the supporters are not Deer as my opponent suggests, they are a Stag and a Moose -both of which were native to Michigan. 
  • The crest is the American Bald Eagle, along with the standard American motto, "E Pluribus Unum" which means, "Out of many, One." This is significant as it ties Michigan state to the rest of the Union. It is the only part of this flag to do so. 
  • The State motto is written below the shield and translates to, "If you seek a pleasant peninsular, look about you". It refers to the great natural beauty of Michigan.
  • Moving to the shield itself, there are several important points to note here. Firstly the motto along the top, "Tuebor" is latin and translates to, "I will Defend". This refers to the fact that Michigan is a border state. It recognises that as such, it holds a responsibility to defend the nation from possible intruders. 
  • The man standing in the picture is not, as my opponent suggests, holding a walking stick. He has his arm raised in a greeting but in his other hand he holds a rifle. This communicates that Michigan welcomes us, but is ever vigilant to defend. This kind of complex subtle message is VERY common in shields like this, and can also be seen in the Detroit one.
  • Beside the man we see a sun rise, which is a common element in flags and speaks to the bright optimistic future of the state. And the water beside him which references the lakes that are an important part of Michigan landscape.

The crucial elements to be taken from the current flag are:
 - Michigan's natural landscape.
- Michigan's important role as a border state.
- Michigan's membership of the union. 

Should Michigan change their flag?
Oh most definitely. It is a terrible flag and breaks almost every rule in the vexillogical handbook. As evidenced by my opponent who is actually a Michigan native, most people have no idea what it means. 

When designing a flag, there are several things to look for. Not ALL of these rules must be followed but these are a good guideline:
- Must be fit for purpose: The design must be distinguishable, both when flying and when at rest.
- Must be simple: No more than three colours are recommended. Preference should be given to bold shapes. No text, certainly no latin. A basic rule of thumb is to consider how hard it would be for a child to draw from memory. 
- Must be distinctive: Surprisingly to most people, this is actually the least important criteria. Espousing our uniqueness is actually a fairly modern phenomenon. Family crests and National Flags especially are actually more designed to show what origins you SHARE , rather than what makes you different. State flags are a little different though, so I'm bringing this one in there. 

 Michigan's flag fails on every level of these criteria. It NEEDS to be changed.

Why not change to Detroit's flag?
there are several reasons. Let's look at them first, and then I'll reveal my pick for the new Michigan flag.

It's Detroit's flag. 
Seems rather obvious and it is. This flag already belongs to Detroit. As a representative of Detroit it does a fantastic job. It would be hard to design a flag that better encapsulates the city. If this flag becomes Michigan's, then what happens to Detroit? 
My opponent makes the point that in HIS opinion there's no need for a city to have a flag - but I'm afraid he is fighting a lone fight against centuries of tradition there. Detroit citizens may not utilise their flag as much as some cities do, but to say the city doesn't need one at all might be going a step too far. In the same way as it does for a Family, County, State and Nation, a city needs a flag to represent its unique identity.

It's true that Michigan and Detroit share a lot of history, but as my flag will show, that can be better captured on a completely new design.

It shares many of the same faults as the existing one:
This is true. My opponent still wants the Michigan crest on there which is probably the worst thing about the existing flag. It's complicated and obscure. It contains text in a foreign language and too many colours. 
The Detroit flag also pays a significant reference to both France and England, something that the USA as a country still tries to distance itself from. This is appropriate at a city or even a county level, but at a state level, it should be avoided if possible. (I'm looking at YOU Hawaii.)
The general design of the Detroit flag IS different to a lot of American flags, but maybe not as much as my opponent thinks. Consider Maryland, also a quartered design with French elements in it:
I'll grant you, it is a world better than the Shields and Fields they have now, but we can do better if it is uniqueness you're after.

Enough of this! Show us your design already!
My counter-proposal for the new Michigan state flag is completely new. It has been modified from a proposal by a guy who has some pretty interesting ideas when it comes to redesigning the State flags of the USA. You can see his original lame design here
Here's my suggested design:

Looks cool - but what does it MEAN?

