Just How Many Hot Buttons Can Michelle Manhart Touch Off?

Michelle Manhart is in the middle of another controversy, but this one touches many hot button issues.

The Washington Post reports that Manhart, famous for posing for Playboy while still actively serving as a training instructor in the Air Force, was detained by Valdosta State University police when Manhart ran into a group of students trampling an American flag and took it to stop them. The students asked for the flag back, to which Manhart refused. Manhart felt that since the flag had been damaged, it would need to be properly destroyed.

At this point, Valdosta State police arrived and began investigating. Both sides claimed ownership of the flag. The group of students, who were black, began insinuating that the police were giving Manhart preferential treatment because she is white. Police did handcuff Manhart, but no charges were filed.

Manhart’s daughter recorded the event, which has went viral on YouTube. On the recording, Manhart is seen taking the flag off the ground and claiming that the flag belongs to all Americans and should be properly disposed. The group of students, who were at the time protesting racism in America, demanded the flag be returned to them.

Manhart may be harboring alternative motives, however. According to the Air Force Times, Manhart posed nude for Playboy back in 2006. Those photos were published in the February 2007 edition of Playboy. Manhart did notify her immediate supervisor, who in turn notified the proper authorities, and was told that she should be alright. Though there are no explicit rules against posing nude while on active duty, the Air Force did charge her with Article 92 (failure of military regulation) and Article 134 (discrediting the armed forces via misuse of uniform).

Manhart eventually received a reprimand for her actions then. Due to the hardships the whole incident created, Manhart resigned from both the Air Force and the Iowa National Guard. Manhart was given an honorable discharge at the rank of Staff Sergeant. Her discharge left her free to now pursue becoming a celebrity.

Now, free to pursue a modeling career Manhart had been involved with since she was 13, her first work was posing for PETA, or the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as part of their “I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur” campaign. She indeed posed nude, standing behind an American flag, which was draped and flowing down on the floor.

Now, since it was not soiled, the American flag Manhart posed behind need not be disposed of according to the United States Flag Code. However, the perceived hypocrisy is there; if she can use the American flag to protest animal abuse, why can’t students at a college use the flag to protest racism eight years later?

[Image via Wikipedia]