t-shirt politics, satire and free speech
There is no sublime in this ridiculousness. ABC Radio 774 AM talk-back this morning ran hot over the story of a man who was prevented from boarding his Qantas flight from Melbourne to London because he refused to remove his t-shirt (and put on a Qantas one instead). His t-shirt bore an image of George Bush with the caption "World's Greatest Terrorist" (or something like that). The passenger, Alan Jasson, 55, refused to remove his shirt and insisted on his right to wear what he wished. He says:
"I have a right to my political views and no one can take them away from me".Qantas refused to allow him to board because they insisted the t-shirt's message would upset and insult other passengers and posed a security risk. When asked to explain its actions, Qantas claimed they had the right to prevent from its flights anything that threatened the security of the company!!! Since when was a t-shirt a threat to security? Because it criticises Bush? Can our culture stoop any lower in its obsequiousness to our American overloads? This is certainly an attack against free speech, and, importantly, political speech!
So, I'm sharing my little token of resistance (see above, published under my Creative Commons license) – particularly as many responses on ABC radio this morning were "where can I get that t-shirt?". If you're serious to get your mitts on a Bush-is-an-idiot type t-shirt, check out this listing of anti-Bush t-shirts on CafePress.
But, the anti-free speech wowserism doesn't stop there. We now have comedy and satire in the dock in New South Wales. While the story first broke when he was arrested and charged when performing his TV stunt, Chasers' War on Everything (ABC TV) comedian Chas Licciardello is back in the news "facing a Sydney court today, charged over a comedy skit filmed outside a rugby league game last year."
Licciardello pleaded not guilty to charges of offensive behaviour in a public place. "The comedian was arrested by police after they found him selling fake Bulldogs paraphernalia including knives, knuckledusters and flares," states ABC News online. He was basically running a gag on the violence in the rivalry between Rugby League teams – in the aftermath of "the incident which happened outside a game between the St George-Illawarra Dragons and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Kogarah."
It was a gag! He was poking fun at thugishness and violence in Rugby League, especially the supporters of a team with a reputation for violence against opposing teams' supporters – as demonstrated in the incident mentioned above. He now faces charges for offensive behaviour! How ridiculous can things get? I do think that one of the signs of intensifying conservatism in any society – and the stresses this creates – is increasing restrictions on free speech and scrutiny of artists, comedians writers, and the public generally. And especially when it stomps on its clowns.
I dread the time when we have to print 'Free Chas' t-shirts…
[Image by me, shared under the terms of my Creative Commons license. Feel free to download it and put it on your blog/website (print quality would be crap for anything large, sorry) or turn it into badges, but please do credit me and don't make money off it!]