It's important when we debate an icon that we understand what it is that we are arguing about. It was only very recently, thanks to random_alex, that I discovered the the torch relay is an artefact of the Nazis, who started it for the Berlin Games in 1936. Before this, I was a great fan of this part of the Olympics. I loved to watch the Greek chicks in their goddess finery do the whole lighting of the fire from the sun and all that crap.
Now it is forever tainted and soiled, or rather, now I see it again for what it always was:
As a suitably Aryan-looking German athlete carried the torch into the stadium in Berlin the BBC radio commentator was deeply impressed: "He's a fair young man in white shorts, he's beautifully made, a very fine sight as an athlete."
Another relay runner was Siegfried Eifrig, who had carried the torch as it arrived in the centre of Berlin.
Flanked by huge swastika flags, he then lit a fire on an altar - typical of the pseudo-religious symbolism Nazism relished.
If the torch relay was reinvented after this period, and if it truly is a beacon of light bringing hope of peace to the globe, then protests about the disregard of human rights and the status of Tibet are *appropriate* along its path and furthermore, the extingushing of the flame along the path to Beijing becomes exquisitely poetic.
In 1936 the torch made its way from Greece to Berlin through countries in south-eastern and central Europe where the Nazis were especially keen to enhance their influence.
Given what happened a few years later that route seems especially poignant now.
China wants the path to traverse Tibet.
What exactly are we wanting to preserve here?