We at Sterne are patriots - or, as Dr. Johnson had it, "scoundrels" - so it pains us that organisers of the Sydney Big Day Out are discouraging concert goers from bringing along Australian flags out of fear of nationalist violence. Not only is this "discouragement" unAustralian, it is also downright unrock. If popular music is about anything, it's about conformity, obedience, and respect for the values of the broader community. Waving an Aussie flag while moshing is a time-honoured tradition. Back when I could be bothered attending music festivals, the first thing I packed, after my cigarettes, pre-rolled joints, two litre bottle of Southern Comfort and Coke, ripped flanelette shirt, earplugs, glow-in-the-dark condoms, amphetamines (strictly for dealing), giant inflatable novelty hand, toilet roll, bong, fake ID, counterfeit tickets, and fifty dollars stolen from my mum's purse, was an Australian flag or two. Who died and gave BDO promoter Ken West the right to deprive thousands of music-loving youngsters of the opportunity to do the same?
What Ken and his organisation of anti-Australian fascists are forgetting is the innate respect Australians have for their flag. All Australian school children, even the really stupid ones, learn that the dignity of the flag is paramount [Fig. 1].
A special subject, Flag Fundamentals (Non-Semaphore), teaches Australian high school students the basics of flag protocol, based on Sir Stephen Bloke's 1957 pamphlet, The Australian Flag: A Guide for Young People and Foreign Types. Chief amongst Bloke's prescriptions is that "the flag ought not touch the ground, lest its purity be sullied by the filthy soil of the country it represents". Flag-bearers who find themselves bearing a particularly large Australian flag - and it's a case of the larger the better, really - are therefore welcome to climb atop the shoulders of their countrymen [Fig. 2]. If no countrymen are available, the bloodied, unconscious body of a non-countrymen is acceptable.
Bloke stipulates that two flags may not be flown from the same flagpole; however, multiple flags may be displayed as part of a sleeveless vest/small-flag-on-plastic-stick/cape combination [Fig. 3]. Flags may also be worn as a skirt substitute, but only (Bloke insists) "by white women of sufficient hotness of arse as not to denigrate the flag with unsightly fat deposits" [Fig. 4].
When indulging in fist-pumping, wog-pummelling, or other exuberant hand/arm manoeuvres (eg. Nazi salute), the flag may be set aside on an appropriate receptacle (eg. the bonnet of a Kingswood; wife) or employed as an extension of one's body [Fig. 5]. The flag must, however, remain in sight at all times, "lest," to quote Sir Stephen, "it fall into the hands of communists, homosexuals, communist homosexuals, and/or other flag-desecrating enemies of democracy and the missionary position."
While on Australian soil, the Australian flag must be flown higher than that of other nations. A rare example of Australians breaching flag protocol is shown below [Fig. 6], where the Australian flag is flown considerably lower than the Nando, the official flag of Portugal. One can only hope that the flag bearers in question quickly pulled said foreign standard to the ground and set it on fire. Bloody wogs and their flame-grilled peri-peri nonsense. What's wrong with a good old lamb chop?
Such infringements are thankfully rare. The majority of Australians just want to show their pride by respectfully waving their nation's flag, or respectfully wearing it as a cape, or (respectfully) in the form of a bikini or souvenir shopping bag, or by forcing people to swear allegiance to it on pain of being beaten and humiliated, this last merely an ad-hoc recreation of Australia's new naturalisation ceremony. Ken West's fears are unfounded and, need I repeat, unAustralian. As Sir Stephen Bloke put it almost fifty years ago, "The Australian is a born patriot, naturally respectful of his flag, and deadly to those who would scorn it." If I may offer a contemporary spin by way of paraphrasing a legendary Aussie band, to those about to rock, I salute you - but only if you're draped in the good old Aussie flag.
(Photo sources: 1, 2 & 5, SMH; 3, 4 & 6, Warren Hudson.)