Google and the Illegal Flower Tribute

At this point, everyone knows about Google’s decision to channel Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” and more or less say “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” when it comes to complying with China’s internet censorship laws.  In its January 12 blog post, Google stated that the company does in fact recognize that leaving search results unfiltered could mean the end of Google.cn and the end of their business in China as whole.

Since the Google announcement last week, Chinese Googlers have traveled to Google China’s headquarters in Beijing to pay tribute to the search engine by laying flowers and lighting candles.  As more Googlers come to pay their respect, they’ve noticed that the previous visitors’ flowers have been removed by alleged “security guards”.  A local security guard has reportedly said that in order to lay flowers, people would need to apply for a permit from the relevant department.  Without said permit, Googlers would be conducting an “illegal flower tribute”.

The phrase “illegal flower tribute” is now a Chinese internet meme.  Though like many things on the internet, it’s blocked by numerous Chinese websites, including Baidu, Google’s biggest competitor in China.  The California based custom goods website Zazzle.com has already jumped on board with multiple shirts sporting the phrase in Chinese (非法献花) as well as a “no flowers” logo for the steep, steep price of $22.95 (157RMB) not including the international shipping that would be required for anyone around you to understand what your shirt even means.