A little bit of politics?

This is CCTV footage of a man with a fire extinguisher putting out the eternal flame at Melbourne’s Shine of Remembrance at 8:20 yesterday morning, and is being reported by both press and broadcast media as vandalism.

A man who snuffed out the Eternal Flame at the Shrine of Remembrance could face additional penalties under laws designed to give the war memorial special protection from vandals.


A HEARTLESS vandal used a fire extinguisher to put out the Eternal Flame at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne yesterday morning.

Police have released CCTV footage of the man and want the public to help track him down.

That second quote there is The Herald Sun being so keen to help catch the guy that they put the rest of the article, including the man’s description, behind the paywall.


For what it’s worth he’s apparently Caucasian, early 40s, slim build, about 170cm tall (or near enough 5’7″ in old money), and wearing a dark jumper, and I would say that he’s also a prick for doing that. But I can’t help feeling that if he’s caught this is going to turn out to be something a bit more complex than simple vandalism. Take another look at the guy: does he look like a vandal? Is he acting like a vandal? And was what he did a wanton act of property destruction that’s typical of vandals?

To my mind it’s no to all three – he looks like a guy on his way to work, which at that time on a weekday he may well have been, and he behaves like someone who’s thought the act out in advance and gone out with the intention of putting the flame out, nothing more and nothing less. It’s vanishingly unlikely that he just happened to find a full fire extinguisher lying around in the street and decided to use it on the flame, and if he had and had also been your stock vandal you’d have expected the extinguisher to have ended up being hurled at something breakable. Nor does his dress or age seem like that of someone committing a random act of vandalism. Instead it seems more likely that he’s decided to put the flame out for some reason, gone and bought an extinguisher in advance – one that’s large enough to do the job but small enough to go in a bag – for that specific purpose, and then quite cooly gone about doing just that. It’s also something that will cause outrage but not any permanent damage. Didn’t leave the extinguisher behind either, I notice.

This may legally be vandalism but I suspect the motivation for it is something a bit different, and wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be some kind of fucked up anti-war or anti-capitalism protest. And I say fucked up not just because I wouldn’t agree with it as a form of protest but because people who do something designed to provoke outrage from the general public in order to draw attention to whatever cause they’re into normally do so with the expectation, if not the intention, of arrest. The Femen protestors in the Ukraine who keep showing up at public events and getting their tits out, that muppet who swam in the Thames while the university boat race was on, people who chain themselves to things, they all do it with the aim of getting lots of attention and accept the risk of arrest as a fair price for it. What they don’t do is calmly flash boobs in a random direction when nobody’s around or swim in rivers on a completely unimportant day, and then equally calmly leave the scene. I just can’t help feeling that this guy was getting something personal off his chest, and I’d be astonished if all of this hasn’t already occurred to Victoria Police’s investigators.

He may be a dickhead for what he’s done but he seems unlikely to be your typical vandal, and I’d have thought it’s at least possible that that difference might lead police to him. So why is the media happy simply to paint him as a common or garden vandal and run off some fairly brief copy about it, some of which is behind paywalls anyway?

Posted on May 26, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree that it’s far more likely to be a political statement of some kind, but of what? Could be anti-war, but hey, maybe he’s anti-global-warming!

    – MJM

    • Didn’t occur to me when I posted but I suppose he might just be nuts. Supposedly the police now know who he is so things may become clearer in time.

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