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Flight ban for anti-Bush T-shirt (BBC)


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A passenger barred from a Qantas airlines flight for wearing a T-shirt depicting US President George Bush as a terrorist has threatened legal action. [/b]

Allen Jasson said he was sticking up for the principle of free speech by challenging the decision by the Australian flag carrier.

Mr Jasson was stopped as he was about to board the flight from Melbourne to London last Friday.

Qantas said the T-shirt had potential to offend other passengers.

The T-shift features an image of President George W Bush, along with the slogan "World's Number One Terrorist".


The 55-year-old computer specialist, who lives in London, had encountered difficulties with the same T-shirt on an earlier Qantas flight in December.

After clearing the international security checks at Melbourne Airport, he reportedly approached the gate manager to congratulate him on the company's new-found open-mindedness.

At that point, Mr Jasson was ordered to remove the T-shirt after being told it was a security threat and an item which might cause offence to other passengers.

He was offered the chance to board the flight wearing different clothing, but refused.

"I am not prepared to go without the t-shirt. I might forfeit the fare, but I have made up my mind that I would rather stand up for the principle of free speech," he told Australian media.

A Qantas spokesman defended the airline's decision, saying: "Whether made verbally or on a T-shirt, comments with the potential to offend other customers or threaten the security of a Qantas group aircraft will not be tolerated".

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I think what's tweaking them is the dreaded and loaded word, "terrorist." I can see how that'd make airlines and some travelers nervous.

While I think the shirt's a little extreme and not the best choice for a traveler to wear, it's really extreme to ban it, especially for a non-US airline.

What is the world coming to, if people in free, democratic societies can't exercise their right to free speech and public protest, even while crossing international boundaries?

If I cannot voice my opinion, OR if I cannot respect another person's right to voice an opinion different from mine... oh, fer cryin' out loud, people get over yourselves.*

* Blue notes the advice must apply to himself also. Easy to to say, harder to do.


Edited to fix a typo: I know better, but misspelled "exercise" with a Z. Tsk, tsk, tsk. The editor in me is embarrassed.

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Once again I am feeling like I have been abducted by aliens and put back on the wrong planet.

The Qantas reaction to the T shirt is so unAustralian.

Practically any phrase has the potential to offend somebody.

So somebody at Qantas voted for Bush? That's a worry!

I agree blue I think it is the 'terrorist' word that caused them concern.

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The last time I flew, there was a college kid with a t-shirt that read:

I fart therefore I am.

Obviously a budding rocket scientist and much more terrifying on an aircraft than and an anti-Bush-inista.

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Speaking for myself, I hope he sues over this. Further, I hope he wins. In my view, this is a simple case of protected political speech: the right to speak out against something a person feels is wrong. Not all speech is protected: there is no such thing as a right to absolute free speech. A right to free speech cannot be construed to give a person the right to start a riot with inflamatory language, or shout "Fire" in a crowded room for example. In this case, however, this man has an opinion that is perfectly legal, hurts no-one, advocates no harm to anyone and if it irritates someone who thinks George Bush is a great leader, so be it. Most of the world now knows George Bush for the arrogant fool that he is.

Back when the Ayatollah Khomeni decried Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, and ordered all good Muslims to kill him, I had a custom T-shirt of my own made up, one that I wore practically everywhere. It had a bunch of books on the front, with titles that had been banned here in America, and other places, including such literary classics as Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Slaughterhouse Five, Catcher in the Rye, and in front, with pride of place, The Satanic Verses. The banner on the shirt read:

I Read Banned Books

I submit that a little dissent is not only healthy in our western civilizations, I am convinced that it is essential to our very survival as free people. Those who would like to hide inconvienient truths in the shadows are the same people who would take our liberties away: not because it is necessary, but because it is easy. Democracy isn't easy. Its messy, argumentative, and on some issues, downright divisive, but it works and works best when people remove their heads from the sand and stand up for what they believe. Liberties are things that must be earned; must be defended. Ben Franklin, and others, have been credited as having said:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

I might wish things were different and that this man didn't need to wear his shirt, but I fully support his right to do so.


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Yay Abraxas, Well said.

Too many people think democracy is about adopting the winning parties philosophy for themselves. It isn't. It is about maintaining the right and being able, to dissent with the majority who voted for a party to govern until the next election.

Just because the party we didn't vote for gets elected doesn't mean we suddenly have to agree with them.

Dissent is the cornerstone of democracy. The ability to express that dissent is enshrined in the right to freedom of expression with due responsibility.

OK the soapbox is now available for the next speaker.

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