  • Michigan is made up of two peninsulars. It is a very unique and distinctive aspect of the State and is represented here by two red stars, and the two lower white portions. 
  • These sections are linked in the flag just as they are in real life by the Mackinac Bridge, one of the longest bridges in the world and an absolute icon of the state.
  • The stylised bridge in this flag design is also a reference to the rising sun of the original flag and symbolises hope for a brighter future. 
  • The shield in the centre of the flag references the fact that Michigan plays an important role as a border state. This element is repeated no less than three times in the original flag and deserves to be represented again. 
  • The Stars and Bars link it with the fact that it is part of the Union. There are thirteen stripes to represent the 13 original colonies - a convention in American vexilloids. 
  • There are 26 stars on this flag to reference the fact that Michigan was the 26th state to join the union. This is also a convention in American flags and is shared by a number of states. It helps people like me remember the order in which the states joined.
  • The colours are obviously Red, White and Blue. This references the USA, as well as Great Britain and France - which is why the USA went with those colours in the first place. 
  • The Secondary purpose of the colours is that White represents snow - a major part of Michigan life and Blue represents the Lakes, ANOTHER major part of Michigan life.

Thus this flag represents natural features as well as man made features of the state. It represents history and heritage, and retains the important defensive element of the original flag. The rising sun element that forms the backdrop to the whole thing symbolises hope for a brighter tomorrow.
It is a surefire winner.

Vote PRO. If my opponent was allowed to, I think even he would. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-09-29 14:09:08
| Speak Round
nzlockie: Admit it, my flag rocks. Would you like to concede the debate? I'll let you submit my design as your own...

Return To Top | Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (PRO)
I'm going to concede the debate, but I want to make it clear I'm not a huge fan of the flag. I'll post my reasoning, and see if NZlockie is up to giving it another go. 
- The Portrayal of the Mackinac Bridge was cool and all, but I'm pretty sure the bridge isn't important or memorable enough to be apart of our flag. Yes, it is the largest suspension bridge in the world, but the whole symbolism of a bridge on a flag falls kind of short for me.  
- The most memorable thing about Michigan is that it has 11,000 lakes, 5 of them being the biggest freshwater lakes in the known world. I think that deserves a role on the flag, and the fact that it was omitted is a concern people have brought up with the current flag today. It seems like a vexiologist would try harder to incorporate those elements into the flag. 
- Another concern I had was some of the unneeded elements I saw in the flag. Indicating we're a border state is hardly important. If not a little unnecessary. Considering New York is the primary access way into Canada, I feel it would be more fitting for their flag. There's only one main bridge to Canada anyways, and it's through Detroit. 
- The white representing snow is kind of iffy. Michigan has 4 seasons, with only 3 months of winter. It isn't something we're exactly known for. 
- I do like the fact that there are two stars representing our two peninsulas. I think that is pretty symbolic, and helpful with all the Superior separatist's who want to break from us. 
- The 26 stars and thirteen stripes is another thing that shouldn't be in a state flag. The whole shield in the center tells more of a story about America. I want a story about Michigan. The American flag already has stripes and stars on it. 
- A lot of our history and heritage is lacking from the flag. I would of appreciated if a little more of our french and German background was displayed on the flag.  I almost felt like the flag could be an alternate of the current US flag, but not an alternate of Michigan's current flag, which I like a lot better than the one my opponent presented. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-09-30 08:11:37
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
I don't accept my opponent's concession - I think he has done an excellent job so far and I think he should continue. 

I was planning on using this round to introduce another alternative flag for Michigan, one which I also believe would be a superior choice than the Detroit one, but in light of my opponent's last round, I'll hold that back and stick to rebuttal instead. 

Portrayal of the Bridge: 
As my opponent agrees, one of the single most defining things about Michigan is the fact that it is divided into two peninsulas. Wait, I'll get a map...
As you can imagine, this natural divide, along with its proximity and shared history with Canada means that holding these two areas together is hugely significant. In fact the border between the USA and Canada in this area, although settled now, was long a point of contention. There are still those in the North who would like to see the state split and the northern part belong to Canada, or at the very least, Wisconsin. 
For this reason, the Mackinac bridge has huge significance. In my proposed flag it not only represents an uncontested marvel of human engineering, and yes, an icon of the state; but also it represents unity between both peninsulas. 

