Monday, October 30, 2006

Burn, baby, burn!

The lastest anti-democratic, counter-productive piece of gesture-politics from the cops and the Blair government, in their "war against terrorism at home" (note that I do not put the word terrorism in scare-quotes), is the proposal to ban flag-burning.

It seems that the catalyst was a demonstration outside Westminster Cathederal lat month, when members of the al-Ghuraba Islamist fundamentalist sect harassed churchgoers. What the hell that has to do with flag-burning is anybody's guess; there are already laws in place to deal with harassment. Then there was the February demonstration in London against the Danish cartoons, at which (apparently) Danish flags were burned. But what got most of the media and ther public upset was not flag-burning, but placards saying "Behead those who insult Islam". Again, there are already laws in place to deal with incitement to violence: we don't need more.

And anyway, the right to burn the flag of your own nation - or, indeed, another nation - strikes me as being a pretty good mark of a democracy. It's enshrined, for instance, in the First Amendment to the US constitution, and attempts by the right- wing to overturn it, have been (narrowly) defeated by civil libertarians and consistent democrats and supporters of free speech.

Anyway, better that people burn flags than that they burn people.


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