While the U.S. and South Carolina state flags that fly above the South Carolina state house were lowered to half-mast today in mourning for the nine victims of last night’s shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, the Confederate flag on display outside the building is still flying high and proud. Why? Because the bizarre display of racist symbolism is so closely protected that it would be impossible to move it without a legislative vote.

According to Raycom Media reporter Will Whitson, the continued display is something of a technical issue: it’s affixed to the top of the flagpole, not on a pulley, meaning that it would be difficult if not impossible to lower it halfway without taking it down altogether—a proposition that presents its own set of problems. State law demands that the government “ensure that the flags authorized above shall be placed at all times as directed in this section and shall replace the flags at appropriate intervals as may be necessary due to wear,” writes Schuyler Kropf at the Post and Courier. In other words, the flag can’t be pulled down until it’s voted on.

The state of South Carolina so reveres the memory of its armed defense of American slavery that lowering the Confederate Battle Flag that flies at full staff outside of its state house would require an official act of government—even after a racist murderer killed a state lawmaker and eight other residents in cold blood.

Image via eyeliam/Flickr. Contact the author at andy@gawker.com.