Flag-burning decision confirms the right to protest


Supreme Court’s quashing

of Valerie Morse’s conviction for burning a New Zealand flag has confirmed the right to protest as guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.

The Court found that the district court judge hearing the case had misunderstood the meaning of offensive behaviour. The Supreme Court said that just provoking anger, disgust or outrage among those present is not enough, but that the behaviour must also give rise to a “disturbance of public order.”

Personally, I have never been in favour of flag-burning. It is much better to focus on protesting against policies of a government. Flags represent the people of a nation, not the government. On some demonstrations I’ve been on American flags have been burnt, which has only given ammunition those wanting to present the protesters as “anti-American”, rather than simply being against particular polices of the American government.