Man made icons like this do have a precedent in vexillology. From actual drawings of structures like in Cambodia or Afghanistan's flags to more stylised or representative images like in Kyrgyzstan and Dominica. In the case of the Mackinac Bridge, and bearing in mind the abstract nature of the representation, I believe it is justified.

Again, my opponent and I agree. Michigan's landscape is hugely important. That's why I have represented it by having the large field of Blue. I should point out that most people would instantly make this connection, while many people will struggle to see the representation of water in his proposed flag. Especially when it is flying, which is what flags are designed to do.
Again, the idea of using the field to represent the landscape has a ton of precedent. Most island nations have a field of blue to represent the sea. The Gambia has a thick blue stripe through the centre of their flag to represent the Gambia river which flows through the centre of their country. 
It's actually very much harder to find a national flag which has an ACTUAL picture of a body of water. 

Border State - Important?
I actually agree with my opponent here. Canada probably has more to fear from Michigan than Michigan has to fear from Canada. The reason I've used the shield to represent the "Defend" aspect is mostly because it is a reference to the existing flag. 
As I mentioned in my previous round, this idea was repeated no less than three times - A shield, "Tubour" (Which means, "I will defend") and the nice man with the big gun. 
Historically, it WAS important that Michigan was a border state. America worked hard to get those Frenchies out and it stands as a reference to that.
Currently, it is STILL important that Michigan is a border state. Not counting Alaska, (because who does?) there are only nine states that form the border with Canada. Due to that fact that Michigan shares a water border, it can be argued that of the nine, it is one of the more important ones. 
Lastly, a shield is just a cool charge to have on a flag. Not as aggressive as a gun, like Mozambique, but cooler than a book, like Mozambique. And yes, it has precedent, Kenya and Swaziland for example.

Snow - Important?
White is one of those naff colours when it comes to flags. It is a good colour because it doesn't fade and it highlights the other elements, but it invaribly stands for something lame like, "Peace" or "Purity". If it makes my opponent feel better, then it can stand for one of those things as well, but I thought it was cool to have it stand for snow. 
When I asked my Michigan friends who live in NZ what they miss about Michigan, they said the snow. My opponent might not appreciate this since he lives there, but having snow fall in winter is not something that everyone has. Winter sports are a huge attraction in the north of Michigan especially. 
One of my friends also said Moose Tracks icecream, which she reckons is the best icecream in the world. So maybe it can stand for that. 

Snow has a precedent in flags with Canada and Poland. As far as I know, there is no precedent for icecream - maybe Michigan can be the first?

26 stars - relevant?
My opponent thinks that the stars and bars shouldn't be on there. It's a Michigan flag, not a USA flag!
I'd like to politely point out that Michigan is IN the USA. Even Texas make a grudging acknowledgment that they are part of a greater whole. (Although, fun flag fact: Texas is the only state that is legally allowed to fly their state flag at the same height as the US one!
The existing flag has a dedicated reference to the USA and so do the vast majority of the other State flags. This is right and proper until such time as Michigan goes it alone, or adopts this as their state flag:
 lol. The Thirteen stripes thing is just a convention. Don't ask me why. I figure they are jealous of all the other states because they're almost all bigger. 

Commemorating the fact that Michigan was the 26th state to join the union is just cool. Tons of other states do this, including-but-not-limited-to Ohio, Tennessee and Indiana. It costs you very little since a lot of people won't immediately associate the stars with holding any special meaning, but it tells us something about Michigan and is a fun fact that will delight and educate. 
For example, kids will find it easier to draw the flag correctly AND remember something interesting about their state at the same time. 

Not enough History:
I disagree. I've already explained that we have used colours to represent some aspects of the history of the state. The Germans are not represented here deliberately because Germany never owned Michigan. 
It is a classic rookie mistake to represent ethnicites in a flag. Very few places do this and get away with it. The problem is that if you do one, you have to do them all. That's why in THIS flag, I've deliberately avoided any reference to the native indian tribes. Originally, I used an Algonquin shield, but in doing so, I would definitely insult some of the other prominent tribes from the area.  
Both the French and to a lesser extent the English influence are noted in the choice of the colours. This is appropriate considering the amount of impact they have today. 

