Granted, this is an ideal circus for talkback radio to immerse itself in – RSL rethinks flag idea after threats. I don’t want to try and say the offence that the person committed – in the height of the Cronulla riots – was justified, or acceptable. Burning or defacing an Australian flag is a bad thing to do.
I was a bit surprised to hear the RSL club’s idea of having the person march in the Anzac Day march with a flag, although, on reflection, it’s certainly an idea that would help this person to better respect for the Australian flag, and especially the people who fought in wars under the flag.
With the RSL’s idea hitting the media, it was no surprise to hear that people are upset about the proposal – people being upset makes for good radio.
The real issue, I think, is the way that those people who are upset with the RSL club’s decision have decided to express their disagreement.
“The RSL have received calls from a number of people threatening to identify this young man and, if he marches on Anzac Day, to humiliate him by throwing missiles at him,” Mr Rowe said. “These threats are not helpful to teaching this young man to respect Australian values.”
The whole flag burning incident arose in the midst of the Cronulla riots; these came about because a group of people were worried that – to paraphrase – the violent tendencies of a particular group of Australians would spoil a part of Australia.
Now it sounds to me like Australians are using mob violence (or threats thereof) to ensure a way of life that is free from mob violence. Am I over-simplifying, or should there be some kind of penalty for threatening violence against other people, even if they’re somehow defending the flag?