The Americans have been known to legally prohibit the burning of their own flag and there are some who would like this to be the case again. But the present legal situation rests on a sensible Supreme Court decision from 1989, which held that the burning of the American flag was a form of free expression protected under the First Amendment.
Ã‚Â I’m wondering if Britain is the only country in the world where anyone would think it was a sensible idea to ban the burning of any country’s flag? It’s not quite in keeping with our traditions but typical of what we are becoming under NuLabour:
“Mr Malik, MP for Dewsbury, said burning a flag was clearly an incitement to violence practised by a small number of “thugs” who get to the front of demonstrations. “They hijack what are very legitimate and peaceful protests. “Not only do they spoil it, but they have the potential to turn it into something much more sinister.””
Note the now familiar coupling of nannying and the notion that the state should intervene because of what people might do. It’s the latter I fear is turning into something more sinister. It was left to Massoud Shedjareh of the Islamic Human Rights’ Commission to make the liberal point. He said whether it was incitement or not depended on the circumstances, but police already had powers to deal with it.
But as we already know, this government cleaves to the managerialist logic of preferring new laws above enforcing the ones we already have.