Qantas dress codeMonday, January 22, 2007 at 19:41 | Posted in Freedom of speech | 1 Comment
Tags: australia, George W Bush, qantas
I would not wear the above T-shirt. Not because I would feel sorry for George W Bush but because I do not like T-shirts. The shirt is certainly not polite and whether or not it exeeds the limits of good taste is debatable.
While I would not wear that T-shirt, I would not be offended if I saw somebody else wear it in public. I would find that anybody who wants to wear a shirt like that is whithin their right to express an opinion through a satirical expression. And let us face it, George W Bush has not exactly made a big effort to unjustify that sort of criticism.
Alan Jasson is a 55 year old Australian living in London. He feels strong enough about Bush to refuse to fly home from Melbourne wearing anything other than this particular T-shirt. The Australian air line carrier Qantas would be happy to fly him home wearing anything but that shirt.
Mr. Jasson is quoting his right to an opinion and free speech. He is considering to take legal action against Qantas. In a worse case scenario, he is prepared to loose the 2500 $ air ticket and his residence status in Britain which might happen if he stays out of the country for two consecutive months.
Qantas does not see the shirt as a freedom of speech issue but rather as a security matter or a matter of offending somebody, apparently other passangers. Melbourne Indymedia quotes a Qantas spokesman as 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.
Threaten the security? Are they suggesting that a “potentially offended” fellow passenger could assault Mr. Jasson? I wonder who should be regarded as a security risk in such case. Surely not Mr. Jasson, as long as he was doing nothing else than wearing the disputed T-shirt.
And what exactly do Qantas mean with verbal comments? Are members of their cabin crew instructed to ease dropping passengers’ conversations to detect and report back verbal comments “with the potential to offend other customers or threaten the security of a Qantas group aircraft”, as it were? And where would they draw the line in such case?
Would muslim women potentially offend other passengers by wearing a scarf to cover their face? How about christians visibly wearing the crucifix? And while we are talking about T-shirts, what would a Qantas crew do if somebody took off their jacket during a flight and a T-shirt similar to that of Mr. Jasson’s would appear? Would they make an emergency landing to remove the passenger?
I always thought it would be nice to visit Australia just once in my life. I am not so sure any longer that I want to do that. At least I would not want to fly to Australia. This does not seem to be the policy of Qantas alone: Mr. Jasson had the same problem with Virgin Blue as he was flying from Melbourne to Adelaide earlier.
While I would not wear that T-shirt and I am not saying that wearing it is an act of good taste, I agree that this issue has gone beyond the point where Alan Jasson could possibly wear anything else on that flight and it should specifically be a Qantas flight. I hope he gets on board and I hope Qantas do not need a court order to allow him on board. Then again, appealing to their common sense could turn out to be too optimistic.