Protesting in secret

Just noticed this on the BBC’s ‘Have Your Say’ about flag-burning (which features occasional moments of sense breaking out amongst all the usual ‘ban anything that might offend me’ comments):

Will these proposals risk driving political protests underground?

Leaving aside the question of what the point of a secret protest might be, one wonders what sort of person would find themselves going to an ‘underground’ protest. Are there members of the SWP so committed to protesting that they’ve actually become addicted to it? Do they get the shakes if they can’t wave a placard about every so often? Do they start hallucinating bored police officers standing at the side of the road wondering what they’re going to spend this bit of overtime on? Do they try and get a methadone-esque shallow hit by putting on an old steward’s tabard and pretending they’re about to go and lead a march?

Maybe it’ll be more like rave culture with protestors milling around motorway service stations and car parks on a Saturday morning eagerly waiting for one of them to get a message from ‘Dave – you know, Dave, Sarah’s old workmate’s friend, he knows where it’s going off today’ that’ll direct them through back roads and byways to a deserted field where they’ll be able to march up and down while either covering their faces with cloth or burning it until the police arrive.

Or is the London Riot Re-enactment Society secretly the organising hub for the underground protest movement, pre-emptively organising its cover story?

Because we don’t have enough stupid laws already

Ian Blair must resign says Alex. But don’tworry if he does go, because Tarique Ghaffur is putting in a bid to replace him as the senior police office most likely to suggest stupid things. Yes, because coming up with plans to stop the growing menace of flag-burning and the wearing of balaclavas on demonstrations should be the main priority of our police forces. I’m sure we’re all finding it impossible to walk down the street at the moment because of the epidemic of people burning coloured pieces of cloth.

Jock suggests a National Flag Burning Day though also notes that:

It might be funny if the call didn’t come a few days before half the country goes out and burns a token Catholic, or, as Lewes sometimes does, an effigy of the Pope.

Though it would be interesting to note how any such law would define a flag. Say, for example, I had something that looked like a Union Flag, but the red diagonals were in the middle of the white ones, not slightly off-centre – is that a flag, or something that just happens to look very similar to one? What about a Stars and Stripes with 49 stars or 14 stripes, or a Tricolore where the three colours weren’t of equal size? What if the newspaper I use to light my bonfire with has a flag printed on it, or has a photo of a flag within – does that count?

And what if I burn the flag of a police force to protest about the fact that it’s their job as servants of the people to enforce the laws we already have, not demand new ones?

Alternate polling methods

Despite the low number of posts here recently, I still get large amounts of spam comments to clean up. It’s relatively easy to do, and it can occasionally be interesting to see what it is they’re trying to pimp.

One thing that they’ve started doing more and more is attempting to link to their poker/prescription drug/hot sex site using some other term that people are likely to be searching for, and one word I’ve noticed appearing quite a few times in the lists recently is ‘Hillary’ in what’s obviously an attempt to capitalise on the fact that lots of people are searching for information on Hillary Clinton, either for her Senate re-election bid this year, or her potential Presidential bid in two years time.

But, it strikes me that by 2008, we’ll see a lot of other names entering the spammers’ lists – McCain, Giuliani, Kerry et al – and, in the spirit of the silly season, it occurs to me that someone ought to keep track of which names are most popular and compare whether spam is more accurate at predicting election results – in terms of which candidate is more popular – than polling.

Yes, when this is the quality of my thought, you can see why there’s been such a long silence here.