The state of Mississippi is in the process of selecting a new flag after the governor signed a bill six weeks ago that finally jettisoned the Confederate battle emblem from the state banner. The removal will make Mississippi the last state to remove the emblem from its flag. It was a contentious issue in the Deep South state where conservative white voters wield power as they please and a decision Republican Gov. Tate Reeves emphasized was aimed at allowing Mississippi to reconcile and “move on.” But move on to what? As of Wednesday, we know at least one option that can be ruled out: the Great Mosquito flag.
The Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag is in charge of the selection process, which received nearly 3,000 submissions in the first phase of the redesign process. The panel narrowed its list of potential candidates down to 147 options, which it made public on its website this week. There were some tough choices to be made to see who advanced to round two, and CNN reports that the commission had to cut a number of flags that featured “guitars, beer cans, Largemouth bass, a Jesus meme and the Southeastern Conference logo.”
One unexpected entrant that did appear in round two was a real beaut that featured a giant mosquito capable of sucking 12 gallons of blood per hour (probably). The design isn’t technically verboten: The only two rules are the redesigned flag can’t include the Confederate emblem, and, this being the South, it must include the phrase “In God, We Trust.” The “mosquito flag” is certainly an original take on the state’s past and went up on the commission’s website for the public to weigh in on. But it wasn’t to be, and the flag was quickly yanked. “The mosquito flag advanced to Round Two due to a typo in a list of flag numbers submitted by one commissioner,” the commission said in a statement Tuesday. “That commissioner has requested that the flag be removed from the Round Two gallery, and the [Mississippi Department of Archives & History] staff has complied.”
Looking to avoid another Boaty McBoatface situation, the mosquito flag was added to the dustbin of history along with renderings of largemouth bass. The state is (thankfully) not holding an online vote on the flag, but the nine commissioners overseeing the process will present the five finalists online for a public comment period starting this week. The commissioners are free to ad-lib, according to the Associated Press, and “could accept one of the public submissions, combine elements from different designs or start from scratch and draw their own.” They will then put their final selection to the voters of the state in a statewide referendum on Nov. 3.