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Friday, June 02, 2006 

Sun-watch: Up yours, health and safety!

You could have seen this one coming. As the country gears up for England's inevitable exit from the World Cup in the quarter finals on penalties, every right thinking person is of course showing their support by sticking up the flag of St. George in as many places as possible.

According to the Sun, those that object are killjoys, and are of course, preaching hated political correctness. That nearly all the original "killjoys" have relented doesn't seem to matter. First of all, those well known politically correct fascists, namely Hampshire police, warned that flags attached to cars could scare wildlife and make horses bolt. They also warned that flags could become detached and turn into "plastic missiles" which could cause serious injury. Perhaps over cautious, but isn't it better to be safe than sorry in some cases? Even so, I'm sure that the Sun's objection to such worries has nothing to do with the fact that they were offering car flags which as well having the flag and England printed across them, also had the Sun's logo clearly visible all over them in their newspapers. It's also reminiscent of their campaign to err, "save Christmas" from politically correct councils which supposedly thought lights and decorations may offend some ethnic minorities. Complete rubbish of course, but it makes for a good campaign and might trick a few punters into buying the paper in the bargain.

The other politically correct killjoys were those other well known socially caring and environmentally friendly guys at err, Tesco, who briefly banned their drivers from flying the England flags in their cabs. They relented after pressure from their drivers and public, especially after it was pointed out that drivers already flew football club flags and had such murals in their cabs. The council in Milton Keynes briefly objected to a man who had painted his house in the style of the St. George's flag, as it was in-between two protected and registered buildings. They also quickly relented. Another case was a school in Stoke-on-Trent, a town which has had problems with the British National Party, which also briefly banned the flying of the flag. Again, they relented.

There is of course a serious element to all of this. There are some who feel threatened by the flag of St.George, whether wrongly or not. Joseph Harker wrote a very ill-judged article for the Guardian a couple of weeks ago which was very close to being racist, made sweeping generalisations and was excessively paranoid. What has been evident about the burst of patriotism and flying of the flag is that it has been almost comprehensively reclaimed from the racist far-right. Understandably, those that remember the bad old days of BNP and National Front fetes are a little concerned about the connotations, but they need not worry. One only has to go into the average Chinese or Indian restaurant to find that they too have put up wallcharts to chart England's progress. If anything, it shows that the nation is coming together, and that the implications of Norman Tebbit's notorious test, that being that nationality could be judged on whether immigrants supported England or Pakistan at the cricket, are becoming a thing of the past.

Even so, why should one have to fly the flag to show their support for England? Anyone with half a brain can do it without having to become one of those idiot goons that Charlie Brooker described as branding themselves and paying for the privilege. You too can support England, while sneering at the likes of the Sun and their demands that anyone who objects to the flag is a politically correct wanker. I object to the Sun on the grounds that it's written by semi-literate morons and owned by a man who does everything he can to avoid paying tax in this country, even though his newspapers and media interests have such a big influence on the political culture and discourse. Will the Sun support me flying an England flag from my window with "FUCK THE SUN AND ALL THAT BUY IT" written on it? That should answer whether or not they truly support the rights of everyone to put whatever things they like on their houses or cars.

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