Symbol of the People

Recent reports in the Australian media of university students creating flag burning kits to sell as a way of protesting government policy have sparked the debate about whether flag burning should be a criminal offense and highlighted people's misguided understanding of what the Australian Flag represents.

First and foremost our flag is not a symbol of a specific government. It represents us. No matter how far we travel an Aussie flag helps connect us to other Aussies abroad and it reminds us of home. It is a symbol of the people.

Some say that our flag represents freedom. Quite often people who say this will attempt to deny you of your freedom to burn the flag.

Australia prides its self on being a tolerant society. It is our ability to tolerate criticism without resorting to violent retaliation that helps makes us strong. It's one of the things that hold us together as a community. I don't want to be represented by violent individuals that can't handle criticism. i can't support violence even when I agree with the perpetrators point of view.

I certainly don't encourage flag burning - especially not as a way of protesting government policy. It's misguided and divides people who are proud of their country. At the same time I can't support making flag burning a criminal offense. If our flag does represent freedom then not being able to burn it is as 'un-Australian' as you can get.

I saw on the news that the university students were banned from selling their kits by the university administration. I also saw images of so called 'patriots', right in the faces of the students, verbally bashing them about how many people died under our flag so they could have the 'freedom' they enjoy. Two totally disappointing responses.

Impressive though, was the response of some Liberal party student representatives, who took it upon themselves to sell water to people who may need it to extinguish potentially dangerous burning flags. Nice to see a sense of humour. How very Australian is that.

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