My sole contribution to the great flag conspiracy

Will taking the Union Jack off New Zealand's flag "open the gates of hell" and give John Key absolute power? No. No it won't.

So last night I had a bit of fun on TV3's Story, commenting on the conspiracy doing the rounds in cyberspace about the real reason behind the push to change New Zealand's flag. Go have a watch here, if you're interested. And if you've somehow missed having the original conspiracy emailed/facebooked to you, you can read it here.

I've actually had emails asking me about this for a few weeks now, but had thought addressing the subject beneath such a lofty and prestigious blogsite such as Pundit. I mean, we're not No Right Turn, for heavens sake! But once you get the Attorney-General Chris Finlayson discussing the matter, then it takes on a gravitas that justifies some attention. So here goes.

This theory is nonsense. And by that I mean it literally makes non-sense. It's a collection of words that when put together sound like they might mean something, but when you try and parse that meaning they turn out to reference only invented concepts.

It is the legal equivalent of The Jabberwocky:

T'was brillig, and the slithy toves

did gyre and gymble in the wabe.

Unless you have some Humpty Dumpty figure to decode the special meaning of the words used in the conspiracy theory, you end up like Alice:

"It seems very pretty," she said when she had finished it, "but it's rather hard to understand!" (You see she didn't like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are! "

And that is, I think, what underlies the theory. To co-opt Colbert's maxim, it feels truthy. Those who really, really don't like John Key and believe he'd do anything to achieve his (nebulous) evil aims are told by their gut that it must be correct. And so the fact that the words used are literally non-sense is irrelevant.

It is the opposite end of the spectrum from the theory concocted by a certain (morally) bankrupt blogger whom we do not name that the left-liberal support for the Red Peak flag is because it reflects the red triangles that the Nazi's required political prisoners to wear in concentration camps. Yes, really - there are people that crazy out there.

However, here's a couple of reliable pointers to bear in mind next time you see a theory like this and wonder, "could this be true?"

When the key concept referred to throughout the theory - DUE AUTHORITY - is capitalised, you can be pretty sure there is a reason the person writing it feels it necessary to lexilogically shout at you. Because what they are shouting means nothing.

And when you are told that the effect of this change will be to overide key constitutional legislation that doesn't even exist - the purported Bill of Rights Act 1981 - you can be pretty sure the person writing doesn't know what they are talking about.

And that is all.

[Update: The highly readable Matthew Dentith heroically attempts to unpick the actual claims in the conspiracy here.]