What should be done with people who tried to provoke the government and Beijing by waving the British colonial flag during protests? Absolutely nothing. Lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung has a closet full of Che Guevara T-shirts. No one would waste time trying to tell him to wear something else. At least the British are for free trade and an open economy, not murderous Marxists like the revolutionary.
People do all sorts of idiotic and offensive things and the worst you can do is to provoke them further by making them feel important instead of ridiculous.
But Lu Ping, a former mainland official in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs, took the bait and denounced the young protesters. He said they should leave the city if they disliked it so much. Now Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has appealed to people not to wave the colonial flag.
Perhaps officials have a bigger concern. The flag-waving is part of a nascent movement that is either calling for independence or full autonomy for Hong Kong - its members can't seem to make up their minds what they really want.
"These guys who advocate for Hong Kong independence are sheer morons," Lu said. "Deprived of support from the mainland, Hong Kong would be a dead city."
His former deputy, Chen Zuoer, earlier called for firm action from the authorities. "The rise of a pro-independence force in Hong Kong is spreading like a virus," he said.
Didn't Confucius say silence is golden? If there were ever such a time for retired old men to be silent, this is it. There is no sign the movement is anything but the asinine rumblings of a few malcontents and juveniles.
As a Chinese citizen, I too find the flag-waving absurd, offensive and stupid. Those who think tiny Hong Kong could lead the rest of China into the land of milk and honey understand neither its own insignificance nor the nation's millennial history and civilisation.
But let me do a Voltaire routine here, not that I am comparing my puny intellect to this great man of letters. Let us defend their right to be ridiculous.
Most sensible people in Hong Kong realise their absurdity and treat them as a joke. But as the saying goes, "it takes a whole village" to convince them of their idiocy, not complaints from a few retired officials.