October 11, 2003


Rob Corr wrote a letter to the West Australian recently on the subject of flag-burning. Leave aside the ethics of his ensign-incinerating hobby, and consider instead the ecological impact: a burning flag must release all manner of smoky toxins into the precious environment.

You’d expect, on this basis, that environmentalists would be opposed to flag-burning. What if the trend becomes more widespread? Massive flag bonfires may soon be regular events. Associated pole-burning will only add to the environmental hazard.

The dangers of secondhand flag smoke, of course, are well documented.

So it’s something of a surprise -- even to Rob -- that his letter has resulted in a response from the Western Australian Greens seeking his membership. Apparently the torching of fabric in urban settings is something with which the Greens agree. Burn on, freaks!

UPDATE. Tim Dunlop appears to have set himself on fire. Way to rant, Mr Ranty! Arnold’s win has destabilised him.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 11, 2003 02:58 AM

Kind of like the ELF assholes setting SUVs on fire, ignoring the fact that that causes a lot more environmental damage than operating the damn things.

Posted by: Sauron at October 11, 2003 at 03:13 AM

What if the flags are made of wool? Imagine all of the sheep that would need to be abused in order to keep up with the demands of the flag torchers.

Fortunately, the flags I own (for display, not ignition) are usually made of nylon or some other petrochemical-based material, so I only have to worry about opening up the Alaska wilderness for drilling to replace them.

Posted by: Dave T. at October 11, 2003 at 03:33 AM

Big Auto needs to develop a flag combustion based hybrid SUV for environmentalists and the world.

Posted by: Charles at October 11, 2003 at 05:58 AM

Flag burners offend me when its our flag they are burning, but I must say, I would not want government to be involved in preventing or punishing flag burning.

We private citizens on the other hand are perfectly entitled to avoid business and other contact with such individuals.

We need to establish a privately operated register of flag burners (www.flagburners.com.au?) where these idiots' names can be stored, along with any statements attributed to them in the media and elsewhere. That way, we individuals can exercise our rights of free association by not doing business with them, not associating with them, not employing them, et cetera. Further, we could use this register to publicise the names of any businesses that employ such haters of Australia, and we private citizens can then choose to spend our private dollars elsewhere.

All in the interests of free speech of course.

Posted by: GeoffM at October 11, 2003 at 06:46 PM

Tim, I have to correct you. You refer to my "ensign-incinerating hobby". I have never burned a flag (Australian, American or otherwise). I can't see myself doing it any time soon, either. On the other hand, and no doubt like you, I respect other people's right to burn flags -- as long as it's their flag, and the act doesn't pose a safety risk to those around them.

(Cue boring jokes about it posing a safety risk to themselves...)

Posted by: Robert at October 12, 2003 at 12:42 AM

Re: Tim Dunlop's rant

Agree or disagree (or just not understand wtf he was talking about), you have to admit that was one hell of a run-on sentence. I bow to the crushing of the Oppressive Rules of Style.

Posted by: Ken Summers at October 12, 2003 at 02:28 AM

I gave Mr. Dunlop some free periods.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at October 12, 2003 at 08:15 AM

I recall back in 1996/97 New Scientist that the KKK was banned from burning crosses, not on hate speech/incitement grounds, but because of violation of environmental statutes. So why crosses and not flags?

Posted by: Clem Snide at October 12, 2003 at 06:10 PM