There is a TON of precedent for representing influencial foreign powers in the founding of a state or nation in vexillology. To choose some French ones - Chad comes to mind, as does most of North Africa. Most of central America uses Blue-White-Blue to reference Argentina.  
Using a colour or a layout shows due respect for their initial influence, while sending a clear message that today you are your own people. In this respect, I feel my flag conveys this message much more clearly than my opponent's one. 
I feel like I've effectively rebutted my opponent's points. It should be noted that he hasn't yet contested any of my attacks on HIS flag choice, so those arguments stand. Again I urge him to not concede and I look forward to his next round. 

Vote PRO - we make thoughtful and well reasoned arguments for BREAKFAST! Well, technically not for breakfast as such, more like we make them every day. Not just at breakfast time either. It could be any time. We don't know. They just come to us. Vote PRO!

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-09-30 09:52:08
| Speak Round
nzlockie: Since you've said that you don't want the flag to represent the USA, don't you think you should remove the stars and bars from the detroit flag and also remove the USA seal from the existing Michigan crest?
nzlockie: Those are two major elements that just scream, "USA! USA! USA!".

Return To Top | Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
It was a fun debate about flags, I attacked PRO's suggestion that Michigan adopt Detroit's flag as their own by submitting some points which remain uncontested. 
I then submitted my own kick ass flag for consideration. In the following round, I defended it against all of PRO's attacks. 

PRO then confirmed his concession and I posted a sad face. 

I genuinely enjoyed this debate, and I thank PRO for starting it. Vote Con!

Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-06 20:53:10
| Speak Round

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I'm just working on the shading on the upper lip. It's very tricky to get right.
Posted 2014-09-29 12:08:53
When do you unveil your creation? I'm also curious about "more dragons". That doesn't sound very midwestern.
Posted 2014-09-29 11:37:02
A masterpiece? I got to see this.
Posted 2014-09-28 21:33:23
That's one of them. Mine will be a similar style to this one. But with more dragons.
There are two other ones that are popular alternates. I like them better. But they all pale in comparison to my master piece. You just wait.
Posted 2014-09-28 16:56:21
Is it this one
Posted 2014-09-28 16:49:12
Nah. I think I know the one you're referring to, and that doesn't work for me.
I'm a subscriber to NAVA and I actually voted in that survey you mentioned, although it was a long time ago now. There are at least three strong contenders for a replacement flag, but I reckon all of them suck from a vexillological stand point.

I'm going to come up with a better one. Or lose the debate. It could go either way.
Posted 2014-09-28 16:33:18
I would prefer, but obviously not require that you use a flag currently being proposed as an alternative.
There is a really good flag that could work, but I'm afraid of giving it to you.
Posted 2014-09-28 16:24:53
Oh you bet I'll be introducing a counter proposal! There's no way I'm defending that lame duck of a flag you have now!
Looking forward to this. It'll be a late post though, got to get my colouring pencils out and refresh my Michigan history...
Posted 2014-09-28 16:20:13
Your best bet is to institute a counter proposal. Although that would give you some of the bop.
Posted 2014-09-28 16:11:26
Argh! There goes my main argument! Haha, OK I'll see what I can come up with.
Posted 2014-09-28 15:12:33
NZlockie, it appears my one rule was deleted upon you taking the debate.
It was that the seal of detroit in the center be replaced with the seal of michigan.
Posted 2014-09-28 14:24:02
OKey dokes, let's party.
Posted 2014-09-28 14:09:31
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2014-10-12 04:09:39
9spacekingJudge: 9spaceking
Win awarded to: nzlockie
2 users rated this judgement as good
0 comments on this judgement
2014-10-12 14:47:08
PinkieJudge: Pinkie    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: nzlockie
2014-10-22 10:50:01
lannan13Judge: lannan13    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: nzlockie
1 user rated this judgement as good
0 comments on this judgement

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  • Time to post: 5 days
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