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There was a major battle over the Pledge of Allegiance on Tuesday during a meeting of the [checks notes] Nelson County Fiscal Court in Kentucky. The battle involved a shouting match between an elected official and a local Republican leader and involved a cop having to step in when things got too heated.

Totally normal behavior.

It started out innocuously enough. As you can see in the video below from the Nelson County Gazette, Nelson County Republican Party chairman Don Thrasher made a request for the Court to begin all meetings with a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

After calling Rep. Ilhan Omar “vehemently anti-American” with no justification, Thrasher falsely said Omar was responsible for the city of St. Louis Park (in her congressional district) not saying the Pledge at meetings. Omar had nothing to do with that decision. The city eventually reverted back to saying the Pledge after conservative outrage.

Anyway, Thrasher told that lie, claimed the Pledge was a “unifying thing” and “not divisive” (which are also lies), then urged them to pass an ordinance he wrote adding the Pledge to meetings.

YouTube video

The members of the Fiscal Court listened patiently… and then one of them chimed in:

Magistrate Eric Shelburne, who served in the Army in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm and in Germany, said he appreciates the flag and what it stands for, but that he was insulted by Thrasher’s comments.

“I don’t have to reaffirm my vows to my wife every morning,” he said. “When I come in here, I feel like we’re doing the county’s business.”

Shelburne said he and each magistrate pledged their loyalty to their country when they took the oath of office, and he didn’t think it was necessary to do it every day.

“So the fact that you bring this into a court is a little bit offensive to me,” Shelburne said. “I just want to put that out there. It makes me think you’re questioning my patriotism.

Shelburne is right, of course. Conservatives always question the patriotism of people who don’t want to participate in pseudo-patriotic rituals. They hate when people sit during the Pledge, when an athlete takes a knee during the National Anthem, when a politician doesn’t wear a flag pin, etc. Being a patriot doesn’t matter to them. They like optics more than action.

In any case, Thrasher was furious at being called out… and thus began a shouting match between the two men. One magistrate stepped in and said the men could take things “outside” after the meeting — in other words, argue later, but let’s get to work now.

They didn’t take it outside. They just waited until the end of the meeting to continue arguing to the point where the sheriff had to step in front of them before punches were thrown.

At the end of the meeting, Thrasher approached Shelburne to talk about the issue. The discussion quickly became heated again, with Thrasher admitting he was now indeed questioning Shelburne’s patriotism.

“That’s an insult to me, and its an insult to my service,” Shelburne replied.

Nelson County Sheriff Ramon Pineiroa and Nelson County Jailer Buck Snellen stepped forward to separate the two men. Thrasher then left, telling Sheburne that “the 55 voters you barely won by really appreciated that, brother.”

The ordinance wasn’t passed. So at least the Republican who was cosplaying as a patriot lost.

By the way, when Thrasher was elected the GOP chair for the county in December, this is what he said:

Thrasher said he wants to work to “eliminate this divide we have in this country along political lines and engage in civil discourse with our opponents.”

Civil discourse apparently means shouting at veterans for not being patriotic enough.

(Thanks to Brian for the link)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.