String ‘Em Up

I don’t like national flags. Given the existence of nation states and the consequent anxieties they create, I think I can understand why people would want to hoist their own flag, but that doesn’t mean I approve. Displaying allegiance to a flag is a form of idolatry, or fetishism, if you want to get kinky about it. As with any sort of fetishism, it’s best conducted in the privacy of your own home in the company of other consenting adults.

Well, at Trinity College, they want to fly the flag all the time (subs required).

The student union president says:

This is Ireland’s leading university and it is funded by the State, and we’re limiting the amount of time you can fly the national flag.

It is hard for a person from outside the madcap world of flag-fetishists to understand why Trinity College needs the national flag flying from it every day. The last time I looked, Trinity College was right in the centre of Dublin, which is in the Republic of Ireland. This means that it is safe to assume that it is Irish. As far as I am aware, there is no danger of it drifting out the Liffey and off to sea towards the waters of continental Europe, where it might become necessary to fly the Irish flag lest it get torpedoed by the French.

Just because something is funded by the state does not mean it needs to carry the national flag either. It is pretty safe to assume that a tricolour atop one of this state’s fine hospital buildings, or even atop of one of its not-so-fine hospital buildings, will have negligible effect on the medical attention provided inside. Medical evidence indicates that flags have zero use in appendectomies or delivering babies.

Is there a special case to be made when it comes to universities? Maybe university students need to be reminded, by the flag hoisted in their midst, that when they are writing that paper on string theory or the gold standard, they are doing so as part of some national endeavour. For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Ireland, perhaps.

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January 2007

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