The Department of Homeland Security is asking the public to stop spreading images of hybrid Confederate-LGBT rainbow flags, as they can create a toxic, potentially deadly blend of obscene moral outrage and unwarranted hysteria.
The public is also being asked to avoid attempting to create such images on their computers, no matter how cute or cheeky the idea may seem.
Officials don’t yet understand why the two flag designs, on their own, can cause such visceral reactions, but they say it’s important not to take chances by recklessly transmitting a combination of the two.
Burt Thrash, a car salesman from Jacksonville, Florida, was reportedly the first victim of a hybrid flag. After getting it forwarded to him in an email last weekend, he allegedly broke into hives, started speaking in tongues, and ran out of his house wearing nothing but underwear. Police found him two days later in St. Augustine, 40 miles away, where he was telling passersby that he was being chased by agendas.
And on Tuesday, Andrea Burr, a blogger and activist from San Francisco, nearly burned down her apartment building when her dreadlocks became engulfed in flames after she noticed a hybrid flag on a relative’s Facebook profile. Neighbors reported smelling smoke and hearing Burr shouting “cultural appropriation” before fire alarms caused the building to be evacuated.
So far, the number of injuries caused by hybrid flags has been limited, but experts say that any controversial developments in the news may change that. In a worst-case scenario, they say, states would refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples at precisely the same moment the Justice Department requests some states to remove the Confederate flag from buildings and monuments.
“If pictures of these mutant flags go viral, the resulting hurt feelings could create a giant vortex of moral indignation so violent that every last person in the country would be sucked in and destroyed,” said Sarah Fong, a professor of outrage physics at Duke University.
Fong is best-known for her research into how anger created by internet trolling is contributing to climate change. Her theories have been proved in experiments using UC Berkeley’s Large Offense Collider in which elementary choler particles were smashed together at high speeds.
“Pragmatism, rationality and the ability to ignore visual stimuli that displeases you could disappear entirely from the social fabric, leaving Americans hysterically screaming at each other about occult symbols while the entire landmass of North America sinks into the ocean,” Fong said.