Thursday, February 02, 2006

Flag Burning for Democracy & Danes Singled Out

There has been a bit of good old fashioned offensive flag burning going around in the past few days. You couldn't help but notice the in-your-face offensive action on 26 January, Australia Day when a disgraceful Aboriginal protest in Brisbane not only climaxed with the burning of the Australian flag on our day of national celebration but to add class to the occasion the gathered rat bag Aborigines spat on the flaming flag. This action captured in all its vulgarity on TV failed to make the printed press with any pictures (if I'm wrong please let me know where it is on-line). Seems a bit of press PC editing. A great way to help the rest of Australia understand and sympathise with their feelings about white settlement and civilisation of Australia.

Clover Moore used the Australia Day ceremony in Hyde Park to tell all gathered that to Aboriginal people Australia Day is not a day of celebration but marks the day of invasion. Well it is always helpful when Clover Moore presumes to represent the views of the 'community' and in particular a very diverse community - many of whom disassociated from the 'sorry day' agenda and Brisbane flag burning. Much like she did when Aboriginal radicals squatted and set up a camp network in Victoria Park in 2004 declaring it a sovereign nation - abusing Clover's naivete and resulting in a secret deal and midnight Council eviction.

The Australia Day ceremony was climaxed by a dog fight metres from eCouncillor and triggered by an off lead pit-bull terrier ironically owned by an Aboriginal man (again not reported in the press) - the nasty dog fight was settled by a dozen police with battens and capsicum spray that drifted across the gathered crowd. eCouncillor's picture taken immediately after the fight, of the pit-bull owner forced to sit by police as the savage dog is removed from his possession. Clover Moore might overlook the diversity in views (if they don't agree with hers) but the Prime Minister can understand diversity when he dismissed the Ausie flag burning by Aborigines as an offensive action but not representative of mainstream Aboriginal views. A very mature political response. The PM rightly went on to oppose any laws to outlaw flag burning.

Laws against flag burning raise mixed emotions and responses particularly in the nation with more flags burnt than any other - USA. State laws to outlaw flag burning have been struck down by the US Supreme Court as violating the first amendment protecting the rights to free speech. As a traditional liberal who views freedom of speech as a fundamental plank of democracy, I support that view. But what happens in Australia if at an anti-war rally the Australian flag is incinerated? Would that be sedition under the new laws? and what if the religious right burnt 'rainbow gay flags' in an anti Mardi Gras protest? would that trigger NSW anti-vilification laws? If an Aboriginal flag were set alight by far right activists? What of the young man gaoled for 3 months for stealing an Australian flag and setting it alight during the shameful riots in Cronulla. Where does freedom of speech end and inciting violence begin? Burning any flag whilst insensitive and offensive is a freedom of speech right and generally serves only to polarise opinion and often isolate the provokers.

Talking of over sensitivity - the Muslim nations attacking Denmark for the publishing of several cartoons offending their religious sensitivity are clearly an over-reaction frenzy with another agenda.

"We have from the beginning said that these drawings are making Muslims angry and hurt. But we honestly never thought that this case would develop to the point where Danish products in the Middle East are being threatened to this extent," Ahmed Abu Laban, a prominent imam in Denmark, said in a statement.
Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador to Denmark, Libya has shut down its embassy, and Iraq's Foreign Minister has summoned Denmark's ambassador over the cartoons.
Interior ministers from 17 Arab countries have called on the Danish Government to "punish the authors", while thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated in Gaza City and Tel Aviv.

burning of the Danish flag, withdrawal of ambassadors (why would you re-admit the Libyans anyway?) and painful economic boycott of Danish exports has more to do with Denmark's significant role in Iraq and the Danish government's strong proactive management of the 200,000 Muslims in their essentially Lutheran mono-culture. Publishing a few cartoons in the independent and free press that make an extreme comment about another culture is no more offensive than burning flags. Reports that a fatwa has been issued against Danish troops in Iraq are proof of the extremist agenda.

"I can confirm that we've heard about the fatwa from a reliable source in Iraq ... so we believe it's true," Defence Minister Soeren Gade's spokesman Jacob Winther told AFP.
The report came amid rising Muslim anger over 12 cartoons published in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten last September depicting the Prophet Mohammed. The crisis is threatening Danish trade relations with the Muslim world.
Danish flags have been burnt, products have been boycotted and threats of violence have been issued against Scandinavians in Muslim countries in recent days.

When President Bush visited Copenhagen last July left wing Danish protesters burnt both the US and Danish flags. A debate ensued about laws against burning flags but the Danes came down on the side of freedom of speech. It's a shame that other cultures and nations are not (more?) tolerant.

This morning we awoke to some spine from the Europeans and a stand to protect freedom of speech.

Europeans back Danes over press freedom
By Molly Moore in ParisFebruary 3, 2006

Religious uproar … an Egyptian supermarket is stripped of Danish products.Photo: AFP
NEWSPAPERS across Europe have reprinted cartoons ridiculing the prophet Muhammad, saying they wanted to support the right of Danish and Norwegian papers to publish caricatures that have ignited anger among Muslims....

France Soir said it had published the "incriminating caricatures" because "no religious dogma can impose itself on a democratic and secular society".
The newspaper's front-page headline declared: "Yes, we have the right to caricature God", accompanied by a cartoon depicting religious figures from the Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Christian faiths on a cloud. The Christian is shown saying, "Don't complain, Muhammad; we've all been caricatured here."

We await eagerly the publication of the cartoons in Australia....

See the Danish cartoons causing all the fuss in the Muslim world here.


Toby said...

The "young man gaoled for 3 months for stealing a Australian flag and setting it alight during the shameful riots" was charged with destruction of someone else's property, nothing more, nothing less. No free speech issue enters the discussion in that case (unless free speechers assert that freedom of speech entitles one to destroy other's property, which they don't, well not the sane ones anyway).

The MMEA yobbo who burnt that flag should have bought his own. That is not a crime (unless in such a circumstance that it constituted a public endangermetn).

The fact that that man had no justification for doing it other than making an offensive point was certainly relevant to sentencing (just as manslaughter attracts a different sentence to wilful murder - and just as why hate crime legislation is offensive and illogical, but motive for the crime is relevant to sentencing). 3 months will serve him right.

Blista said...

The whole free speech Vs. the knot I get in my stomach when some little shit burns the flag is an issue that leaves me torn. Although I will not live in a place that will not allow free speech, if my son ever burnt a contries flag while making a statement, political or otherwise, I would be, in a word, gutted. Do we not teach these kids English in school? Make your point using quick wit, an astonishing array of facts or a ton of lies. Dont burn the flag.

The yobbo who was jailed should have been given three months community service mowing lawns at RSL Clubs. That would teach him that sometimes actions have consequences far beyond the ones that we intend.