On the other hand, we all have our sacred cows . . .

7 02 2006

. . . which probably explains the mystifying events that transpired in an art gallery in Footscray two weeks ago:

About a fortnight ago, a senior constable from Footscray police embarked on an intricate rescue mission, climbing through the window of a cafe and into the Trocadero Art Space next door to remove a burnt and damaged Australian flag displayed on a billboard outside the gallery. The work, titled Proudly Un-Australian, was by artist Azlan McLennan. He has yet to be charged. He has not been told what offence, if any, he committed, and his flag has not been returned.

Elements of the Right in Australia–who, I’m certain, would be firmly on the side of free speech in the Damish newspaper case–have again called for a legal ban on flag-burning. (Surprise, surprise.)

HEATHER EWART: Azlan McLennan still hasn’t been told what he’ll be charged with. But for Federal Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop, his case is a very timely one. She’s planning to introduce a private members’ bill into the Parliament this session to ban Australian flag-burning and can sympathise with the Footscray police action.

BRONWYN BISHOP: I’d say a lot of Australians, including me, would be pleased that the police took some action. But the problem is at the present time it’s not an offence, it’s not a crime.

So . . . when the object of criticism or mockery is Muslim, it’s free speech. When the object of criticism or mockery is Australian (in particular, something dear to the hearts of conservatives), it’s a criminal offence (or should be). Got it.

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