It is hard to know where to begin with Raedwald's sobering post. Did you ever hear of a more sinister concept than for "insult of the State, Nation or State symbols" to be a crime? Yet Raedwald and other bloggers who have picked this up are under a misapprehension. The EU Council Decision of 20th January creates no new offences. All of the ludicrous examples he cites are existing crimes in one or more EU jurisdictions. The innovation is for the EU's national police forces to share the data. Libertarian as I am, I can't say I have a problem wtih that. The story simply makes me wonder, yet again, whether I want to be in an ever-closer union with people who think calling Nicholas Sarkozy a conceited little plonker should be a crime. To be fair, they probably also wonder about union with a country which fines people for not sorting their garbage and then piles it all back into an unsorted heap.
Pessimists will fear that this is a first step to unifying the criminal code across the EU. What a disaster that would be. The overlapping Venn diagrams of European criminality would be coloured in to make a single mass. Almost everything would be unlawful. Wouldn't it be wonderful however, if we could unify European criminal law by adopting a different approach? What if only the "overlapping area" (i.e. only those actions which are criminal everywhere in the EU) were to be crimes? It would be a new European dawn of liberalism. A vain idea but - I am sure you will agree - a beautiful one.
Old Holborn's response, meanwhile, is characteristically robust. He has filmed himself burning the Marian flag of treachery and posted the video to his blog, urging all men and women of goodwill to do likewise. I am tempted, but in Russia I think it might just make me popular.